Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Roger Livingston, twice passed over for a judgeship because of office controversies, has edged two competitors for a 5th Circuit Court nomination.
Gov. Norm Bangerter nominated Livingston to the bench on Tuesday in a decision aides said was the most high-pressured judicial appointment the governor has faced.Livingston, 38, was chief deputy county attorney under former Salt Lake County Attorney Ted Cannon when Cannon was indicted on several felony counts by a Salt Lake County grand jury.
His application was rejected the first two times by the judicial nominating commission because of the Cannon controversy. But a commission member said Tuesday that "enough time has elapsed for that controversy to die down, and his credentials have always been very impressive."
Deputy Lt. Gov. Dave Hansen met informally in January with members of the Utah Senate, which confirms judicial appointments, to test support for Livingston's nomination.
Hansen's inquiries prompted the Democratic minority to hold its only closed caucus of the session to talk about Livingston an active Republican who served two terms as a state representative from Sandy in the 1970s and ran for Salt Lake County attorney in 1986.
While some of the concerns about Livingston centered on his partisan politics, he received strong endorsements from Salt Lake County Attorney David Yocom and County Sheriff Pete Hayward, both Democrats, as well as Democratic State Chairman Randy Horiuchi.
"It's true that Roger and I have been on different sides politically," Yocom said. "But we have been able to work well together in the office. I have been impressed with the job he has done for the county and the balanced outlook he has brought to the office."
Livingston beat two other contenders for the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Robert Gibson both of them applicants who brought Bangerter further pressure.
Nancy Bergeson, a defense attorney with the Salt Lake County Legal Defender's Office, is the daughter-in-law of Republican Rep. Afton Bradshaw, R-Salt Lake. Murray City Attorney Craig Hall, the third nomination submitted to the governor, had strong support from Murray legislators, including Assistant Majority Whip Jack DeMann, R-Murray.