Northern Utah's next circuit court judge will more than likely be a woman, the first female judge north of Salt Lake City. All three finalists for the bench, from a list of 14 candidates, are women.

The three names submitted to Gov. Norman Bangerter for consideration by the 2nd Judicial District Nominating Commission are Pamela Heffernan, Kaysville; Kristine Knowlton, Ogden; and Andrea Lockwood, also Ogden.The 2nd Circuit Court covers Weber, Davis and Morgan counties. The nominating commission picked the three women after interviewing 14 candidates, said court spokesman Rosemary Gacnik.

All 14 candidates for the position in Ogden underwent extensive reference, personal background, and qualification checks, she said.

The three finalists were subjected to a final scrutiny before their names were given last week to Bangerter, who will interview each candidate within 30 days. The Legislature then has another 30 days to accept or reject Bangerter's final pick.

Lockwood, 37, is an assistant corporate counsel on the Ogden City legal staff and has been an attorney for nine years. The years she's spent working in circuit court for the city have prepared her for a judge's job, Lockwood said.

"It's a very challenging position and I think it's something I'd be good at," she said.

Being the first woman judge in northern Utah wouldn't present a problem, Lockwood said. "I'm sure it will be very unusual, but it will wear off very quickly," she said.

Knowlton, 35, is "quite simply, thrilled" at being a finalist. She is an assistant Weber County attorney and put her name in for the judgeship, she said, because she is looking to do something different in her career.

Heffernan, 36, said the wait, which could stretch into two months, will be an anxious one. She said she welcomes the possibility of returning to Ogden where she was raised.

An attorney with a Salt Lake firm, Heffernan said she applied for the bench to become more involved in public service.