Utah's judicial boundaries have been consolidated from 25 jurisdictions to eight. Not only will the simplification save taxpayers money, it will save headaches.
Before this week, a map of Utah's overlapping court boundaries and jurisdictions read like a take-off of Bud Abbott's and Lou Costello's "Who's on first?" routine.For example, a Salt Lake citizen resided in the jurisdiction of the 2nd District Juvenile Court, the 5th Circuit Court, and the 3rd District Court.
An Ogden citizen lived in the boundaries of the Second District Court which included Weber, Davis and Morgan counties. But Ogden's 3rd Circuit Court included only Weber and Morgan Counties. The juvenile court serving Ogden included Rich, Cache, Box Elder, Weber, David and Morgan counties.
As a result of the consolidation, if a Salt Lake resident needs to go to court, he or she will go to the 3rd District Court, the 3rd Circuit Court or the 3rd Juvenile Court. And, the boundaries of the courts serving Ogden are unified and do not overlap.
Taxpayers will further benefit from the simplification because court personnel, facilities, and equipment will be consolidated. Workloads between the courts will be equalized. There will be improved judicial assistance.
At a time when tax dollars are tight, the judiciary's efforts to consolidate is especially appreciated.
Nominating Commissions (which review applicants for judicial vacancies) will be reduced from 25 to eight. Those who serve will be better trained and more accountable.
The change makes sense. So much sense that it's hard to imagine why it wasn't done years ago.
The hodge-podge system sprang out of the piecemeal growth pattern of the courts since Utah's statehood in 1896.
The State Judicial Council recommended the consolidation after thorough study. Council members, who now have the constitutional power to govern the direction of the judiciary, deserve praise for replacing complexity and confusion with reason and simplicity.