Utah governor's office
Paige Petersen

SALT LAKE CITY — An Emery County native who prosecuted Serbian warlords in international courts will take a seat on the Utah Supreme Court, pending confirmation by the state Senate.

Gov. Gary Herbert tapped 3rd District Judge Paige Petersen to fill the vacancy being created when Justice Christine Durham steps down Nov. 16.

"Clearly she has great intellectual firepower," Herbert said of Petersen, noting that "she understands the rule of law."

Petersen has served on the 3rd District Court bench since 2015 and currently handles civil cases. For two years, she oversaw a combined civil and criminal caseload, including the Summit County Drug Court.

From 2012 to 2015, Petersen was an assistant U.S. attorney for the violent crimes section of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah and in that capacity argued a case before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Petersen promised "fidelity to the law" and thanked her parents, schoolteachers and professors along her way — noting how much they shaped her success.

A graduate of the University of Utah and Yale Law School, Petersen worked from 2009-11 in the prosecutor's office at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at the Hague in the Netherlands.

Herbert has filled 80 positions out of 116 on the state court benches, with Justice Thomas Lee noting that few understand the breadth of the governor's impact on state courts.

He has picked four of the five sitting justices on the Utah Supreme Court.

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Herbert praised Petersen for her accomplishments and said her reputation for being methodical will serve her well on the bench.

Petersen's confirmation hearing is set for noon Nov. 13.

The Utah Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee is seeking public comment on Petersen.

Those who desire to comment should contact Jerry Howe at the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah State Capitol Campus, House Building, Suite W210, PO Box 145210, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-5210, by 5 p.m. on Nov. 14. All statements should include the respondent’s name, telephone number, and mailing address.