Utah courts must be open, accessible to all, chief justice says

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  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 9:41 a.m.

    In my opinion, the courtrooms should be more empty, more of the time. Our "sue-happy" culture only heightens insurance premiums, increases red tape/regulations and promotes angst and mistrust of others. It makes doing small business and private enterprise more difficult and more expensive.

    If we could treat each other with greater civility and respect and honor our own word and deed, courtrooms would be quieter, civil angst lower and everybodies blood pressure would be healthier.

    And we all be able to keep more of our own money...

  • Zona Zone Mesa, AZ
    Jan. 29, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    If the Chief Justice wants the Courts to be accessible to all, a good place to start is by ensuring his opinions and those of his colleagues are written in language that are accessible to all. Too often, judges write in terms that only lawyers understand, making it impossible for the lay person to even attempt to defend himself. The second problem is WestLaw and LexisNexis whose subscriber fees for their necessary legal services are way too exorbitant, and this pushes up the price for individuals with lawyers and keeps in the dark those without a lawyer. A free legal database is sorely needed.

  • dalefarr South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 29, 2013 9:08 a.m.

    The chief justice may think that the courts should be open to all but every year the Legislature passes laws making it more difficult and more expensive to seek redress in the judicial system and every year the Utah Supreme Court does nothing to protect access to the courts.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:03 a.m.

    The Legislature really needs to take a strong look at "Justice Courts" who have questionable magistrates and are used as a source of funding for municipalities. These "courts" rarely dispense justice but specialize in collecting fees. And yes, they are a conflict of interest and a huge problem.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 8:03 a.m.

    As a retired paralegal, I've found that part of the problem is that too many attorneys have the same sense of entitlement as do doctors; the idea that because they had to work hard in law school, they're now entitled to be wealthy. The error in that thinking is that many other people who, for many reasons, couldn't go to medical school or law school have nevertheless worked equally hard or harder in their own field of endeavor while barely earning enough to scrape by. Demanding fees of $200 to $300 an hour to defend someone charged with a crime is simply unreasonable when we know it's likely to cause financial ruin for the client even if he wins. It also leaves public defenders in an uncomfortable situation, getting paid $25 or $30 an hour while their private sector counterparts get rich. It's no wonder public defenders sometimes yield to temptation to squeeze clients for a bit more. I'm not even going to touch on highly-paid attorneys who pay their staff minimum wage or only slightly more...

  • AlanSutton Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 29, 2013 2:24 a.m.

    It's interesting that the Chief Justice said that "the Utah State Bar (the association all lawyers must belong to) has started a pro bono (free) initiative to help those with the greatest need."

    I heard that the association started this "initiative" last summer by asking all lawyers to volunteer to help people who can't afford a lawyer. They called it "Lend a Learned Hand" (after a famous judge named Learned Hand). Lawyers were supposed to volunteer in writing by the end of July, but July has come and gone and nothing has come of it. Please tell us more.