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S.B. 243 Enrolled






Chief Sponsor: D. Chris Buttars

House Sponsor: Curtis Oda

             8      LONG TITLE
             9      General Description:
             10          This bill changes the time of performance evaluations for justices of the supreme court
             11      and exempts attorneys from the requirement of being surveyed within 30 days of the
             12      day their case closed.
             13      Highlighted Provisions:
             14          This bill:
             15          .    changes the time of performance evaluations for justices of the supreme court from
             16      the third, sixth, and ninth year of the justice's term to the third, seventh, and ninth
             17      year of the justice's term;
             18          .    exempts attorneys from the requirement of being surveyed within 30 days of the
             19      day their case is closed; and
             20          .     allows attorneys to be surveyed at any time during the survey period.
             21      Monies Appropriated in this Bill:
             22          None
             23      Other Special Clauses:
             24          This bill provides an immediate effective date.
             25      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             26      AMENDS:
             27          78A-12-203, as enacted by Laws of Utah 2008, Chapter 248
             28          78A-12-204, as enacted by Laws of Utah 2008, Chapter 248

             30      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             31          Section 1. Section 78A-12-203 is amended to read:
             32           78A-12-203. Judicial performance evaluations.
             33          (1) Beginning with the 2012 judicial retention elections, the commission shall prepare
             34      a performance evaluation for:
             35          (a) each judge in the third and fifth year of the judge's term if the judge is not a justice
             36      of the Supreme Court; and
             37          (b) each justice of the Supreme Court in the third, [sixth] seventh, and ninth year of
             38      the justice's term.
             39          (2) Except as provided in Subsection (3), the performance evaluation for a judge under
             40      Subsection (1) shall consider only:
             41          (a) the results of the judge's most recent judicial performance survey that is conducted
             42      by a third party in accordance with Section 78A-12-204 ;
             43          (b) information concerning the judge's compliance with minimum performance
             44      standards established in accordance with Section 78A-12-205 ;
             45          (c) courtroom observation;
             46          (d) the judge's judicial disciplinary record, if any;
             47          (e) public comment solicited by the commission;
             48          (f) information from an earlier judicial performance evaluation concerning the judge;
             49      and
             50          (g) any other factor that the commission:
             51          (i) considers relevant to evaluating the judge's performance for the purpose of a
             52      retention election; and
             53          (ii) establishes by rule.
             54          (3) The commission shall make rules concerning the conduct of courtroom observation
             55      under Subsection (2), which shall include the following:
             56          (a) an indication of who may perform the courtroom observation;
             57          (b) a determination of whether the courtroom observation shall be made in person or

             58      may be made by electronic means; and
             59          (c) a list of principles and standards used to evaluate the behavior observed.
             60          (4) (a) As part of the evaluation conducted under this section, the commission shall
             61      determine whether to recommend that the voters retain the judge.
             62          (b) (i) If a judge meets the minimum performance standards established in accordance
             63      with Section 78A-12-205 there is a rebuttable presumption that the commission will
             64      recommend the voters retain the judge.
             65          (ii) If a judge fails to meet the minimum performance standards established in
             66      accordance with Section 78A-12-205 there is a rebuttable presumption that the commission
             67      will recommend the voters not retain the judge.
             68          (c) The commission may elect to make no recommendation on whether the voters
             69      should retain a judge if the commission determines that the information concerning the judge
             70      is insufficient to make a recommendation.
             71          (d) (i) If the commission deviates from a presumption for or against recommending the
             72      voters retain a judge or elects to make no recommendation on whether the voters should retain
             73      a judge, the commission shall provide a detailed explanation of the reason for that deviation or
             74      election in the commission's report under Section 78A-12-206 .
             75          (ii) If the commission makes no recommendation because of a tie vote, the
             76      commission shall note that fact in the commission's report.
             77          (5) (a) Before considering the judicial performance evaluation of any judge, the
             78      commission shall notify the judge of the date and time of any commission meeting during
             79      which the judge's judicial performance evaluation will be considered.
             80          (b) The commission shall allow a judge who is the subject of a judicial performance
             81      evaluation to appear and speak at any commission meeting, except a closed meeting, during
             82      which the judge's judicial performance evaluation is considered.
             83          (c) The commission may meet in a closed meeting to discuss a judge's judicial
             84      performance evaluation by complying with Title 52, Chapter 4, Open and Public Meetings
             85      Act.

             86          (6) The commission may make rules in accordance with Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah
             87      Administrative Rulemaking Act, as necessary to administer the evaluation required by this
             88      section.
             89          Section 2. Section 78A-12-204 is amended to read:
             90           78A-12-204. Judicial performance survey.
             91          (1) The judicial performance survey required by Section 78A-12-203 concerning a
             92      judge who is subject to a retention election shall be conducted on an ongoing basis during the
             93      judge's term in office by a third party under contract to the commission.
             94          (2) The judicial performance survey shall include as respondents a sample of each of
             95      the following groups as applicable:
             96          (a) attorneys who have appeared before the judge as counsel;
             97          (b) jurors who have served in a case before the judge;
             98          (c) litigants whose cases have been considered by the judge;
             99          (d) witnesses who have testified in cases considered by the judge; and
             100          (e) court staff who have worked with the judge.
             101          (3) The commission may include an additional classification of respondents if the
             102      commission:
             103          (a) considers a survey of that classification of respondents helpful to voters in
             104      determining whether to vote to retain a judge; and
             105          (b) establishes the additional classification of respondents by rule.
             106          (4) All survey responses are anonymous, including comments included with a survey
             107      response.
             108          (5) If the commission provides any information to a judge or the Judicial Council, the
             109      information shall be provided in such a way as to protect the confidentiality of a survey
             110      respondent.
             111          (6) A survey shall be provided to a potential survey respondent within 30 days of the
             112      day on which the case in which the person appears in the judge's court is closed, exclusive of
             113      any appeal, except for court staff and attorneys, who may be surveyed at any time during the

             114      survey period.
             115          (7) Survey topics shall include questions concerning a judge's:
             116          (a) legal ability, including the following:
             117          (i) demonstration of understanding of the substantive law and any relevant rules of
             118      procedure and evidence;
             119          (ii) attentiveness to factual and legal issues before the court;
             120          (iii) adherence to precedent and ability to clearly explain departures from precedent;
             121      and
             122          (iv) grasp of the practical impact on the parties of the judge's rulings, including the
             123      effect of delay and increased litigation expense;
             124          (b) integrity, including the following:
             125          (i) avoidance of impropriety or the appearance of impropriety; and
             126          (ii) display of fairness and impartiality toward all parties;
             127          (c) communication skills, including clearly articulating the basis for written rulings;
             128          (d) judicial temperament, including the following:
             129          (i) demonstration of courtesy toward attorneys, court staff, and others in the judge's
             130      court;
             131          (ii) maintenance of decorum in the courtroom; and
             132          (iii) preparedness for oral argument; and
             133          (e) administrative performance, including the following:
             134          (i) management of workload;
             135          (ii) sharing proportionally the workload within the court or district; and
             136          (iii) issuance of opinions and orders without unnecessary delay.
             137          (8) (a) If the commission determines that a certain survey question or topic is not
             138      appropriate for a category of respondents, the commission may omit that question or topic
             139      from the survey provided to that category of respondents.
             140          (b) Litigants and witnesses may be surveyed only about judicial temperament.
             141          (c) The commission shall, by rule, determine appropriate litigants and witnesses to be

             142      surveyed.
             143          (9) The survey shall allow respondents to indicate responses in a manner determined
             144      by the commission, which shall be:
             145          (a) on a numerical scale from one to five, with one representing inadequate
             146      performance and five representing outstanding performance; or
             147          (b) in the affirmative or negative, with an option to indicate the respondent's inability
             148      to respond in the affirmative or negative.
             149          (10) The commission shall compile and make available to each judge that judge's
             150      survey results with each of the judge's judicial performance evaluations.
             151          (11) The commission may make rules in accordance with Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah
             152      Administrative Rulemaking Act, as necessary to administer the judicial performance survey.
             153          Section 3. Effective date.
             154          If approved by two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, this bill takes effect
             155      upon approval by the governor, or the day following the constitutional time limit of Utah
             156      Constitution Article VII, Section 8, without the governor's signature, or in the case of a veto,
             157      the date of veto override.

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