Utah Judicial System and Court System: How Does it Work?
The Utah State Court System is made of the following courts.
- Utah Supreme Court
- Utah Court of Appeals
- Utah District Courts (8 districts)
- Utah Juvenile Courts
- Utah Justice Courts
In Utah, all deputy county attorneys who are employed in a County Attorney’s Office prosecute the following –
- All felonies that occur in a particular county
- Class A misdemeanor crimes as well as all misdemeanor crimes which happen in a county outside the boundaries of an incorporated city.
- All crimes of a juvenile nature that happen in a County excluding minor traffic offenses.
City prosecutors in incorporated cities who work at a City Attorney’s Office prosecute class B and C misdemeanor crimes as well as traffic infractions within the borders of an incorporated city.
Let us take a look at how the Utah State Court System works at different levels.
Utah Supreme Court
The Utah Supreme Court is the court which has the final say on the interpretation of the Utah Constitution. The court consists of five members. Those five members include a chief justice, an associate chief justice, and three justices. The governor of Utah, with the consent of the Utah Senate, appoints all the justices to their positions. Once the five justices are appointed, they vote amongst themselves for the position of the chief justice as well as associate chief justice. Each justice serves a term of four years.
The history of the Utah Supreme Court is a colorful one. The United States Congress sanctioned "An Act to Establish a Territorial Government for Utah" in 1850. Section 9 of this act specified that "the judicial power of said territory shall be vested in a Supreme Court, District Court as well as Justices of the Peace". The Utah Supreme Court currently meets into the Scott. M Matheson courthouse. The Court began meeting there in 1998.
Utah Court of Appeals
The Utah Court of Appeals began operations in 1987. It is an intermediate-level appellate court for the state of Utah. The jurisdiction of the Utah Court of Appeals is complementary to the Utah Supreme Court. All appeals from the District and Juvenile Courts are heard by the Utah Court of Appeals. The exceptions to this are appeals from the small claims department of a District Court. Appeals made from District Courts which involve domestic relations cases such as divorce, annulment, the division of property, child custody, child support and so on as well as the District Courts handle certain criminal matters.
In addition to all of the above, the Court also hears appeals from administrative proceedings by state agencies. State agencies include the likes of the Utah Industrial Commission as well as the Department of Employment Security Career Service Review Board. There are also situations where cases are transferred to the Utah Court of Appeals by the Supreme Court.
Utah Justice Courts
Justice Courts are given the authority to handle class B as well as class C misdemeanors, violations of ordinances, small claims as well as traffic infractions which are made within their territorial jurisdiction.
Utah District Courts
District Courts are the state trial court of general jurisdiction. They have the power to handle class A misdemeanors and felonies. They also listen to cases which are civil, domestic relations, probate, criminal and small claims in nature. In addition to this, they also hear appeals from Justice Courts.
Utah Juvenile Courts
Juvenile Courts have jurisdiction over cases which involve people who are considered minors or people who are under 18 years of age. Minors who violate state or municipal law, as well as cases which involve a minor who is abused, neglected or dependent, are handled by Juvenile Courts.
Learning more about the Utah Judicial System will put you in a better position if you ever have to navigate the Utah Court System.