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Courts want new judge, but not without funding

Published February 26, 2010 8:04 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Court officials said Thursday they would gladly avoid a controversial judge transfer by creating a new judgeship -- but only if lawmakers fund it.

Assistant court administrator Rick Schwermer said the court cannot pay for a new judge post without firing other essential court employees. The court would "turn down" the new judge if lawmakers won't fund it, he said.

Some lawmakers may believe the court has extra money to spend, gleaned from filing fees that were raised last year, said Schwer -mer. But those fees go directly into the general fund and are not accessible by the courts, he said.

The ability of the courts to refuse a new judge position hinges on Senate Bill 108. That measure would put time limits on the judicial nominating process, hindering the courts' ability to leave a position vacant. Current law says a judicial nominating commission shall be convened to fill a vacancy "as soon as practicable."

The courts had been proposing to add a judge to the 5th District Juvenile Court by going down one judge in the 2nd District Court. That measure, Senate Bill 116, was changed to suggest funding a new judge position when lawmakers criticized the transfer.

Chief Justice Christine Durham said the transfer was needed to equalize workloads in the two districts and avoid funding another judgeship in lean budget times.

The 5th District covers Beaver, Iron and Washington counties; the 2nd District covers Weber, Morgan and Davis counties.

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