First District Court judicial nominee Kymber Housley, whose wife filed for bankruptcy in 2011, withdrew his name from consideration Tuesday, just hours before a Senate committee was scheduled to weigh in on his nomination.
Housley, who has served as Logan’s city attorney for 18 years, was nominated by Gov. Gary Herbert in late February. Since then, reports of debt collection issues involving Housley and his wife, Cassandra Lynn Housley, have circulated in Cache County.
Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee Chairman Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said Housley called Tuesday morning to inform the committee he would be withdrawing his nomination. Jenkins said the decision was due to the family’s financial woes, but declined to elaborate.
"He felt it would be too much on his family to move forward," Jenkins said. "It’s too bad. He’s a nice guy, but that’s life."
Housley did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
Federal court documents reveal that in March 2011, Cassandra Housley filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which reorganized her debts and required her to make monthly payments of $1,044 for the next five years.
In March 2012, she filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which wiped out the debts, the documents show. She owed $291,835 in credit cards and payday loans.
Searches of 1st District Court and Cache County’s justice courts show nine small claims and debt collection cases filed against Cassandra Housley between 2009 and 2012 that collectively sought $2,950. The most recent was filed in April 2012 by USA Cash Services, a payday loan company. The case was resolved before Judge Matthew Funk in Providence City Justice Court.
Before Housley was nominated, the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice’s nominating committee ran several background checks. Typically, this includes checks of a person’s criminal history, credit, tax payment history, any lawsuits filed against them, social media websites and disciplinary history by any judicial conduct commission or state bar association, both within and outside the state of Utah.
The commission also evaluates potential nominees on several criteria beyond legal experience and resume, including integrity, work ethic, financial responsibility, public service and impartiality.
"Members of the commission do their best to address those things in interview questions and in looking over applicants’ reference forms," said Ron Gordon, CCJJ’s executive director. He added that members of the commission are encouraged to "seek out people in the community" to find out how a candidate is viewed.
Gordon refused to comment on whether Cassandra Housley’s debts and bankruptcies were known to the commission before or after they nominated Kymber Housley for the judgeship.
Housley’s withdrawal restarts the process of replacing Judge Clint Judkins, who announced his retirement in August 2012. That means the more than 20 applicants who submitted their names for consideration will have to do so again.
Jenkins expects the process to take another four to five months.
"I’m not worried," he said. "We had several good applicants."
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