Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has appointed Renee Jimenez to fill a judicial vacancy in 3rd District Juvenile Court, which serves Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele Counties.
Jimenez, who has worked for years as an attorney and an assistant Utah attorney general, was chosen from five attorney nominees. Her appointment is subject to public comment and confirmation by the Utah Senate.
Jimenez, a member of the Utah Minority Bar Association, is the second minority candidate nominated to the bench by Herbert.
Her nomination comes amid criticism about Utah's lack of minority judges.
"Gov. Herbert recognizes that diversity on the bench is important," said a statement issued by Minority Bar President Jesse Nix. "Minority kids, regardless of their race or ethnicity or economic background, will believe that a judge that looks like them will listen and be interested in helping them become law-abiding and productive citizens. It is a large component of restorative justice in the juvenile justice system."
Last year, 3rd District Judge Su J. Chon became the first minority to earn a spot on the bench under Herbert.
Statewide, only 9 percent of judges are minorities and 24 percent are women numbers that are disproportionate to the more than 21 percent of Utahns who identify as racial or ethnic minorities and the 50 percent who are female, according to 2012 U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
If appointed, Jimenez would replace Judge Frederic Oddone, who retired April 16 after nearly two decades with the juvenile court.
Jimenez responded to the nomination by saying she was "very honored," and that her time with the Child Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office has given her "a solid background for the very important work of the Juvenile Court," according to a statement.
She also has served on the Utah Supreme Court's Diversion Committee for seven years.
Utahns who wish to comment on Jimenez's appointment are encouraged to contact Mike Christensen at the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel at this address: P.O. Box 145210, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-5210.
The deadline for written comment is 5 p.m. on June 5.
Jimenez will appear at a public hearing before the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee on June 11, 3 p.m. The committee will use this hearing to issue a recommendation to the full Senate on whether or not Jimenez should be confirmed.