Earlier this week, Su J. Chon introduced herself to the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee, describing her family's immigration to the United States and the hard work and education they undertook to become citizens and the friendships they earned as they helped their neighbors.
She also outlined the various types of legal expertise she has accumulated in her 18 years as an attorney in matters ranging from family law to mechanics' liens, contractual real estate and construction, and her latest position as the attorney for the state's Office of Property Rights Ombudsman.
Chon said she would be a fair, impartial judge, hardworking, patient, careful about due process and always prepared. Given her experience and philosophy, she seemed to be an excellent candidate.
The committee voted 4-to-2 against endorsing Chon, saying she lacked trial experience. But, as my colleague Paul Rolly suggested, they may have been seeking to preserve their own self interests as property managers and developers.
Then on Wednesday, Chon faced the entire Senate as it discussed her qualifications or perceived lack of them for more than an hour.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, who voted against her in committee, called her a "delightful, wonderful person," and voted no again.
Democrat Pat Jones, said Chon's former boss at the law firm Callister, Nebeker & McCullough had "nothing but positive to say" about Chon. Jones added that many other lawyers had become judges without having a "heap of litigation," and voted yes.
Republican Margaret Dayton took issue with this newspaper for reporting that Chon was the first minority judicial candidate in more than five years to be rejected in committee.
"I was offended for her [to be] judged on ethnicity instead of merit," adding that we live in a post-racial society. (On that, Jessie Nix, president-elect of the Utah Minority Bar Association, would say only that Dayton "is white and lives in Provo.") Dayton voted no.
Mark Madsen, an attorney, called Chon a "wonderful person, a wonderful lawyer â¦ I am hopeful that she takes the bench." He then voted no.
Luz Robles, a Democrat, recalled Chon's contribution at the Multicultural Legal Center, working with crime victims and with women, men and children.
"Chon oversaw the litigation part. She is qualified" to be a judge. Robles voted yes.
Republican Stuart Reid held forth on the need for a group of qualified judges and attorneys who would rate candidates so there is a level of consistency among the various candidates who go through this process. (One note: the Legislature resisted independent ethics and redistricting commissions, so I'm not sure that idea would fly.) Reid voted no.
So did Michael Waddoups, the Senate president and property manager who helped grill Chon in the confirmation committee.
In the end, the senators voted 17-10 to elevate Chon to the bench in Utah's 3rd District Court; all seven Democrats voted for her.
Chon, her husband and her parents sat quietly on a side bench during the session. As the final vote was announced, Chon's father reached for his wife's hand, and her husband took hers.
Chon didn't comment afterward, saying she had to go see Gov. Gary Herbert, who had nominated and defended her. As she walked down the grand staircase to his office, she smiled.
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @pegmcentee.