Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Senate confirms first Utah woman to 10th Circuit Court bench

New judge » Carolyn McHugh gets through Senate without a single dissenting vote after nearly 10-month wait.

First Published Mar 12 2014 09:11 am • Last Updated Mar 12 2014 07:24 pm

Washington • The U.S. Senate on Wednesday unanimously confirmed Utah Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Carolyn McHugh to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, making her the first woman from Utah to serve on the federal appellate panel.

McHugh won wide support from the Senate — 98 senators voted for her and none against — after her nomination from President Barack Obama had languished for nearly 10 months. When the Senate failed to act last year, Obama had to resubmit her name and start the process over.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Utah’s senators praised McHugh throughout the confirmation hearing and on the Senate floor this week.

"She’s going to be great," said Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch. "She’s a very fine woman, and I think she’ll be a great addition to that court. I think highly of her."

Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican who had vetted McHugh for the state appellate court when he served as general counsel to then-Gov. Jon Huntsman, agreed she would be an excellent addition to the federal court.

"I found her then and I found her this time to be an outstanding candidate for judicial office," Lee said.

McHugh was rated "unanimously well qualified" by the American Bar Association, the highest ranking the organization gives. Her supporters and former colleagues say it’s a testament to her work ethic.

McHugh won her first jury trial in the early 1980s, for example, when she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant.

"She bucked up and she did a hell of a job," said attorney Bruce A. Maak, who worked with McHugh on that construction-dispute case and many more in her 18-year career at Salt Lake City’s Parr Brown Gee & Loveless.

Maak, who still works for the firm, said McHugh has "extraordinary" analytical and writing skills, a great wit and ample humility. She wrote a version of Twas the Night Before Christmas every year for the firm’s holiday party, roasting the partners.


story continues below
story continues below

"Because of the gap between her ability and her perception of her ability, she always worked too hard," said Maak, who was delighted at her Senate confirmation. "She’s a damn good person. I’m 67 now and I’ve seen a lot of judges in my day. You don’t find too many that have her mix of talents who get through the political process."

McHugh, who was born in 1957 in Pennsylvania, earned her bachelor’s and law degrees at the University of Utah, and has been active in several causes, including Voices for Utah Children, Catholic Community Services of Utah, the Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake as well as previously teaching at the U. law school.

While McHugh’s confirmation took longer than expected, it wasn’t because of any controversy on her part. In fact, her first Judiciary Committee hearing was a jovial affair after Lee introduced the nominee, noting she had admitted that as a child she hit her brother with a hockey stick when he shook her bed following a viewing of "The Exorcist."

Once confirmed, Lee had joked then, "We hope that the hockey stick will be used only sparingly."

tburr@sltrib.com

Matt Canham contributed to this story.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.