A panel of Utah U.S. District judges voted for the first time in state history not to reappoint a magistrate judge to a second term on the bench.
Magistrate Judge Evelyn J. Furse, who was sworn into the job in 2012, will serve until the end of April, U.S. District Court clerk Mark Jones said.
Jones said there have been between eight and 10 magistrate judges in state history, and Furse was the first one whom judges declined to appoint to a second term.
Magistrate judges conduct preliminary hearings in criminal cases and also handle other criminal and civil matters as assigned by district judges.
Jones said Furse indicated this year she would like to serve a second term, and the district judges convened throughout the summer to make the decision.
First, the judges had to choose whether or not to consider Furse for a second term. They all approved.
Next, a selection panel came together and took in public comment and testimony. That group decided Furse should be reappointed, Jones said.
But when that recommendation came back down to the judges for their final decision, they declined her reappointment.
Jones said that vote happened in August, but he couldn’t release how the judges voted.
The Salt Lake Tribune reached out to Furse for comment, but she did not respond Thursday evening.
Before working as a magistrate judge, Furse was a senior attorney for Salt Lake City Corp. and had clerked for former-Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham. She was once the president of the Women Lawyers of Utah and chaired the group’s Initiative on the Advancement and Retention of Women Attorneys.
She made headlines in 2016 for her decision to send Cory Lee Henderson, a parolee indicted on new gun and drug charges, to a treatment center instead of keeping him in jail awaiting further court proceedings.
Henderson escaped from that center 11 days after arriving, got in a car crash and shot and killed Unified Police Officer Doug Barney, who responded to the scene. Another officer was injured later in a shootout between police and Henderson, and Henderson was killed.