Bill would have Utah governor pick chief justice

Chris Rizo Feb. 11, 2010, 2:24am

Scott Jenkins (R)

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline)-Legislation that would allow the Utah governor to appoint the state's chief justice is winding its way through the state Legislature.

The proposal, outlined in Senate Bill 109, is expected to be voted on by the state Senate this week.

Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said the state should follow the model of 14 other states that allow the governor to appoint the state high court's administrative leader.

Currently, the five justices on the court elect the chief justice and the associate chief justice.

Critics, including Utah Justice Jill Parrish, have charged that inserting the governor into matters of the court would violate the separation of powers.

The Utah Supreme Court is led currently by Chief Justice Christine Durham and Associate Chief Justice Michael Wilkins.

All five justices on the Utah Supreme Court are appointed by the governor and are confirmed by the Utah Senate for four-year terms.

The justices stand for retention elections in the solidly Republican state after serving one term.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

More News