Rule 3-201.?Court Commissioners.
To define therole of court commissioner.
To establish aterm of office for court commissioners.
To establishuniform administrative policies governing the qualifications, appointment,supervision, discipline and removal of court commissioners.
To establishuniform administrative policies governing the salaries, benefits and privilegesof the office of court commissioner.
This rule shall apply to all trial courts of record.
Statement of the Rule:
(1) Definition. Court commissioners arequasi‑judicialofficers established by the Utah Code.
(2)(A) Court commissioners must be at least 25 years ofage, United States citizens, Utah residents for three years precedingappointment and residents of Utah while serving as commissioners. A courtcommissioner shall reside in a judicial district the commissioner serves.
(2)(B) Court commissioners must be admitted to practicelaw in Utah and exhibit good character. Court commissioners must possessability and experience in the areas of law in which the court commissionerserves.
(2)(C) Court commissioners shall serve full time andshall comply with Utah Code Section 78A‑2‑221.
(3) Appointment ‑ Oathof office.
(3)(A) Selection of court commissioners shall be basedsolely upon consideration of fitness for office.
(3)(B) When a vacancy occurs or is about to occur inthe office of a court commissioner, the Council shall determine whether to fillthe vacancy. The Council may determine that the court commissioner will servemore than one judicial district.
(3)(C) A committee for the purpose of nominatingcandidates for the position of court commissioner shall consist of thepresiding judge or designee from each court level and judicial district thatthe commissioner will serve, three lawyers, and two members of the public.Committee members shall be appointed by the presiding judge of the districtcourt of each judicial district. The committee members shall serve three yearterms, staggered so that not more than one term of a member of the bench, bar,or public expires during the same calendar year. The presiding judge shalldesignate a chair of the committee. All members of the committee shall residein the judicial district. All members of the committee shall be voting members.A quorum of one‑half the committee members is necessary for thecommittee to act. The committee shall act by the concurrence of a majority ofthe members voting. When voting upon the qualifications of a candidate, thecommittee shall follow the procedures established in the commissionernominating manual.
(3)(D) If the commissioner will serve more than onejudicial district, the presiding judges of the districts involved shall selectrepresentatives from each district's nominating committee to form a jointnominating committee with a size and composition equivalent to that of adistrict committee, except that a maximum of two judges from each districtshall serve on the joint nominating committee.
(3)(E) No member of the committee may vote upon thequalifications of any candidate who is the spouse of that committee member oris related to that committee member within the third degree of relationship. Nomember of the committee may vote upon the qualifications of a candidate who isassociated with that committee member in the practice of law. The committeemember shall declare to the committee any other potential conflict of interestbetween that member and any candidate as soon as the member becomes aware ofthe potential conflict of interest. The committee shall determine whether thepotential conflict of interest will preclude the member from voting upon thequalifications of any candidate. The committee shall record all declarations ofpotential conflicts of interest and the decision of the committee upon theissue.
(3)(F) The administrative office of the courts shalladvertise for qualified applicants and shall remove from consideration thoseapplicants who do not meet minimum qualifications of age, citizenship,residency, and admission to the practice of law. The administrative office ofthe courts shall develop uniform guidelines for the application process forcourt commissioners.
(3)(G) The nominating committee shall review theapplications of qualified applicants and may investigate the qualifications ofapplicants to its satisfaction. The committee shall interview selectedapplicants and select the three best qualified candidates.? All voting shall be by confidentialballot.? The committee shall receivepublic comment on those candidates as provided in paragraph (4).? Any candidate may be reconsidered upon motionby a committee member and upon agreement by a majority of nominating committeemembers.?
(3)(H) When the public comment period as provided inparagraph (4) has closed, the comments shall be given to the nominatingcommittee. If any comments would negatively affect the committee?s decision onwhether to recommend a candidate, the candidate shall be given all commentswith the commenters? names redacted and an opportunity to respond to thecomments. If the committee decides not to recommend a candidate based on thecomments, the committee shall select another candidate from the interviewedapplicants and again receive public comment on the candidates as provided inparagraph (4).
(3)(I) The chair of the nominating committee shallpresent the names, applications, and the results of background investigationsof the nominees to the judges of the courts the court commissioner will serve.The committee may indicate its order of preference.
(3)(J) The judges of each court level the courtcommissioner will serve shall together select one of the nominees by aconcurrence of a majority of judges voting. If the commissioner will serve morethan one judicial district, the concurrence of a majority of judges in eachdistrict is necessary for selection.
(3)(K) The presiding judge of the district the courtcommissioner will primarily serve shall present the name of the selectedcandidate to the Council. The selection shall be final upon the concurrence oftwo‑thirdsof the members of the Council. The Council shall vote upon the selection within45 days of the selection or the concurrence of the Council shall be deemedgranted.
(3)(L) If the Council does not concur in the selection,the judges of the district may select another of the nominees or a newnominating process will be commenced.
(3)(M) The appointment shall be effective upon thecourt commissioner taking and subscribing to the oath of office required by theUtah Constitution and taking any other steps necessary to qualify for office.The court commissioner shall qualify for office within 45 days after theconcurrence by the Council.
(4) Public comment for appointment andretention.
(4)(A) Final candidates for appointment and courtcommissioners who are up for retention shall be subject to public comment.
(4)(B) For final candidates, the nominating committeeshall be responsible for giving notice of the public comment period.
(4)(C) For court commissioners, the district in whichthe commissioner serves shall be responsible for giving notice of the publiccomment period.
(4)(D) The nominating committee or district in whichthe commissioner serves shall:
(4)(D)(i) email notice to each active member of the UtahState Bar including the names of the nominees or court commissioner withinstructions on how to submit comments;
(4)(D)(ii) issue a press release and other public noticeslisting the names of the nominees or court commissioner with instructions onhow to submit comments; and
(4)(D)(iii) allowat least 10 days for public comment.
(4)(E) Individuals who comment on the nominees orcommissioners should be encouraged, but not required, to provide their namesand contact information.
(4)(F) The comments are classified as protected courtrecords and shall not be made available to the public.
(5) Term of office. The court commissionershall be appointed until December 31 of the third year following concurrence bythe Council. At the conclusion of the first term of office and each subsequentterm, the court commissioner shall be retained for a term of four years unlessthe judges of the courts the commissioner serves vote not to retain thecommissioner in accordance with paragraph (8)(B) or unless the Judicial Councildoes not certify the commissioner for retention under rule 3-111. The term ofoffice of court commissioners holding office on April 1, 2011 shall endDecember 31 of the year in which their term would have ended under the formerrule.
(6) Court commissioner performance review.
(6)(A) Performance evaluations and performanceplans. The presiding judge of each district and court level thecommissioner serves shall prepare an evaluation of the commissioner'sperformance and a performance plan in accordance with Rule 3-111. Courtcommissioners shall comply with the program for judicial performanceevaluation, including expectations set forth in a performance plan.
(6)(B) Public comment period results. When thepublic comment period for a commissioner provided in paragraph (4) closes, thecomments shall be given to and reviewed by the presiding judge of each districtand court level the commissioner serves. If there are any negative comments,the negative comments shall be provided to the commissioner with the commenters?names redacted and the commissioner shall be given an opportunity to respond tothe comments.
(7) Corrective action or removal during acommissioner?s term.
(7)(A) Corrective action.
(7)(A)(i) The Council may take corrective actions as theresult of a complaint filed under rule 3-201.02.
(7)(A)(ii) If the commissioner's performance is notsatisfactory, corrective actions may be taken in accordance with paragraph(7)(A)(iii) by the presiding judge, or presiding judges if the commissionerserves multiple districts or court levels, with the concurrence of a majorityof the judges in either district or court level the commissioner serves.
(7)(A)(iii) Correctiveactions may include but are not limited to private or public censure,restrictions in case assignments with corresponding reduction in salary,mandatory remedial education, suspension without pay for a period not to exceed60 days, and removal under (7)(B)(i)(c).
(7)(B)(i) Removal by Judicial Council. During acommissioner?s term, the court commissioner may be removed by the Council:
(7)(B)(i)(a) aspart of a reduction in force;
(7)(B)(i)(b) forfailure to meet the evaluation requirements; or
(7)(B)(i)(c) as the result of acomplaint filed under rule 3‑201.02 upon the concurrenceof two‑thirds of the Council.
(7)(B)(ii) Removal by District or Court Level.
(7)(B)(ii)(a) Duringa commissioner?s term, if the commissioner's performance is not satisfactory,the commissioner may be removed by the presiding judge, or presiding judges ifthe commissioner serves multiple districts or court levels, only with theconcurrence of a majority of the judges in each district or court level thecommissioner serves.
(7)(B)(ii)(b) Ifthe commissioner serves multiple districts or court levels and one district orcourt level contests a commissioner removal decision made by the other districtor court level, the Management Committee will review the decision, with finaldetermination by the Judicial Council.
(7)(C) Review of District or Court Level Decisions.If the commissioner disagrees with a district or court level?s decision to removethe commissioner or take corrective actions, the commissioner may request areview of the decision by the Management Committee of the Council.
(8)(A) The Council shall review materials on thecommissioner?s performance prior to the end of the commissioner?s term ofoffice and the Council shall vote on whether the commissioner is eligible to beretained for another term in accordance with rule 3-111.
(8)(B) At the end of a commissioner?s term, the judgesof each district and court level the commissioner serves may vote not to retainthe commissioner for another term of office. The decision not to retain iswithout cause and shall be by the concurrence of a majority of the judges ineach district and court level the commissioner serves. A decision not to retaina commissioner under this paragraph shall be communicated to the commissionerwithin a reasonable time after the decision is made, and not less than 60 daysprior to the end of the commissioner?s term .
(9) Salaries and benefits.
(9)(A) The Council shall annually establish the salaryof court commissioners. In determining the salary of the court commissioners,the Council shall consider the effect of any salary increase for judges authorizedby the Legislature and other relevant factors. Except as provided in paragraph(6), the salary of a commissioner shall not be reduced during thecommissioner's tenure.
(9)(B) Court commissioners shall receive annual leaveof 20 days per calendar year and the same sick leave benefits as judges of thecourts of record. Annual leave not used at the end of the calendar year shallnot accrue to the following year. A commissioner hired part way through theyear shall receive annual leave on a prorated basis. Court commissioners shallreceive the same retirement benefits as non‑judicial officers employedin the judicial branch.
(10)(A) Courtcommissioners shall be provided with support personnel, equipment, and suppliesnecessary to carry out the duties of the office as determined by the presidingjudge.
(10)(B) Courtcommissioners are responsible for requesting necessary support services fromthe presiding judge.
Effective May 1, 2021