United States District Court for the District of Utah
The United States District Court for the District of Utah is one of ninety-four United States district courts. The court is based in Salt Lake City, with another courtroom in Ogden. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals based in downtown Denver at the Byron White Federal Courthouse.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the District of Utah.
Article III judges
|Judge Clark Waddoups||1946||Arco, ID||W. Bush||10/21/2008 - Present||Paul Cassell||Brigham Young U., 1970||University of Utah Law, J.D., 1973|
|Judge David Nuffer||1952||Portland, OR||Obama||3/22/2012 - Present||Dale Kimball||Brigham Young U., 1975||Brigham Young U. Law, 1978|
|Judge Robert Shelby||March 13, 1970||Wisconsin||Obama||9/22/2012-present||Tena Campbell||Utah State U., B.A., 1944||University of Virginia Law, J.D., 1948|
|Senior Judge Tena Campbell||Clinton||6/30/1995 - 1/1/2011||2006 - 2011||1/1/2011 - Present||University of Idaho, B.A., 1967||Arizona State University College of Law, J.D., 1977|
|Senior Judge Bruce Jenkins||Carter||9/22/1978 - 9/30/1994||1984 - 1993||9/30/1994 - Present||University of Utah, B.A., 1949||University of Utah College of Law, LL.B., 1952|
|Senior Judge David Sam||Reagan||10/16/1985 - 11/1/1999||1997 - 1999||11/1/1999 - Present||Brigham Young University, B.S., 1957||University of Utah College of Law, J.D., 1960|
|Senior Judge Dee Benson||H.W. Bush||9/16/1991 - 1/1/2014||1999 - 2006||1/2/2014 - Present||Brigham Young University, 1973||Brigham Young University Law, 1976|
|Senior Judge Dale Kimball||Clinton||11/30/2009 - Present||Brigham Young University, 1964||University of Utah College of Law, 1967|
|Senior Judge Brian Stewart||Clinton||11/11/1999-9/1/2014||2011-9/1/2014||9/2/2014-Present||Utah State University, 1972||University of Utah Law, 1975|
|Magistrate Judge Paul Warner||02/19/2006 - Present||Brigham Young U., B.A., 1973||Brigham Young U. Law, J.D., 1976|
|Magistrate Judge Robert Braithwaite||05/07/2003 - Present||University of Utah Law, J.D., 1976|
|Chief Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells||06/04/2003 - Present||University of Utah, B.A.||University of Utah Law, J.D., 1977|
|Magistrate Judge Evelyn J. Furse||05/01/2012 - Present||University of North Carolina, 1993||New York U. Law, 1996|
|Magistrate Judge Dustin B. Pead||08/20/2012 - Present||University of Utah, 1995||University of Miami Law, 1998|
The District of Utah has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
There are seven court divisions, each covering the following counties:
The Central Division, covering Beaver, Carbon, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, Garfield, Grand, Iron, Juab, Kane, Millard, Piute, Salt Lake, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Summit, Tooele, Uintah, Utah, Wasatch, Washington, and Wayne Counties
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September. **Time in months from filing to completion.|
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts. ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Opinions for the District of Utah.
| • Mistrial declared after defendant shot dead in court (2014)|
Judge(s):Tena Campbell (U.S. v. Angilau, 2:08-CR-00758-TC-DBP)
|Click for summary→|
|On April 21, 2014, Senior Judge Tena Campbell declared a mistrial in the government's case against Siale Angilau following his shooting by a U.S. Marshal inside her courtroom.
The jurors were "visibly shaken and upset," and because Campbell believed the shooting would "deprive [Angilau] of a fair trial," she declared a mistrial in the case. Angilau was pronounced dead at the hospital following Campbell's ruling.
| • Utah's ban on same-sex marriage overturned (2013)|
Judge(s):Robert Shelby (Kitchen, et al v. Herbert, et al, 2:13-cv-217)
|Click for summary→|
|On December 20, 2013, Judge Robert Shelby struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, declaring the statute unconstitutional. In the underlying case, three gay and lesbian couples filed suit on March 23, 2013, claiming that the state's voter-approved ballot referendum prohibiting same-sex marriage, as well as the state's failure to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside its boundaries, infringed upon their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. On December 4, 2013, Shelby heard oral arguments on the case, where attorneys for the state defended its ban on same-sex marriage by offering evidence of Utah's interest in "responsible procreation" and an "optimal mode of child-rearing." Attorneys for the plaintiffs countered by arguing that choice of marriage partner is a constitutionally protected liberty interest. Two weeks later, Shelby struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, finding that it "demean[ed] the dignity of ... same-sex couples for no rational reason."
On December 22, 2013, Utah filed an appeal of Shelby's ruling with the Tenth Circuit, along with a request for an emergency stay of Shelby's ruling to halt same-sex marriages pending the appeal. On December 24, 2013, the Tenth Circuit denied the stay. On December 31, 2013, Utah filed an emergency application for a stay of Shelby's ruling with the Supreme Court, where Justice Sonia Sotomayor is designated to handle such requests from states within the Tenth Circuit's jurisdiction. Gay marriage supporters asked that Sotomayor refuse to uphold Utah's ban, but on January 6, 2014, after she referred the matter to all nine justices of the high court, the Supreme Court blocked Shelby's decision pending the resolution of Utah's appeal. The Supreme Court's order is available here. On January 8, 2014, Utah announced that it would not recognize any of the same-sex marriages that were performed prior to the date the Supreme Court issued its stay, thus putting the unions into legal limbo.
| • Utah's polygamy law ruled unconstitutional in "Sister Wives" case (2013)|
Judge(s):Clark Waddoups (Brown, et al v. Buhman, et al, 2:11-cv-0652-CW)
|Click for summary→|
|On December 13, 2013, Judge Clark Waddoups struck down critical elements of Utah's polygamy law as unconstitutional, essentially decriminalizing the practice. In the case at hand, stars of the TV show "Sister Wives" brought suit on July 13, 2011, claiming that state was unconstitutionally infringing upon the polygamous family's right to due process, equal protection, free exercise of religion, free speech, and freedom of association. The state filed a motion to dismiss, and on August 17, 2012, Waddoups denied that motion. Following a hearing in January 2013, Waddoups announced his decision nearly one year later in a 91-page ruling. In that ruling, Waddoups declared that the wording of the state's polygamy statute -- specifically, the phrase "or cohabits with another person" -- served as a violation of the plaintiffs' constitutional rights. The Waddoups ruling leaves the state's bigamy statute intact in theory, criminalizing only the fraudulent acquisition of multiple marriage licenses. The Utah Attorney General's office is expected to appeal the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and on December 26, 2013, Sean Reyes, the state's incoming Attorney General, confirmed that it remained his intention to file an appeal.|
| • FLDS property trust case (2011)|
|Click for summary→|
|In 2005, the State of Utah took control of the FLDS Church’s United Effort Plan Trust because of allegations of mismanagement by sect leader Warren Jeffs. In February 2011, Judge Benson ruled that the State’s takeover was unconstitutional, and violated the group’s First Amendment rights to practice its religion. On April 8, Benson’s decision gave back temporary control to the FLDS Church.
His decision made it the first time since 2005 that the polygamous sect would control the $110 million trust that holds most of the land, homes, and businesses in Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah, as well as some Canadian properties.
Third District Judge Denise Lindberg issued an order saying the state would maintain control over the trust, and ordered Bruce Wisan, the man overseeing the trust for the state, to resist the federal order. Lindberg told the federal court that returning the control back to the church would “cause irreparable harm to those who, directly or indirectly, have relied on the decisions of the state court over the nearly six years that Judge Lindberg has overseen the trust at issue.”
As a result, Judge Benson ordered Judge Lindberg to appear in his courtroom on April 15. He wanted an explanation of her decision to advise the trust administrator of the FLDS not to comply with Benson's federal order, which would give the group temporary control of a property trust.Judge Lindberg refused, leading Judge Benson to threaten to use the U.S. Marshals to haul her into his courtroom.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the District of Utah:
|July 16, 1894||28 Stat. 107||1|
|February 10, 1954||68 Stat. 8||2(Temporary)|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||2(Made Permanent)|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||3|
|July 10, 1984||98 Stat. 333||4|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||5|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more information on the judges of the District of Utah, see former federal judges of the District of Utah.
- United States District Court for the District of Utah Official Website
- Judges of the District of Utah
- District of Utah Federal Court Practice blog
- Opinions for the District of Utah
- US Attorney for the District of Utah
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- New York Times, "Defendant Killed by Court Officer at Utah Trial," April 21, 2014
- Deseret News, "Utah among several states with marriage laws under legal challenge," March 26, 2013
- Deseret News, "Challenge to Utah's same-sex marriage ban," December 4, 2013
- KSL TV, "Federal judge overturns Utah same-sex marriage ban," December 22, 2013
- MSNBC, "Utah officials request emergency stay over gay marriage ruling," December 22, 2013
- Associated Press, "Federal Court: No Halt to Gay Marriages in Utah," December 24, 2013
- Los Angeles Times, "Utah vows to appeal gay marriage ruling to Supreme Court," December 24, 2013
- Reuters, "Utah seeks U.S. Supreme Court suspension of gay marriage ruling," December 31, 2013
- Washington Post, "Gay marriage supporters ask Sotomayor to reject Utah’s request for a ban," January 3, 2014
- New York Times, "Justices Block Gay Marriage in Utah During Appeal of Case," January 6, 2014
- Washington Times, "Supreme Court puts gay marriage on hold in Utah," January 6, 2014
- New York Times, "Utah Says It Won’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriages It Licensed," January 8, 2014
- Salt Lake Tribune, "'Sister Wives' polygamy lawsuit tackles privacy in Utah," July 14, 2011
- Christian News Network, "Federal Judge Will Not Dismiss Suit Against Utah Bigamy Law," August 19, 2012
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Federal judge declares Utah polygamy law unconstitutional, "December 14, 2013
- CNN, "Judge strikes down part of Utah polygamy law in 'Sister Wives' case," December 16, 2013
- Fox 13 Now, "Incoming Utah AG weighs in on gay marriage, polygamy," December 26, 2013
- Salt Lake City Examiner, "Federal judge orders Utah judge to appear in court," April 15, 2011
- Newport Television LLC, "UPDATE: In the battle of the judges, score one for Judge Lindberg," April 16, 2011
- History of the District of Utah on the Federal Judicial Center website
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
Paul Warner • Robert Braithwaite • Brooke Wells • Evelyn J. Furse • Dustin B. Pead •
|Former Article III judges|
|Former Chief judges|