Utah legislature to meet in special session 7/20 during interim meetings; will look at Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission evaluations

Last week Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert issued a proclamation convening the Utah Legislature in a Special Session on July 20 to address six legislative issues and confirm appointments. The first item listed:

To consider amending Utah Code Section 78A-7-202 to modify the requirements under which the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission must evaluation part-time justice court judges for the 2012, 2014, and 2016 elections and to make technical and conforming amendments.

The bill introduced, HB 2001 (2nd Special Session) reads very similar to HB 392 from the regular session (see my previous blog post on the regular session bill here), as amended but failed to pass before the legislature adjourned. Both bills provide, for the 2012, 2014, and 2016 retention elections only, the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission is to evaluate justice court judges under two different standards:

  • justice court judges who are employed part-time on July 1, 2012 are to be evaluated by the criteria established before the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission was established
  • justice court judges who are employed full-time on July 1, 2012 are to be evaluated by the new criteria established when the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission was created.

As testimony earlier this summer indicated the bill needs to be considered in a special session because the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC) is unable to comply with the current code and that most of the requirements of the current statute cannot be applied to part-time justice court judges. An effort to allow justice court judges to be removed for cause by the original appointing authority or applicable municipality failed.

The session is set to “piggy back” on interim meetings already schedule. The Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Interim Committee agenda items include:

  1. Use of Criminal Surcharges and Fines to help fund drug task forces
  2. Prisoners released without having basic identifying documentation.
  3. Multi-agency strike force to combat violent and other major felony crimes associated with illegal immigration and human trafficking.
  4. Forfeited Property Report
  5. Jail Reimbursement and Contracting
  6. Making a more accessible Sex and Kidnap Offender Registry