Utah Administrative Code

The Utah Administrative Code is the body of all effective administrative rules as compiled and organized by the Division of Administrative Rules (see Subsection 63G-3-102(5); see also Sections 63G-3-701 and 702).

NOTE: For a list of rules that have been made effective since August 1, 2019, please see the codification segue page.

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R597. Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, Administration.

Rule R597-3. Judicial Performance Evaluations.

As in effect on August 1, 2019

Table of Contents

R597-3-1. Evaluation Cycles.

(1) For judges not serving on the supreme court:

(a) The mid-term evaluation cycle. Except as provided in subsection (3) the mid-term evaluation cycle begins upon the appointment of the judge or on the first Monday in January following the retention election of the judge and ends on September 30th of the third year preceding the year of the judge's next retention election.

(b) The retention evaluation cycle. The retention evaluation cycle begins the day after the mid-term evaluation cycle is finished and ends on September 30th of the year preceding the year of the judge's next retention election.

(2) For justices serving on the supreme court:

(a) The initial evaluation cycle. The initial evaluation cycle begins upon the appointment of the justice or on the first Monday in January following the retention election of the justice and ends on September 30th of the seventh year preceding the year of the justice's next retention election.

(b) The mid-term evaluation cycle. The mid-term evaluation cycle begins the day after the initial evaluation cycle is finished and ends on September 30th of the third year preceding the year of the justice's next retention election.

(c) The retention evaluation cycle. The retention evaluation cycle begins the day after the mid-term evaluation cycle is finished and ends on September 30th of the year preceding the year of the justice's next retention election.

(3) Timing of evaluations within cycles. In order to allow judges time to incorporate feedback from midterm evaluations into their practices, no evaluations shall be conducted during the first six months of the retention cycle.

R597-3-2. Survey.

(1) General provisions.

(a) All surveys shall be conducted according to the evaluation cycles described in R597-3-1, supra.

(b) The commission may provide a partial midterm evaluation to any judge whose appointment date precludes the collection of complete midterm evaluation data.

(c) The commission shall post on its website the survey questionnaires upon which the judge shall be evaluated at the beginning of the survey cycle.

(d) The commission may select retention survey questions from among the midterm survey questions.

(e) Periodically, reviews may be conducted to ensure compliance with administrative rules governing the survey process.

(f) The commission may consider narrative survey comments that cannot be reduced to a numerical score.

(g) Surveys shall be distributed by the third-party contractor engaged by the commission to conduct the survey. The contractor shall determine the maximum number of survey requests sent to a respondent, but in no event shall any respondent receive more than nine survey requests.

(2) Respondent Classifications

(a) Attorneys

(i) Identification of survey respondents.

(A) Within 10 business days of the end of the evaluation cycle, the clerk for the judge or the Administrative Office of the Courts shall identify as potential respondents all attorneys who have appeared before the judge who is being evaluated at a minimum of one hearing or trial during the evaluation cycle.

(B) Attorneys who have been confirmed as judges during the evaluation cycle shall be excluded from the attorney pool.

(C) Within 10 business days of the end of the evaluation cycle, the Office of the Professional Conduct shall identify all judges who have referred an attorney for allegations of misconduct.

(D) An attorney who has been referred by a judge to the Office of Professional Conduct shall be excluded from the attorney pool of the referring judge.

(ii) Number of survey respondents.

(A) For each judge who is the subject of a survey, the surveyor shall identify the number of attorneys most likely to produce a response level yielding reliability at a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 5%.

(B) In the event that the attorney appearance list from the Administrative Office of the Courts contains an insufficient number of attorneys with one trial appearance or at least three total appearances before the evaluated judge to achieve the required confidence level, then the surveyor shall supplement the survey pool with other attorneys who have appeared before the judge during the evaluation cycle.

(iii) Sampling. The surveyor shall design the survey to comply with generally-accepted principles of surveying. All attorneys with one trial appearance or at least three total appearances before the evaluated judge shall be surveyed.

(b) Jurors

(i) Identification and number of survey respondents. All jurors who participate in deliberation shall be eligible to receive an online juror survey.

(ii) Distribution of surveys. Prior to the jury being dismissed, the bailiff or clerk in charge of the jury shall collect email addresses from all jurors. If email addresses are not available, street addresses shall be collected. The bailiff or clerk shall transmit all such addresses to the surveyor within 24 hours of collection. The surveyor shall administer the survey online and deliver survey results electronically to each judge. Paper surveys may be sent to those jurors who do not have access to email.

(c) Court Staff

(i) Definition of court staff who have worked with the judge. Court staff who have worked with the judge refers to employees of the judiciary who have regular contact with the judge as the judge performs judicial duties and also includes those who are not employed by the judiciary but who have ongoing administrative duties in the courtroom.

(ii) Identification of survey respondents. Court staff who have worked with the judge include, but are not limited to:

(A) judicial assistants;

(B) case managers;

(C) clerks of court;

(D) trial court executives;

(E) interpreters;

(F) bailiffs;

(G) law clerks;

(H) central staff attorneys;

(I) juvenile probation and intake officers;

(J) other courthouse staff, as appropriate;

(K) Administrative Office of the Courts staff.

(d) Juvenile Court Professionals

(i) Definition of juvenile court professional. A juvenile court professional is someone whose professional duties place that individual in court on a regular and continuing basis to provide substantive input to the court.

(ii) Identification of survey respondents. Juvenile court professionals shall include, where applicable:

(A) Division of Child and Family Services ("DCFS") child protection services workers;

(B) Division of Child and Family Services ("DCFS") case workers;

(C) Juvenile Justice Services ("JJS") Observation and Assessment Staff;

(D) Juvenile Justice Services ("JJS") case managers;

(E) Juvenile Justice Services ("JJS") secure care staff;

(F) Others who provide substantive professional services on a regular basis to the juvenile court.

(iii) Beginning with juvenile court judges standing for retention in 2014, juvenile court professionals shall be included as an additional survey respondent group for both the midterm and retention evaluation cycles.

(3) Anonymity and Confidentiality

(a) Definitions

(i) Anonymous.

(A) "Anonymous" means that the identity of the individual who authors any survey response, including comments, will be protected from disclosure.

(B) The independent contractor conducting the surveys shall provide to the commission all written comments from the surveys, redacted to remove any information that identifies the person commenting. The contractor shall also redact any information that discloses the identity of any crime victims referenced in a written comment.

(C) The submission of a survey form containing an anonymous narrative comment does not preclude any survey respondent from submitting a public comment in writing pursuant to the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission Act.

(ii) Confidentiality: Confidentiality means information obtained from a survey respondent that the respondent may reasonably expect will not be disclosed other than as indicated in the survey instrument.

(iii) The raw form of survey results consists of quantitative survey data that contributes to the minimum score on the judicial performance survey.

(iv) The summary form of survey results consists of quantitative survey data in aggregated form.

R597-3-3. Courtroom Observation.

(1) General Provisions.

(a) Courtroom observations shall be conducted according to the evaluation cycles described in R597-3-1(1) and (2), supra.

(b) The commission shall provide notice to each judge at the beginning of the survey cycle of the courtroom observation process and of the instrument to be used by the observers.

(c) Only the content analysis of the individual courtroom observation reports shall be included in the retention report for each judge.

(2) Courtroom Observers.

(a) Selection of Observers

(i) Courtroom observers shall be volunteers, recruited by the commission through public outreach and advertising.

(ii) Courtroom observers shall be selected by the commission staff, based on written applications and an interview process.

(iii) Courtroom observers, though volunteers, may be eligible to receive compensation in exchange for successful completion of a specified amount of additional courtroom observation work.

(b) Selection Criteria. Observers with a broad and varied range of life experiences shall be sought. The following persons shall be excluded from eligibility as courtroom observers:

(i) persons with a professional involvement with the state court system, the justice courts, or the judge;

(ii) persons with a fiduciary relationship with the judge;

(iii) persons within the third degree of relationship with a state or justice court judge (grandparents, parents or parents-in-law, aunts or uncles, children, nieces and nephews and their spouses);

(iv) persons lacking computer access or basic computer literacy skills;

(v) persons currently involved in litigation in state or justice courts;

(vi) persons whose background or experience suggests they may have a bias that would prevent them from objectively serving in the program.

(c) Terms and Conditions of Service

(i) Courtroom observers shall serve at the will of the commission staff.

(ii) Courtroom observers shall not disclose the content of their courtroom evaluations in any form or to any person except as designated by the commission.

(d) Training of Observers

(i) Courtroom observers must satisfactorily complete a training program developed by the commission before engaging in courtroom observation.

(ii) Elements of the training program shall include:

(A) Orientation and overview of the commission process and the courtroom observation program;

(B) Classroom training addressing each level of court;

(C) In-court group observations, with subsequent classroom discussions, for each level of court;

(D) Training on proper use of observation instrument;

(E) Training on confidentiality and non-disclosure issues;

(F) Such other periodic trainings as are necessary for effective observations.

(3) Courtroom Observation Program.

(a) Courtroom Requirements

(i) During each midterm and retention evaluation cycle, a minimum of four different observers shall observe each judge subject to that evaluation cycle.

(ii) Each observer shall observe each judge in person while the judge is in the courtroom and for a minimum of two hours while court is in session. The observations may be completed in one sitting or over several courtroom visits.

(iii) If a judge sits in more than one geographic location at the judge's appointed level or a justice court judge serves in more than one jurisdiction, the judge may be observed in any location or combination of locations in which the judge holds court.

(iv) When the observer completes the observation of a judge, the observer shall complete the observation instrument, which will be electronically transferred to the commission or the third party contractor for processing.

(b) Travel and Reimbursement

(i) All travel must be preapproved by the executive director.

(ii) All per diem and lodging will be reimbursed, when appropriate, in accordance with Utah state travel rules and regulations.

(iii) Travel reimbursement forms shall be submitted on a monthly basis or whenever the observer has accumulated a minimum of 200 miles of travel.

(iv) Travel may be reimbursed only after the observer has satisfactorily completed and successfully submitted the courtroom observation report for which the reimbursement is sought.

(v) Overnight lodging

(A) Overnight lodging is reimbursable when the courtroom is located over 100 miles from home base and court is scheduled to begin before 9:30 a.m., with any exceptions preapproved by commission staff.

(B) Multiple overnight lodging is reimbursable where the commission staff determines it is cost-effective to observe several courtrooms in a single trip.

(vi) Each courtroom observer must provide a social security number or tax identification number to the commission in order to process state reimbursement.

(4) Principles and Standards used to evaluate the behavior observed.

(a) Procedural fairness, which focuses on the treatment judges accord people in their courts, shall be used to evaluate the judicial behavior observed in the courtroom observation program.

(b) To assess a judge's conduct in court with respect to procedural fairness, observers shall respond in narrative form to the following principles and behavioral standards:

(i) Neutrality, including but not limited to:

(A) displaying fairness and impartiality toward all court participants;

(B) acting as a fair and principled decision maker who applies rules consistently across court participants and cases;

(C) explaining transparently and openly how rules are applied and how decisions are reached.

(D) listening carefully and impartially;

(ii) Respect, including but not limited to:

(A) demonstrating courtesy toward attorneys, court staff, and others in the court;

(B) treating all people with dignity;

(C) helping interested parties understand decisions and what the parties must do as a result;

(D) maintaining decorum in the courtroom.

(E) demonstrating adequate preparation to hear scheduled cases;

(F) acting in the interests of the parties, not out of demonstrated personal prejudices;

(G) managing the caseflow efficiently and demonstrating awareness of the effect of delay on court participants;

(H) demonstrating interest in the needs, problems, and concerns of court participants.

(iii) Voice, including but not limited to:

(A) giving parties the opportunity, where appropriate, to give voice to their perspectives or situations and demonstrating that they have been heard;

(B) behaving in a manner that demonstrates full consideration of the case as presented through witnesses, arguments, pleadings, and other documents.

(C) attending, where appropriate, to the participants' comprehension of the proceedings.

(c) Courtroom observers may also be asked questions to help the commission assess the overall performance of the judge with respect to procedural fairness.

R597-3-4. Minimum Performance Standards.

(1) In addition to the minimum performance standards specified by statute or administrative rule, the judge shall:

(a) Demonstrate by the totality of the circumstances that the judge's conduct in court promotes procedural fairness for court participants. To determine if the judge meets the minimum performance standard of procedural fairness:

(i) commissioners shall consider only data collected as part of the judge's performance evaluation, pursuant to 78A-12-203(2).

(ii) the standard shall be commensurate with the standard set forth for scored minimum performance standards on the judicial performance survey, as in 78A-12-205(1)(b)(i).

(iii) commissioners shall vote, with a majority of the quorum constituting the decision of the commission.

(iv) the outcome of the vote shall establish the rebuttable presumption as it applies to procedural fairness, in accordance with 78A-12-203(4)(b).

(b) Meet all performance standards established by the Judicial Council, including but not limited to:

(i) annual judicial education hourly requirement;

(ii) case-under-advisement standard; and

(iii) physical and mental competence to hold office.

(2) No later than October 1st of the year preceding each general election year, the Judicial Council shall certify to the commission whether each judge standing for retention election in the next general election has satisfied its performance standards.

R597-3-5. Public Comments.

(1) Persons desiring to comment about a particular judge with whom they have had experience may do so at any time, either by submitting such comments on the commission website or by mailing them to the executive director.

(2) In order for the commission to consider comments in making its retention recommendation on a particular judge, comments about that judge must be received no later than March 1st of the year in which the judge's name appears on the ballot.

(3) Comments received after March 1st of the year in which the judge's name appears on the ballot will be included as part of the judge's mid-term evaluation report in the subsequent evaluation cycle.

(4) Comments received about a judge after the mid-term evaluation cycle ends will be included in the judge's next retention evaluation report.

(5) Persons submitting comments may choose whether to include their name and contact information with their submission.

(6) All public comments are subject to GRAMA, pursuant to 78A-12-206(1).

R597-3-6. Judicial Retirements and Resignations.

(1) For purposes of judicial performance evaluation, the commission shall evaluate each judge until the judge:

(a) provides written notice of resignation or retirement to the Governor;

(b) is removed from office;

(c) otherwise vacates the judicial office; or

(d) fails to properly file for retention.

(2) For judges who provide written notice of resignation or retirement after a retention evaluation has been conducted but before it is distributed, the retention evaluation shall be sent to the Judicial Council.

R597-3-7. Publication of Retention Reports.

No later than three months after the filing deadline for a retention election, the commission shall post on its website the retention reports of all judges who have filed for that election.

R597-3-8. Judicial Written Statements.

If, pursuant to Utah Code Ann. Subsection 78A-12-206(3), a judge is eligible to provide a written statement to be included in the judge's evaluation report, the statement shall be due to commission staff, in writing, no later than one week after the deadline for the judge to file a declaration of the judge's candidacy in the retention election.

R597-3-9. Judicial Discipline.

(1) For the purposes of judicial performance evaluation and pursuant to Utah Code Ann. Section 78A-12-205, the commission shall consider any public sanction of a judge issued by the Supreme Court during the judge's current term, including:

(a) During the judge's midterm and retention evaluation cycles and

(b) After the end of the judge's retention evaluation cycle until the commission votes whether to recommend the judge for retention.


judicial performance evaluations, judges, evaluation cycles, surveys

Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment

November 7, 2018

Notice of Continuation

February 5, 2019

Authorizing, Implemented, or Interpreted Law


Additional Information


For questions regarding the content or application of rules under Title R597, please contact the promulgating agency (Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, Administration). A list of agencies with links to their homepages is available at http://www.utah.gov/government/agencylist.html or from http://www.rules.utah.gov/contact/agencycontacts.htm.