Agency History #868
The first establishment of a Supreme Court for the area now known as Utah was in the State of Deseret, a political entity organized "until the Congress of the United States shall provide for the Government of the Territory" (Deseret Const., preamble). Article IV of the Constitution of Deseret provided for a three-member Supreme Court. The awaited action of the United States Congress came in 1850. "An Act to Establish a Territorial Government for Utah" (9 Stat. 453, hereafter Organic Act) was passed on September 9, 1850. Section 9 of the act provided that "the judicial power of said territory shall be vested in a Supreme Court, District Court, and Justices of the Peace." The establishment of the territorial courts through Congressional action is authorized by the United States Constitution (Art. III, §1, Art. IV, §3).
Initially, the Justices of the Supreme Court of the State of Deseret were to act as conservators of the peace and exercise other jurisdictions and appellate powers as prescribed by law. Under the Organic Act, the Utah Supreme Court was to act primarily as an appellate court. At Statehood, the Court was vested with non-exclusive original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, quo warranto, and habeas corpus. In all other cases, the Court was vested with appellate jurisdiction only.
Under the Constitution of Deseret, the Justices of the Supreme Court were responsible to act as "conservators of the peace throughout the State [of Deseret], and shall exercise other jurisdictions and appellate powers as shall be prescribed by law" (Deseret Const., Art. IV, §3). As provided in the Organic Act, the Utah Supreme Court was to act primarily as an appellate court. Cases could be brought from the territorial district courts to the Supreme Court on appeal, writ of error, or bill of exception. Jury trials were expressly forbidden in the Territorial Supreme Court. Appeal from the Territorial Supreme Court could be taken to the United States Supreme Court. Subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court extended to all cases arising out of common, chancery, and statutory law. Members of the Court were individually authorized to grant writs of habeas corpus under the same conditions and in the same circumstances as federal judges in the District of Columbia.
The transformation into a State Supreme Court under the State Constitution saw changes in the jurisdiction of the Court. The Court was vested with non-exclusive original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, quo warranto, and habeas corpus. The authority to issue a writ of habeas corpus was also vested in the members of the Court individually. In all other cases, the Court was vested with appellate jurisdiction only (Ut. Const., Art. VIII, §§4, 7).
Passage of legislation in the 1896 legislature (L. 1896, ch. VII) provided additional direction for the Court. The Court was specifically granted the authority to "reverse, affirm or modify any order or judgment appealed from and may direct the proper judgment or order to be entered, or direct a new trial or further proceedings to be had" (§3). The decisions of the Court were also required to be filed with the Clerk of the Court in writing. In the event the Court was evenly divided on any particular issue, the order of the lower court would stand (§5).
In 1907, the Court was required to remit appeals back to the court from which the appeal was taken (L. 1907, ch. 161). This means that after hearing an appeal, the records of the case and the decision of the Court would be sent back to the original trial court. The trial court would then enter a new judgment in the case or retry the case, as directed in the order from the Supreme Court.
Three justices were elected to four year terms by the General Assembly of the State of Deseret. Under the Organic Act, the chief justice and two associate justices were appointed by the U.S. President with Senate ratification. Members also served as the presiding judge of one of Utah's district courts. At statehood in 1896, the three justices were elected to staggered six-year terms; the justices were no longer required to sit as judges in district courts. After 1905, the Legislature could expand court membership to five. The Court had the authority to appoint its own bailiffs and clerk.
Under the Constitution of Deseret, the three members of the Court were elected by the General Assembly to serve four-year terms. As constituted in the Organic Act, the Court still consisted of three members, one chief justice and two associate justices. Justices were appointed by the President of the United States, subject to U. S. Senate ratification (U.S. Const., Art. II, §2), to four-year terms. Members also served as the presiding judge of one of Utah's district courts, and were required to reside in the district in which they presided. Business was allowed to be conducted by any two of the judges. The Clerk of the Court was appointed by the members of the court and served at the pleasure of the justices.
An Enabling Act (28 Stat. 107) was passed by the Congress in 1894 which authorized the calling of a convention for the purpose of drafting a constitution for Utah, as required for statehood. Section 17 of the Enabling Act provided for the transformation of the territorial courts into state courts. The state courts which could be created by the constitution in the convention would be the successors to and inherit the pending litigation of the territorial courts. The Enabling Act also provided that any litigation pending prior to admission of Utah as a State would be tried according to the territorial laws.
Utah was admitted as a State on 4 January 1896 by proclamation of President Grover Cleveland, thus approving the constitution drafted by a convention in the spring of 1895 and ratified by popular vote in November 1895. The Utah Supreme Court was thus transferred to a State Supreme Court with authority specified by the Utah State Constitution.
Under the State Constitution, the Court was to consist of three justices, elected to staggered terms of 6 years. The constitution provided that after 1905, the Legislature could expand the membership of the Court to five (Ut. Const., Art. VIII, §2).
A majority of the members of the Court constituted a quorum to conduct business. In the event any member of the Court was disqualified from hearing a case, the remaining justices were to "call a district judge to sit with them on the hearing of such cause" (Ut. Const., Art. VIII, §2). In the event all justices were disqualified from hearing a case, the Court was charged with the responsibility of calling three district court judges to serve (L. 1896, ch. VII, §3). Supreme Court justices were no longer required to sit as judges in district courts.
Qualifications were imposed on the members of the Court. In order to be eligible to serve on the Court, an individual must be 30 years old and, prior to the election, "shall be a member of the bar, learned in the law, and a resident of the Territory or State of Utah for five years next preceding his election" (Ut. Const. Art. VIII, §3).
The Court was vested with the authority to appoint its own bailiffs and clerk, all of whom were removable at the pleasure of the Court. The Clerk of the Court was charged with the responsibility of maintaining "a complete record of all the proceedings of the court." The clerk was empowered to administer oaths, issue process and writs, make transcripts, and certify records under the seal of the court. He was to allow any opinion or decision of the court to be reviewed; however, no written opinion of the court was to leave his office. The clerk was also to act as the State Law Librarian, to adjourn the Court if no justices were present, to appoint deputy clerks as necessary, to collect certain fees in advance, and to deposit those fees in the State Treasury (L. 1896, ch. VII, §§6-13, 17).
The Court was empowered to call upon the service of any county sheriff and to publish rules regulating procedure and the practice of law, provided that those rules did not conflict with statute (§§ 16, 18). The Court was directed to meet for its first term on January 20, 1896, "or as soon thereafter as the justices of the court shall fix" (§15). It is ironic that the legislation containing this directive was not approved until February 3, 1896.
The Court was required to hold three sessions per year by the original constitution (Art. VIII, §4). The dates for the beginning of those terms was set in 1899 by the State Legislature (L. 1899, ch. 77).
|Joseph Buffington,||1850 [did not take office]|
|Lemuel G. Brandeberg (Also spelled Brandenbury or Bradenbury),||12 March 1851|
|Lazarus H. Reed,||31 August 1852|
|John F. Kinney,||24 August 1853|
|Delana R. Eckels,||13 July 1857|
|John F. Kinney,||27 June 1860|
|John Titus,||6 May 1863|
|Charles C. Wilson,||25 July 1868|
|James B. McKean,||17 June 1870|
|David P. Lowe,||19 March 1875|
|Alexander White,||11 September 1875|
|Michael Schaeffer,||20 April 1876|
|John A. Hunter,||1 July 1879|
|Charles S. Zane,||1 Sep 1884|
|Charles S. Zane,||1889|
|Samuel A. Merritt,||1894|
|Charles S. Zane,||1896-1899|
|George W. Bartch,||1899-1901|
|James A. Miner,||1901-1903|
|Robert N. Baskin,||1903-1905|
|George W. Bartch,||1905-1906|
|William M. McCarty,||1906-1908|
|Daniel N. Straup,||1908-1910|
|Joseph E. Frick,||1910-1912|
|William M. McCarty,||1912-1915|
|Daniel N. Straup,||1915-1917|
|Joseph E. Frick,||1917-1919|
|Elmer E. Corfman,||1919-1923|
|Albert J. Weber,||1923-1925|
|Samuel R. Thurman,||1927-1929|
|James W. Cherry,||1929-1933|
|Daniel N. Straup,||1933-1935|
|William H. Folland,||1937-1939|
|David W. Moffat,||1939-1943|
|James H. Wolfe,||1943-1944|
|Martin M. Larson,||1945-1946|
|Roger I. McDonough,||1947-1948|
|Eugene C. Pratt,||1949-1951|
|James H. Wolfe,||1951-1954|
|Roger I. McDonough,||1954-1959|
|J. Allen Crockett,||1959-1961|
|Lester M. Wade,||1961-1963|
|F. Henri Henriod,||1963-1967|
|J. Allen Crockett,||1967-1970|
|E. R. Callister,||1971-1975|
|F. Henri Henriod,||1975-1976|
|A. H. Ellett,||1977-1979|
|J. Allen Crockett,||1979-1981|
|Richard J. Maughan,||1981|
|Gordon R. Hall,||1981-1994|
|Michael D. Zimmerman,||1994-1998|
|Richard C. Howe,||1998-|
|Perry E. Brochus,||1850-1851|
|George P. Stiles,||1854-1857|
|William Wormer Drummond (One source lists name as C. W. Drummond),||1854-1857|
|Emery D. Potter,||1857|
|Charles E. Sinclair,||1857-1860|
|R. P. Flenniken,||1860-1861|
|Henry R. Crosbie,||1860-1861|
|Charles P. Waite (Sources disagree on middle initial. May have been B. or D.),||1862-1864|
|Thomas J. Drake,||1862-1869|
|Solomon P. McCurdy,||1864-1868|
|Enos D. Hoge,||1868-1869|
|Obed F. Strickland,||1869-1873|
|Cyrus M. Hawley,||1869-1873|
|Phillip H. Emerson,||1873-1876|
|John M. Coghlan,||1876-1880|
|Jacob S. Boreman,||1873-1880|
|Orlando W. Powers,||1885-1886|
|Stephen R. Twiss,||1880-1884|
|Jacob S. Boreman,||1885-1889|
|Henry P. Henderson,||1886-1889|
|John W. Judd,||1888-1889|
|Thomas J. Anderson,||1889-1893|
|John W. Blackburn,||1889-1893|
|George W. Bartch,||1893-1894|
|Harvey W. Smith,||1893-1895|
|William H. King,||1894-1896|
|Henry H. Rolapp,||1895-1896|
|George W. Bartch,||1896-1899|
|James A. Miner,||1896-1901|
|Robert N. Baskin,||1899-1903|
|George W. Bartch,||1901-1905|
|William M. McCarty,||1903-1906|
|Daniel N. Straup,||1905-1908|
|Joseph E. Frick,||1906-1910|
|William M. McCarty,||1908-1912|
|Daniel N. Straup,||1910-1915|
|Joseph E. Frick,||1913-1917|
|William M. McCarty,||1915-1918|
|Elmer E. Corfman,||1917-1919|
|Samuel R. Thurman,||1917-1927|
|Joseph E. Frick,||1919-1927|
|Albert J. Weber,||1919-1923|
|James W. Cherry,||1923-1929|
|Daniel N. Straup,||1925-1933|
|William H. Folland,||1929-1937|
|David W. Moffat,||1933-1939|
|James H. Wolfe,||1935-1943|
|Martin M. Larson,||1937-1944|
|Roger I. McDonough,||1939-1946|
|David W. Moffat,||1943-1944|
|James H. Wolfe,||1945-1951|
|Roger I. McDonough,||1949-1954|
|Eugene C. Pratt,||1941-1948 (Was on military leave, 1942-1946)|
|Lester M. Wade,||1943-1961|
|Abe W. Turner,||1944-1946|
|J. Allen Crockett,||1951-1959|
|F. Henri Henriod,||1951-1963|
|George W. Latimer,||1954-1959|
|George W. Worthen,||1954-1959|
|E. R. Callister,||1959-1971|
|Roger I. McDonough,||1959-1966|
|J. Allen Crockett,||1961-1967|
|Lester M. Wade,||1963-1966|
|R. L. Tuckett,||1966-1976|
|A. H. Ellett,||1967-1977|
|F. Henri Henriod,||1967-1975|
|J. Allen Crockett,||1971-1979|
|Richard J. Maughan,||1975-1981|
|D. Frank Wilkins,||1976-1980|
|Gordon R. Hall,||1977-1981|
|I. Daniel Stewart,||1979-|
|Richard C. Howe,||1980-1998|
|Dallin Harris Oaks,||1981-1984|
|Christine M. Durham,||1982-|
|Michael D. Zimmerman,||1984-1993|
|Richard C. Howe,||1988-1993|
|Leonard H. Russon,||1994-|
|Michael D. Zimmerman,||1998-|
|Ezra T. Sprague,||1876-ca. 1890|
|Joseph P. Bache,||ca. 1890-1895|
|Ledyard M. Bailey,||1895-1896|
|Lilburn P. Palmer,||1896-ca. 1904|
|Harry W. Griffith,||ca. 1904-1929|
|Leland M. Cummings,||1929-1974|
|Allan E. Mecham,||1974-1976|
|Geoffery J. Butler,||1976-1997|
|Patricia H. Bartholomew,||1997-|
|Albert Hagan,||1876-1880 (series 1, vols. 1-2)|
|Zera Snow,||1881-1884 (vol. 3)|
|John A. Marshall,||1884-1886 (vol. 4)|
|John M. Zane,||1886-1894 (vols. 4-9)|
|James A. Williams,||1894-1896 (vols. 10-12)|
|Joseph M. Tanner,||1896-1899 (vols. 13-17)|
|George L. Nye,||1898-1902 (vols. 18-23)|
|John Walcott Thompson,||1902-1905 (vols. 24-28)|
|A. B. Edler,||1905-1908 (vols. 29-34)|
|Alonzo Blair Irvine,||1908-1911 (vols. 35-39)|
|Harmel L. Pratt,||1911-1918 (vols. 40-52)|
|W. S. Dalton,||1918-1925 (vols. 54-65)|
|H. A. Rich,||1925-1936 (vols. 66-89)|
|Arthur J. Mays,||1936-1937 (vols. 90-92)|
|Paul G. Ellis,||1937-1950 (vols. 93-117)|
|Dean W. Sheffield,||1950-1959 (vols. 119-123; 2d series, vols. 1-8 )|
|Leland M. Cummings,||1959-1974 (2d series, vols. 9-29)|
|Allan E. Mecham,||1974-1976 (2d series, vol. 30)|
|Geoffery J. Butler,||1976- 1997|
|Patricia H. Bartholomew,||1997-|
COMPILED BY: Paul G. C. Smith, May 1998
Ashton, Clifford L. The Federal Judiciary in Utah . Salt Lake City: Utah Bar Foundation, 1988.
Julian, Stephen W. "The Utah State Supreme Court and its Justices, 1896-1976" Utah Historical Quarterly . 44 (1976): 297-286.
Magleby, James E., Esq. and John M. Peterson, Esq. Justices of the Utah Supreme Court, 1896-1996. Salt Lake City: Quality Press, Inc., 1997.
Poll, Richard D., et al. Utah's History . Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1978.
Utah Supreme Court. Utah Reports, 1851-1979. Utah State Archives Series 1481.
Page Last Updated July 2, 2003.