LOGAN — Students, faculty and visitors had the opportunity Monday morning, to watch as two cases were argued before the Utah Supreme Court. The open court session was held at Utah State University for the first time in recent years.
Afterwards, Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant said the court travels twice a year, primarily visiting universities. The open court sessions are meant to allow citizens to see first-hand, how the judicial system in Utah operates.
“The public needs to understand,” said Justice Durrant. “There’s a place where they can go and receive a decision on their individual case. Where the decision makers will be uninfluenced by popular sentiment, by race, gender, or other extraneous factors, where they can get a neutral arbiter. So, I think it is very important that the courts be respected in that way. That is why we are so strict with our ethical requirements of judges.”
The first case justices heard involved whether the Utah Court of Appeals correctly overturned a district judge, who ordered a 16-year-old boy to stand trial as an adult for an armed robbery in Weber County.
The second case stemmed from a labor dispute about whether the term “employee” applies to UTA supervisors, under the Utah Public Transit District Act. The ruling will determine whether they could unionize.
Justice Durrant said the State Supreme Court performs several roles when they decide a case. Not only do they consider a decision for the interested parties, but also the effect their ruling will have on the laws of the state.
“We feel very much the weight of the responsibility to get the case right for those individual parties, but we also have to be concerned about the broader development of the law. We’re looking to take cases that will have an impact beyond the parties. We are looking for areas where the law is unclear, where important issues have not been decided.”
After hearing the opinions in both cases, the justices said they would take the arguments under advisement and issue their written rulings at a later date.
USU president <span>Noelle Cockett </span>said it was a pleasure to host the court on campus. She expressed gratitude for those involved in the judicial branch of government, who are concerned and have a passion about the rule of law and people’s rights.
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