State senate confirms local prosecutor Spencer Walsh as First District Judge

Spencer Walsh speaking to the state senate after being confirmed as the new judge for the First District Court, Oct. 21, 2020 (Courtesy: Utah Legislature)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate has confirmed Cache County Chief Deputy Attorney Spencer Walsh as the newest judge to the First District Court. The vote Wednesday afternoon during a limited virtual hearing on the senate floor was unanimous.

Following the confirmation vote, Walsh said it was a great honor to be appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert to replace Judge Thomas Willmore, who retired in February after serving for 21 years on the bench. He expressed appreciation to fellow prosecutors and defense attorneys that had taught him to be fair minded.

I have had great mentors as judges,” expressed Walsh. “I particularly wanted to mention Judge Thomas Willmore, whose vacancy I will be filling, and Judge Kevin Allen. They have taught me so much.”

Herbert announced the nomination in September. In a press release, the governor called Walsh an “exceptional addition” who had “distinguished himself as a knowledgeable, thoughtful attorney.”

Spencer Walsh standing in front of his family while being confirmed by the state senate at the Utah Capitol, Oct. 21, 2020 (Courtesy: Utah Legislature)

During the past 12 years, Walsh has led the prosecution of several high level cases, including Torrey Green, the former Utah State University football player, convicted of raping and sexually assaulting six students. He also led the prosecution of Colter Peterson, one of the two men who pleaded guilty to shooting Deserie Turner and leaving her body in a dry canal.

Walsh emotionally spoke about Turner and her family during Wednesday’s confirmation hearing. He showed the senators a tie bar he was wearing, given to him by the Turners that had the words, tougher than a bullet, stamped on it. The phrase has been Deserie’s motto during her recovery.

“She was shot and she survived. She is a great citizen of our state. Her and her family showed forgiveness, toughness, and grit to survive such a violent crime.”

Prior to working in the Cache County Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor, Walsh served as a deputy prosecuting attorney for the West Valley City Attorney’s Office. He also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Rockies in Colorado Springs and San Diego State University from 2010 to 2018. He received a juris doctorate from the J. Reuben Clark College of Law at Brigham Young University and holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology.

Walsh expressed appreciation to his wife, Nikki, who married him as he began law school 16 years ago. He also thanked the senators for their confirming vote, and assured them that he would uphold the law.

I will show judicial restraint and will not legislate from the bench. I will respect the separation of powers and I will follow the constitution.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Walsh is being sworn to the bench during a private ceremony. A public event is being considered when restrictions are lifted.

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