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Utah created its Court of Appeals in 1987 to help alleviate the caseload of the Supreme Court. There are seven judges on the Court of Appeals who serve six-year renewable terms. They vote as a group to select one presiding judge, and he or she serves that role for two years. Each of the Court of Appeals judges is listed in the Utah Courts website “Gallery of Judges” with photos and biographies of each.
Utah’s Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in the state and has jurisdiction that is similar to the Supreme Court. This court can hear appeals from District Courts and Juvenile Courts except for small claims cases. They take appeals regarding domestic relations, property division, child support, child custody, divorce, annulment, visitation, adoption and paternity and criminal matters that are not capital or first-degree offenses. Those go directly to the Supreme Court. This court also hears appeals from state agencies like the Utah Industrial Commission and the Department of Employment Security Career Service Review Board. At any time, the Supreme Court can assign any type of appeal case to the Court of Appeals.
The Utah Court of Appeals holds their sessions in Salt Lake City usually, but they do travel throughout the state and hold sessions elsewhere on occasion. They operate in rotating panels of three judges. The state law does not allow the Court of Appeals to sit en banc (all seven judges). Each of the panels hears oral arguments on the third and fourth weeks of the month. They review briefs prepared by each side and determine if the law was correctly applied in the original trial. They then write their decision as an “opinion.” Opinions are posted on the Utah Courts website for public review.
The Court of Appeals judges are supported by the Clerk of the court, attorneys, legal secretaries, deputy clerks, and central administrative staff.