Utah’s Justice Courts are the lowest trial courts in the state and courts of limited jurisdiction. These courts are established within municipalities and counties, and their specific jurisdictions are determined by local government who hire the judges.
Justice Courts focus mainly on Class B and Class C misdemeanors, along with local ordinance violations, small claims and other infractions that occur within their city/county limits. Justice Courts can process small claims cases of up to $10,000 and they see a lot of traffic violations.
Justice Courts have two types of judges, municipal judges and county judges. County judges are appointed by the county commission, and city officials elect the municipal court judges. Both serve six-year terms that are renewable. Some judges are both municipal and county judges and serve both venues. Some Justice Court judges have limited court hours, and some see cases daily. They do not have to be lawyers, but they do need extensive training. To stay certified, all Justice Court judges need to attend 30 hours of continuing education every year. There are 108 Justice Court judges in the 134 counties/municipalities of the state.
The Utah Courts website includes a Justice Court section with information on the judges called the “Gallery of Judges” complete with photos and biographies of each one. The site also has every Justice Court location for patrons to easily find the one closest to them. There is a section for Justice Court resources and other Justice Court websites throughout the state. Additionally, they offer an overview of the system and problem-solving court information. The main site also assists patrons by supplying forms and guides to navigate the judicial system process along with contact information for more details. They also have a court records search area to find specific cases.