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A POTENTIAL FOR IN-COURT CIVIL HEARINGS SOON IN FEDERAL COURT, BUT UTAH STATE COURTS REMAIN CLOSED FOR IN-PERSON CIVIL PROCEEDINGS FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE
August 04, 2020


All information in this COVID-19 Response Resource issue is effective as of August 4, 2020.

Parsons Behle & Latimer litigators continue to provide top-notch, cutting-edge service to clients despite COVID-19 restrictions. In June, a Parsons Behle trial team participated in the first remotely-held bench trial in Utah federal court during COVID-19 with Judge David Nuffer presiding.  

THE CURRENT STATUS OF CIVIL PROCEEDINGS IN UTAH FEDERAL COURT

On July 29, the United States District Court of the District of Utah issued a General Order regarding court proceedings during the COVID-19 outbreak. This General Order continues all jury trials through Sept. 1. It also allows in-person civil hearings to be held in exceptional circumstances, which may, at the judge’s discretion, include TRO’s or injunctions. 

As of Aug. 2, Utah is on a four-day downward trend in the number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases. The General Order addresses the potential for in-person civil proceedings to occur once Utah sees a sustained 14-day average downward trend in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Once that happens, so long as there are also no suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases in the courthouse:

  • The federal court will enter Phase I, resuming “critical” in-person civil hearings and “critical” civil bench trials.
  • Once Utah has seen a second sustained 14-day average downward trend, the court will enter Phase II, where all civil cases will be open for in-person hearings and bench trials. Telephonic or videoconference hearings may still occur at the judge’s discretion.
  • Once Utah has seen a third sustained 14-day average downward trend, the court will enter Phase III, where full civil trials can resume once the backlog in criminal trials is sufficiently addressed. 

THE CURRENT STATUS OF CIVIL PROCEEDINGS IN UTAH STATE COURT

Utah’s state district courts remain under the June 26, 2020, Administrative Order. The district courts in all counties except Daggett, which is now in the more permissive yellow phase, remain in the red phase. Under this phase:

  • No criminal or civil jury trials may be held.
  • Bench trials can be held remotely if all parties consent; the judge may nonetheless order a civil bench trial to be held remotely if the judge determines a party is unreasonably withholding consent.
  • Civil hearings are held telephonically or via videoconferencing.
  • Lawyers are encouraged to stipulate to extensions of time, and judges are to liberally grant motions for extensions of time.

For additional questions regarding these or other litigation-related matters, contact Julianne Blanch by calling (801) 532-1234 or send an email to jblanch@parsonsbehle.com.

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