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UTAH COURT ACCESS IN CIVIL CASES REMAINS RESTRICTED WITH SIGNIFICANT IMPACT TO JURY TRIALS
May 18, 2020


All information in this COVID-19 Response Resource issue is effective as of May 18, 2020.

STATE COURT CIVIL CASES

On May 11, the Utah Supreme Court and Utah Judicial Council issued an Order replacing the May 1, 2020, Administrative Order governing operations of Utah state courts. Among the significant pronouncements:

  • While the Order does not provide for a blanket extension of filing deadlines, lawyers are “encouraged” to stipulate to extensions of time in their cases, and judges are “directed to grant liberally motions for extensions of time.”
  • Hearings will continue to be conducted remotely at the trial court level (meaning telephone or videoconference) unless the judge determines that “exigent circumstances” dictate the hearing be held in person. At the appellate court level, all oral arguments will be conducted remotely.
  • There will be no civil jury trials “pending further administrative orders.” It is possible that the moratorium on civil jury trials will be extended for several more months.
  • Bench trials can proceed remotely. If a party objects to a bench trial proceeding remotely and wants it to be conducted in person, the judge has the discretion to overrule that objection.
  • If a party asked for a jury trial in a pleading, the parties can now stipulate to a bench trial held remotely.

FEDERAL COURT CIVIL CASES

General Order 20-12, issued April 28, by Chief Judge Robert Shelby, is still in place, although this Order may be extended or modified by early next month. Among the significant parts of this Order:

  • Absent “specific and compelling exceptional circumstances,” even with applications for temporary restraining orders or injunctions, all civil hearings will be conducted remotely (meaning telephone or videoconference) through June 15, 2020.
  • Bench trials may be held in person “as necessary and appropriate in individual cases,” in the determination of that presiding judge.
  • All civil jury trials are continued through June 15, 2020. Individual judges may continue trial-related deadlines at their discretion.

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