Rule 3-403. Judicial branch education.

Intent:

To establish the Judicial Branch Education Committee’s responsibility to develop and evaluate a comprehensive education program for all judges, commissioners and court staff.

To establish education standards for judges, commissioners and court staff, including provisions for funding and accreditation for educational programs.

To ensure that education programs, including opportunities for job orientation, skill and knowledge acquisition, and professional and personal development, are available to all members of the judicial branch and that such programs utilize the principles of adult education and focus on participative learning.

To emphasize the importance of participation by all judicial branch employees in education and training as an essential component in maintaining the quality of justice in the Utah courts.

Applicability:

This rule shall apply to all judges, commissioners and court staff, except seasonal employees and law clerks.

Statement of the Rule:

(1) Organization.

(1)(A) Judicial branch education committee. The Judicial Branch Education Committee shall submit to the Council for approval proposed policies, standards, guidelines, and procedures applicable to all judicial branch education activities. It shall evaluate and monitor the quality of educational programs and make changes where appropriate within the approved guidelines for funding, attendance, and accreditation.

(1)(B) Responsibilities of members. Committee members shall propose policies and procedures for developing, implementing, and evaluating orientation, continuing skill development, and career enhancement education opportunities for all judicial branch employees; formulate an annual education plan and calendar consistent with the judicial branch education budget; and serve as advocates for judicial branch education, including educating the judiciary about the purpose and functions of the Committee.

(1)(C) Committee meetings.

(1)(C)(i) The Committee shall meet twice a year. Additional meetings may be called as necessary. A majority of voting members in attendance is required for official Committee action.

(1)(C)(ii) The chairperson may recommend to the Council that a Committee member be replaced if that member is absent without excuse from two consecutive Committee meetings or fails to meet the responsibilities of membership as outlined in paragraph (1)(B).

(2) Administration. Judicial Education Officer. The Judicial Education Officer, under the direction of the Court Administrator, shall serve as staff to the Committee and be responsible for the administration of the judicial education program consistent with this rule.

(3) Standards for judges and court commissioners.

(3)(A)(i) Program requirements. All judges and court commissioners shall participate in a designated orientation program during their first year. All judges, court commissioners, active senior judges, and active senior justice court judges shall complete 30 hours of pre-approved education annually, to be implemented on a schedule coordinated by the Committee. Judges of courts of record and court commissioners may attend a combination of approved local, state, or national programs. Active and inactive senior judges and retired judges may attend approved local or state programs and the annual Utah Judicial Conference, but an inactive senior judge or retired judge must pay all expenses.

(3)(A)(ii) Inactive senior judges and retired judges. If an inactive senior judge or a retired judge applies to be an active senior judge, the judge shall demonstrate that:

(3)(A)(ii)(a) less than three years has passed since he or she last complied with the continuing education requirements of an active senior judge;

(3)(A)(ii)(b) he or she has complied with the MCLE requirements of the Utah State Bar for at least three years before the application;

(3)(A)(ii)(c) he or she has attended 30 hours of approved judicial education within one year before the application; or

(3)(A)(ii)(d) he or she has attended the new judge orientation for judges of the courts of record within one year before the application. (3)(B)(i) Program components. Education programs for judges and court commissioners shall include: a mandatory new judge orientation program; a variety of programs addressing substantive and procedural law topics, aimed at skill and knowledge acquisition; and programs geared to professional and personal development, to meet the continuing needs of judges and court commissioners over the long term.

(3)(B)(ii) Annual conferences. Justice court judges and active senior justice court judges shall attend the annual justice court conference unless excused by the Management Committee for good cause. Because the annual judicial conference represents the only opportunity for judges to meet and interact as a group and to elect their representatives, judges, active senior judges and court commissioners of the courts of record are strongly encouraged to attend that conference.

(4) Standards for court staff.

(4)(A) State employees.

(4)(A)(i) Program requirements. All court staff employed by the state shall complete 20 hours of approved coursework annually.

(4)(A)(ii) Program components. Education programs for court staff employed by the state shall include: on-the-job orientation for new employees as well as semi-annual Orientation Academies; skill development programs that teach technical and job-related competencies; and enhancement programs that promote personal and professional growth within the organization.

(4)(B) Local government employees.

(4)(B)(i) Program requirements. All court staff employed by the justice courts shall complete 10 hours of approved coursework annually. All other court staff employed by local government shall complete 20 hours of approved coursework annually.

(4)(B)(ii) Program components. Education programs for court staff employed by local government shall include: annual training seminar; skill development programs that teach technical and job-related competencies; and enhancement programs that promote personal and professional growth.

(5) Reporting.

(5)(A) Judges, commissioners and court staff governed by these standards shall report participation in education programs on a form developed by the Committee.

(5)(B) For court staff, compliance with judicial branch education standards shall be a performance criterion in the evaluation of all staff.

(5)(B)(i) Supervisory personnel are responsible to ensure that all staff have an opportunity to participate in the required education. Failure of a supervisor to meet the minimum education standards or to provide staff with the opportunity to meet minimum education standards will result in an unsatisfactory performance evaluation in the education criterion.

(5)(B)(ii) Failure of staff to meet the minimum education requirements will result in an unsatisfactory evaluation on the education criterion unless the employee provides documented reasons that the employee’s failure to meet the education standards is due to reasons beyond the employee’s control.

(6) Credit. Judicial education procedures shall include guidelines for determining which programs qualify as approved education within the meaning of these standards.

(7) Funding.

(7)(A) Budget. In preparing its annual request for legislative appropriations, the Council shall receive and consider recommendations from the Committee. The Committee’s annual education plan shall be based upon the Council’s actual budget allocation for judicial education.

(7)(B) In-state education programs. Judicial branch funds allocated to in-state judicial education shall first be used to support mandatory in-state orientation programs for all judicial branch employees and then for other education priorities as established by the Committee with input from the Boards of Judges and Administrative Office.

(7)(C) Out-of-state education programs. To provide for diverse educational development, to take advantage of unique national opportunities, and to utilize education programs which cannot be offered in-state, the annual education plan shall include out-of-state education opportunities. The Committee shall approve national education providers and shall include in the education procedures, criteria to be applied by the Administrative Office to out-of-state education requests. Criteria shall include relevance to the attendee’s current assignment and attendance at in-state programs. Disagreement with a decision to deny an out-of-state education request may be reviewed by a quorum of the Committee at the applicant’s request.

(7)(D) Tuition, fees, and travel. The Committee shall develop policies and procedures for paying tuition, fees, per diem, and travel for approved programs. State funds cannot be used to pay for discretionary social activities, recreation, or spouse participation. The Committee may set financial limits on reimbursement for attendance at elective programs, with the individual participant personally making up the difference in cost when the cost exceeds program guidelines.