Utah Courts

 

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Judges' Biographies

UTAH JUDICIAL COUNCIL

CHAIR, CHIEF JUSTICE MATTHEW B. DURRANT

Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant was appointed to the Utah Supreme Court in January 2000 by Governor Michael O. Leavitt. At the time, he was serving as a trial judge in the Third Judicial District. Justice Durrant has served as the Supreme Court representative on the Utah Judicial Council and as Associate Chief Justice. He was the founding chair of the Supreme Court's Professionalism Committee and has chaired the Judicial Council's Technology Committee. In addition, Justice Durrant chaired the Supreme Court Committee charged with the revision of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Justice Durrant received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1984. After a clerkship with Judge Monroe G. McKay of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Justice Durrant joined the Salt Lake law firm now known as Parr, Waddoups, Brown, Gee, & Loveless, where he was a shareholder at the time of his appointment to the district bench. Justice Durrant also has taught as an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School. 1/12

VICE CHAIR, JUDGE TODD M. SHAUGHNESSY

JUDGE TODD M. SHAUGHNESSY

Judge Todd Shaughnessy was appointed to the Third District Court in 2011 by Governor Gary Herbert. Judge Shaughnessy graduated from the University of Utah College of Law, clerked for the Utah Supreme Court, and was a partner at Snell & Wilmer in Salt Lake City, prior to his appointment. Judge Shaughnessy is a member of the Utah Judicial Council, the governing body for Utah's judiciary, and a member of the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission. Judge Shaughnessy received the Judicial Excellence Award from the Utah State Bar's Litigation Section in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. He is a fellow in the American Bar Foundation, a member of the American and Utah State Bar associations, past president of the Salt Lake County Bar Association, and a Master of the Bench in the David K. Watkiss Sutherland Inn of Court. 5/20

JUDGE KEITH C. BARNES

JUDGE KEITH C. BARNES

Judge Keith C. Barnes was appointed to the Fifth District Court in February 2014 by Gov. Gary R. Herbert. He serves Iron, Washington, and Beaver counties. Judge Barnes graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Brigham Young University and received a law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1994. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Barnes was a partner at Barnes Law Offices, Jensen, Graff & Barnes, and Park, Park, & Barnes. He has served as a member of the Southern Utah University National Advisory Board, Utah Radiation Control Board, and as a board of director at Allegiance Direct Bank. 4/15

JUDGE SAMUEL P. CHIARA

JUDGE SAMUEL P. CHIARA

Judge Samuel P. Chiara was appointed to the Eighth District Court by Governor Gary Herbert in August 2013. He serves in Daggett, Duchesne, and Uintah counties. Judge Chiara received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University. He graduated magna cum laude receiving a juris doctorate degree from J. Reuben Clark Law School, BYU, in 1997. Prior to his appointment, Judge Chiara practiced at a firm in Price, Utah. He practiced first with Keith Chiara and later as a partner in Chiara & Torgerson. His practice included criminal defense, domestic, probate, contract, property, parental defense, and personal injury law. Judge Chiara also served as defense counsel for the Carbon County Drug Court. Judge Chiara was awarded the Utah State Bar Litigation Section Judicial Excellence Award in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020. He served on the Board of District Court Judges from 2017-2020 and currently serves on the Judicial Council on the Policy and Planning Committee. 5/21

JUDGE AUGUSTUS G. CHIN

JUDGE AUGUSTUS G.  CHIN

Judge Augustus G. Chin was appointed to the Holladay Justice Court in August 2011. The Holladay Justice Court serves the cities of Holladay and Cottonwood Heights. Judge Chin received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah College Of Law. He also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Spanish from the University of Utah. Prior to attending law school he was a civilian employee with the Department of the Army, working as a maintenance management production controller/ planner at the Tooele Army Depot. He served a law clerk-bailiff and law clerk for 3rd District Judge Tyrone E. Medley. Judge Chin was a prosecutor for the Salt Lake City Prosecutor's Office and the Summit County Attorney's Office. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Chin worked as a criminal defense attorney for Wasatch Advocates and Rasmussen and Miner. Judge Chin served as president of the Utah State Bar from 2006 to 2007, as a Utah State Bar Commissioner from 2001 to 2008, president of the Utah Minority Bar Association from 1998 to 1999, president of the Law-Related Education Board 2011-2013, and president of the Utah Bar Foundation. He was also a member of the Utah Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Professionalism and Civility from 2002 -2015. Judge Chin is a member of the Board of Justice Court Judges and is Chair of the Trust & Confidence Committee. In 2016 he received the Justice Court Service Award. He was named the Minority Bar Association Lawyer of the Year in 2007, received the Scott M. Matheson Award for Service to Law-Related Education in 2003, and the University of Utah College Of Law Young Alumnus of the Year Award in 2000. 11/16

JUDGE DAVID M. CONNORS

JUDGE DAVID M. CONNORS

Judge David M. Connors was appointed to Utah's Second District Court by Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. and took office in January 2008. He serves Davis, Morgan, and Weber counties. Judge Connors earned a law degree from Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark Law School where he was a member of the Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. He received his bachelor's degree from Yale University. Immediately after law school, Judge Connors served as a law clerk with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York. After his clerkship, Judge Connors was in private practice for nearly 30 years, most of which with the Utah office of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, L.L.P., where he served as head of the Utah litigation group. Judge Connors is a past chairman of the Business Law Section of the Utah State Bar and has served as a board member of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, the Davis County Council of Governments, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah, and several charitable foundations, including the Davis Education Foundation. He also served as Mayor of Farmington City from 2002 to 2006, after previously serving eight years on Farmington's city council. He served as presiding judge of the Second District from 2018-2020, and also serves as an officer of the ABA Judicial Division's National Conference of State Trial Judges. 11/18

PRESIDING JUDGE RYAN B. EVERSHED

PRESIDING JUDGE RYAN B. EVERSHED

Judge Ryan B. Evershed was appointed to the Eighth District Juvenile Court in August 2013 by Gov. Gary R. Herbert. He serves Duchesne, Uintah, and Daggett counties. Judge Evershed gained valuable experience in Juvenile Court when he represented the Child Protection Division of the Utah Attorney General's Office in court cases involving child abuse, neglect, and dependency. In 2008, Judge Evershed opened his own practice, which specialized in family, criminal, and juvenile law. Judge Evershed received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Toledo College of Law. 5/15

JUDGE PAUL C. FARR

JUDGE PAUL C. FARR

Judge Farr was appointed to the Sandy City Justice Court in 2012. Judge Farr received an A.S. in History from Dixie State College, a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Weber State University, and a J.D. from Brigham Young University. Judge Far has been a member of the Utah State Bar since 2000. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Farr was a partner in a Salt Lake City law firm. He has previously worked for the Utah Attorney General's Office, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and in private practice. 6/11

PRESIDING JUDGE MICHELLE E. HEWARD

PRESIDING JUDGE MICHELLE E. HEWARD

Judge Michelle E. Heward was appointed to the Second District Juvenile Court by Gov. Gary R. Herbert in July, 2010. She presides over delinquency and child welfare cases primarily in Weber County. Judge Heward earned her Juris Doctors from the University of Utah in 1987 and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Weber State University in 1982. Judge Heward started her legal career in private practice in Ogden, then worked as a deputy Weber County attorney with her primary assignment in juvenile court. She subsequently earned the rank of full professor and taught criminal justice at Weber State University in both the undergraduate and graduate programs for 15 years. During a portion of that time she also served as a justice court judge in Riverdale and South Ogden cities. She presides over a Family Drug Court, serves as a member of the Utah Judicial Council, Utah Youth Court Committee, Children's Justice Center Community Board, and Communities That Care Key Leader Board. She has served as chair of the Board of Juvenile Court Judges and on various other judicial, university, community and statewide committees and boards. 3/21

JUDGE MARK W. MAY

JUDGE MARK W. MAY

Judge Mark W. May was appointed to Third District Juvenile Court in July 2007 by Gov. Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. He serves Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge May worked for the Utah Attorney General's Office where he was the division chief of the Child Protection Division. Judge May also worked for the Office of the Guardian ad Litem and the law firm of Moyle & Draper, P.C. Judge May earned a degree in Business Finance from Brigham Young University in 1984 and received his law degree from the University of Utah School of Law in 1989.Judge May is currently the Presiding Judge for Third District Juvenile Court. He is also a member of the Board of Juvenile Court Judges, and is a past chair of the Board. Judge May previously served on the Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct and served on the Advisory Board of the Tooele County Children's Justice Center for several years. 8/16

JUDGE DAVID N. MORTENSEN

Judge David N. Mortensen was appointed to the Utah Court of Appeals in May 2016 by Gov. Gary R. Herbert. Prior to his appointment, Judge Mortensen served as a trial judge in the Fourth District Court for almost ten years where he served multiple terms as the presiding judge and associate presiding judge. Judge Mortensen graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University in 1993. Judge Mortensen was in private practice as a trial attorney before becoming a judge. He is a member of the A. Sherman Christensen Inn of Court. He has taught as an adjunct professor at The J. Reuben Clark Law School. Judge Mortensen previously served as a member of the Utah Judicial Council and as a member of the Board of District Court Judges. Judge Mortensen received the 2016 Distinguished Service Award from the Government and Politics Legal Society of the J. Reuben Clark Law School. Judge Mortensen is currently the Chair of the Court Facilities Planning Committee, and is a member of the Utah State Court's Technology Committee. Judge Mortensen also currently serves on the Judicial Conduct Commission and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. 8/20

JUSTICE PAIGE PETERSEN

Justice Paige Petersen was appointed to the Utah Supreme court in December 2017 by Governor Gary Herbert. Before joining the Supreme Court, she was a district court judge in the Third Judicial District, which serves Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties. Justice Petersen graduated summa cum laude from the University of Utah in 1995, after first obtaining an associates degree from the College of Eastern Utah in Price. She received her law degree from Yale Law School in 1999. After graduation, she clerked for two years in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. After her clerkship, she joined the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City, practicing civil litigation. She then transitioned to criminal law, serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. There, she handled cases involving organized crime and international narcotics trafficking. Petersen then prosecuted war crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands, where she was a member of the trial team responsible for successfully prosecuting the former Serbian Chief of Police for ethnic cleansing and mass murder in Kosovo. She then returned to Utah and joined the U.S. Attorneys Office in Salt Lake City, where she prosecuted violent crimes for three years before taking the bench. 11/17

JUDGE KARA L. PETTIT

JUDGE KARA L. PETTIT

Judge Kara L. Pettit was appointed to the Third District Court in September 2014 by Governor Gary R. Herbert. She currently serves full time in Salt Lake County. She is a member of the Judicial Council and also serves on the Grand Jury Panel. Judge Pettit is also a member of the Utah Bar's New Lawyer Training Program Committee and is on the Bar's subcommittee responsible for preparing the questions for the landlord/tenant portion of the Bar's licensed paralegal practitioner examination. Judge Pettit graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from the University of Northern Iowa, magna cum laude, in 1988. From 1988-1992 she was an internal auditor for 3M Company in St. Paul, Minnesota. She obtained her law degree from the University of Utah's College of Law in 1995. From 1995-1999, she was a deputy prosecuting attorney for the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney's Office in Boise, Idaho, serving in various capacities, including the misdemeanor, juvenile, child protection, and felony divisions. In December 1999, she joined the law firm of Snow, Christensen & Martineau, where she practiced civil litigation until being appointed to the bench in 2014. Prior to her appointment on the bench, Judge Pettit volunteered with several organizations or projects over the years, including the Ada County Human Rights Task Force, pro bono Guardian Ad Litem program, pro bono Legal Clinic at Guadelupe School, and The Road Home Development Committee. 1/19

JUDGE DEREK P. PULLAN

Judge Derek P. Pullan was appointed in September 2003 by Gov. Michael O. Leavitt. He serves Juab, Millard, Utah, and Wasatch counties. Judge Pullan is a member of the Utah Judicial Council and chairs the Council's Policy and Planning Committee. He has served on the Utah Supreme Court's advisory committee on the civil rules of procedure and the advisory committee on indigent defense. He served as chairman of the Board of District Court Judges and presiding judge of the Fourth District Court. He is a frequent presenter on evidence law at judicial conferences and has taught evidence at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. Judge Pullan graduated cum laude from the J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1993 and was a law clerk at the Utah Supreme Court. 4/18

JUDGE BROOK SESSIONS

Judge Brook Sessions serves Wasatch County and Lindon City Justice Courts. Judge Sessions graduated from Utah State University where he majored in business with a specialization in finance and a minor in economics. After graduating from Utah State, he attended law school at the University of Oregon, graduating in 1991 with a J. D. degree. Judge Sessions worked as a clerk for an Oregon Circuit Court judge before returning to Utah where he has worked in private practice since 1992. He represented parties in a wide variety of cases and facilitated case resolution as a mediator. Judge Sessions is admitted in all Utah state and federal courts as well as in the Oregon courts. He is or has been a member of the Utah State Bar, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the American Bar Association, and the Utah Trial Lawyers Association. When not adjudicating cases in Wasatch County and Lindon City, Judge Sessions continues to mediate family law cases all over the state. 9/15

The Utah State Courts mission is to provide the people an open, fair, efficient, and independent system for the advancement of justice under the law.

Page Last modified: 10/21/2021

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