Utah earns ‘F’ for judicial financial disclosure

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The Center for Public Integrity evaluated the disclosure rules for judges in the highest state courts nationwide. The level of disclosure in the 50 states and the District of Columbia was poor, with 43 receiving failing grades, making it difficult for the public to identify potential conflicts of interest on the bench. Despite the lack of information in the public records, the Center’s investigation found nearly three dozen conflicts, questionable gifts and entanglements among top judges around the country. Here’s what the Center found in Utah:

Strengths:

None.

Weaknesses:

Utah justices, who are appointed to 10-year renewable terms by the governor, are not required to disclose any information about their personal financial interests. The only instance in which financial disclosure becomes an issue is if a judge is running for election and is required to report contributions and expenditures. No personal financial information is required, though.

Highlights:

Due to Utah’s merit selection process, such a scenario has never occurred, Utah Court Administrator Dan Becker said. “No justice has ever had an organized campaign against him or her under the current selection process,” he wrote in an email. “Accordingly, there has never been a campaign financial disclosure filed on behalf of a justice of the Supreme Court.”