Month: October 2016

Utah State Court Administrator Dan Becker Announces His Retirement

Park City, UT — Utah State Court Administrator Dan Becker has announced he will be retiring May 1, 2017, after 21 years of service to the Utah State Courts.

Speaking before the Utah Courts’ annual judicial conference in Park City, Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant said Utah’s judicial system has become widely respected throughout the country for its quality of judges, governance, and administration. “We are fortunate to live and work in a judicial system that is truly a national model,” Durrant said.

The Chief Justice attributed this to three things: quality judges who are chosen through a non-partisan, merit-based process that is as exacting and rigorous as any in the country; Utah’s unique courts governance structure through the Utah Judicial Council; and the 21 years of leadership Becker has provided. “The consensus nationally is that Utah has the best court administrator in the country,” Durrant said.

Becker said he was grateful for the Utah Supreme Court’s confidence in him over the years. “The Supreme Court took a chance when they hired a young man from North Carolina in 1995,” Becker said. “I was honored to be appointed, and even more honored to have had the opportunity to serve so long. Utah has one of the finest court systems in the country, and I’m very proud to have been a part of the very fine work being done every day by our judges and staff.”

“Utah’s court system is the international gold standard,” for state court systems, said Mary C. McQueen, president of the National Center for State Courts.

Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert lauded Becker’s commitment to the Utah courts. “We are better off because of Dan’s 21 years of dedicated service,” Herbert told judges. “Utah’s court system is second to none in the nation, largely because of individuals such as Dan who work with diligence and devotion.”

Becker has served as State Court Administrator at the Administrative Office of the Courts for the State of Utah since 1995. In that capacity, he is responsible to the Utah Supreme Court and Utah Judicial Council for the administration of the state court system. From 1984 to 1995, Becker worked for the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts serving in the positions of: Deputy Director (1993-1995); Court Services Administrator (1986-1993); and Assistant to the Director (1984-1986). He also held the position of Trial Court Administrator for the Fourteenth Judicial District of North Carolina, and Assistant Director of Operations for the Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts. Becker was the recipient of the 2006 Warren E. Burger Award for Excellence in Judicial Administration, and has been appointed twice by President Barack Obama to the board of directors of the State Justice Institute, and became its acting chair earlier this year. He holds a B.A. and M.P.A. from Florida Atlantic University.

A nationwide search for a new court administrator will be conducted from November to December 2016. Interviews will be conducted by the Utah Judicial Council’s Management Committee, which will select three finalists to send to the Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice, who will select a nominee. By state statute, the nominee must be confirmed upon the concurrence of the Utah Supreme Court.
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Judge William Thorne Honored with NationalLifetime Achievement Award

Park City, UT — Retired Utah Court of Appeals Judge William A. Thorne Jr. has received the Distinguished Service Award by the National Center for State Courts.

The award was presented to Thorne during the Utah State Courts’ annual judicial conference on Wednesday by Mary C. McQueen, president of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).

McQueen praised Utah’s judiciary for the quality of its judges. “Utah’s judges don’t retire, they just find new things to do.” In the case of Judge Thorne, “Judge Thorne is a passionate judicial champion for improving outcomes for children and families in the court system. NCSC is fortunate to benefit from the long-standing experience Judge Thorne brings from his 30 years’ experience as a state court trial judge, tribal judge, and state court appellate judge.”

Thorne has been nationally recognized for his work in helping to establish improved guidelines for judges across the country for children in foster care. McQueen said Thorne has accomplished this by encouraging judges to focus on the relationships surrounding the foster child rather than just removal and safety.

Thorne thanked the national center for the honor, and thanked his fellow judges in Utah for their support over the years.

Thorne was appointed to the Utah Court of Appeals in May 2000 by Gov. Michael O. Leavitt and served on the appellate court until his retirement in 2013. He was a judge in the Third Circuit Court for eight years, and served in the Third District Court for six years.

He received a B.A. from the University of Santa Clara in 1974 and a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1977. Thorne has served as a tribal court judge in Utah, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Michigan. He is the former president of the National Indian Justice Center (a nonprofit that trains tribal court personnel around the country), and a member of the Board of Directors for National CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates, a nonprofit group that provides volunteer representation for abused and neglected children in court). He has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute (a nonprofit seeking to improve the level of research and practice related to adoptions), and a member of the ABA Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children. He is a former member of the Utah Judicial Council, the Board of Circuit Court Judges, and the Board of Directors for the National Indian Court Judge’s Association, among many other public service positions.

NCSC presents six Distinguished Service awards annually to those who have made significant contributions to the court system and to the work of the NCSC. The awards recognize one person from each of the following categories: current of former state appellate judge; current of former state trial judge; state-level court administrator or employee; trial-level court administrator or employee; attorney or other individual not employed by the courts; and current or former international judge or court executive.

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