The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 2-3 to kill HB93 — even after its sponsor, Rep. Merrill Nelson, R-Grantsville, had the bill amended to remove its most controversial portions. The bill had earlier passed the House, 47-25.
Nelson brought this bill before the legislature because he believed that theUtah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) was violating the constitutional separation of branches by adopting criteria beyond those set by the Legislature.
Nelson said "it is a fiction" that candidates can truly be equally qualified — so CCJJ should search for the best candidates without taking race or gender into any special consideration.
The Utah Bar Association opposed the bill because of concern that removing CCJJ authority over selection criteria "impairs [the] judicial selection process."
According to data provided by the Utah State Court, out of Utah's 111 district court judges, only 29 are women, four are Latino, four are Asian and one is Native American. There are no African-American district court judges.