Justice Christine M. Durham – A Passion for Public Good
Keith A. Call, J.
“Work hard, be professional and civil, take pride and joy in what you do.”
– Justice Christine Durham, Advice to Newly Admitted Female Members of the Utah State Bar
I do not know Justice Durham well. But her mark on my life as a lawyer in Utah is profound. To me, Justice Durham will always stand as a model of someone who uses her legal training for the betterment of the law and society. Among many other things, the Utah State Bar is far better off because of Justice Durham’s immense work in the areas of civility, training, and education.
In 2006, while Justice Durham was serving as Chief Justice, the Utah Supreme Court adopted the Utah Standards of Professionalism and Civility. Those standards have had a major impact on my own practice of law, and probably yours too. At the time of adoption, Justice Durham wrote: Our profession has by tradition been a learned and respected one, but respect must be constantly earned and deserved. Public trust and confidence in the American system of justice depend in significant part on the integrity and high standards of professional behavior to which every lawyer (and judge) should aspire.
Christine M. Durham, Promoting the Standards of Professionalism and Civility, 19 utah B.J. 8, 8 (Nov/Dec. 2006).
These are words to live by. And by all accounts, Justice Durham has lived by them. In 2007, the National Center for State Courts gave Justice Durham its William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence. This is one of the most prestigious judicial awards in the country and recognizes judges who display the highest level of fairness, integrity, and professional ethics. A year later, Utah Valley University’s Center for the Study of Ethics recognized Justice Durham with its Excellence in Ethics Award.
Justice Durham has been a passionate advocate for judicial and civil education. In a 2008 op-ed piece published in the Salt Lake Tribune, Justice Durham wrote: While our leaders have an...