Utah Law Developments Appellate Highlights

JurisdictionUtah,United States
Pages19
CitationVol. 36 No. 6 Pg. 19
Publication year2023
Utah Law Developments Appellate Highlights
Vol. 36 No. 6 Pg. 19
Utah Bar Journal
December 2023

November 2023

by Rodney R. Parker, Dani Cepernich, Robert Cummings, Nathanael Mitchell, and Andrew Roth

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following appellate cases of interest were recently decided by the Utah Supreme Court, Utah Court of Appeals, and United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The following summaries have been prepared by the authoring attorneys listed above, who are solely responsible for their content.

Utah Supreme Court

Matter of Discipline of Kinikini

2023 UT 17, 533 P.3d 1156 (July 20, 2023)

In this attorney discipline case, the supreme court rejected the attorney's argument that, where the basis for discipline is the attorney's criminal conduct, the court must evaluate the actual conduct, not just the elements of the crime. The Rules of Professional Practice direct a court to consider only the elements of the crime itself when determining whether that crime reflects adversely on an attorney's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness to practice law.

Utah Court of Appeals

Graves v. Utah County Government 2023 UT App 73 (July 6, 2023)

Graves, a former commissioner for Utah County, sued the county, his fellow commissioners, and a county employee, claiming they defamed him in connection with the disclosure to the media of internal reports of alleged harassment. The court of appeals affirmed dismissal of Graves' vicarious liability claims against the county on the basis of governmental immunity, holding that Utah's Governmental Immunity Act does not waive the "broad, background" immunity of a governmental entity for intentional torts, including deliberate defamation. However, the appellate court reversed dismissal of the underlying claims against the individual defendants, reasoning that the Act waives immunity for individual governmental employees who engage in "willful misconduct." Because Graves adequately alleged that the individual defendants engaged in "willful" defamation, the individual defendants were not immune and Graves' claims against them could proceed past the pleading stage.

Anderson v. Daggett School District 2023 UT App 76 (July 20, 2023)

In this appeal from a hearing officer's determination upholding the termination of a teacher, the court of appeals addressed its jurisdiction over the matter. The court of appeals had previously transferred the plaintiff's petition filed in that court to the...

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