Monday, November 17, 2008

Oddities of the Judge Hilder confirmation fight

Rumors are swirling around the legal community about the odd behavior of one member of the committee that recommended the confirmation of Judge Robert Hilder to the Court of Appeals last week -- and, for once, they're not about Sen. Chris Buttars. This time, the rumors are about Sen. Lyle Hillyard, a lawyer. Hillyard made the motion to recommend Hilder, but then launched into a 10-minute diatribe that ranged from whether Hilder is active LDS to the reasons for Hilder's divorce years ago. Hillyard's rambling speech was said to be so eye-opening that fellow lawyer and committee chair Sen. Greg Bell immediately had to "remind the committee" that judicial appointments are supposed to be based on legal qualifications and not certain things like religion, etc.

It seems too bizarre to be true, but a couple of clicks on the legislature's nifty audio links confirmed it. (By the way, leg-webbers, thank you for breaking the audio down now by speaker - it's very convenient.) Last year, we jokingly offered $100 to anyone who could prove inappropriate conduct by Buttars, a la Larry Flynt. But if senators are going to start sticking their noses into judicial candidates' religion and marriages, we will make the offer real, and extend it to all senators, figuring it's fair game now.

Hilder has been endorsed by 13 recent Utah State Bar presidents, but what do they know? Ironically, according to the Tribune, Hilder may not get confirmed because senators such as Buttars think that Hilder should have delved into the Second Amendment in a ruling several years ago instead of confining his ruling to an interpretation of statute. In other words, Sen. Buttars wishes that Hilder had been -- yes -- an activist judge. There's just no pleasing these guys.

P.S. No picture today. Note to the Trib: Bigger pictures, please...

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