5th District Juvenile Court gets new judges, gubernatorial appointments

L-R: Michael Leavitt, Paul Dame

ST. GEORGE – Friday, Gov. Gary R. Herbert appointed Paul Dame and Michael Leavitt to the 5th District Juvenile Court. The 5th District includes Beaver, Iron and Washington counties.

“I am proud to appoint Paul and Michael and welcome them into this new position,” Herbert said. “I have complete confidence they will uphold the highest principles of justice, kindness, civility and integrity as they serve on the 5th District Juvenile Court.”

Dame served as a Washington County Justice Court judge in St. George from 2004 to 2014. There he handled misdemeanor criminal cases, felony and misdemeanor search warrants, and probable cause bail reviews. Between 1995 and 2004, Dame worked as the St. George city prosecutor and then as chief deputy Washington County prosecutor. Dame received his Juris Doctor in 1990, graduating cum laude from Brigham Young University.

“I’ve known Paul for nearly 19 years. His intellect and dedication to justice, to fairness, are estimable,” Deputy Washington County Attorney Brian Filter, who worked with Dame, said. “I am sure he will make a fine judge and do great things for the young people and families who appear before him.”

“It’s an honor to be appointed. I’m grateful to Gov. Herbert and his staff,” Dame said. “I’m excited to work with the judges, attorneys and contributing agencies in the 5th District. I will work very hard, and I look forward to serving my community in this new capacity.”

Michael Leavitt served as an attorney at Durham Jones & Pinegar from 2002 to 2014. There he practiced commercial and business litigation, property and domestic disputes, collections and representation of creditors in bankruptcy, among others. From 2004-2006, Leavitt taught paralegal skills, including business law and ethics, at Dixie State College. He has also served as a member of the Utah State Bar Board of Commissioners since 2012. Leavitt graduated from the University of Idaho, College of Law, with his Juris Doctor in 2002.

“I am passionate about seeing families grow together and young people grow up to become successful adults,” Leavitt said. “I am honored to be part of that process in the 5th District Juvenile Court and grateful for Gov. Herbert’s confidence in me in this endeavor.”

Dame fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Hans Chamberlain on May 1. Leavitt fills the vacancy created by the resignation, due to personal health concerns, of Judge Karla Staheli on Feb. 1. The governor’s appointments are subject to confirmation by the Utah State Senate.

“I don’t foresee any issue with their confirmation,” Utah Sen. Evan Vickers said. “I think they will do a great job.” Vickers, who represents Beaver and Iron counties and a portion of Washington County, said both judges would have to be confirmed by the state senate. “We try to take care of the confirmations as soon as possible.”

“I think they will be great,”Utah Sen. Steve Urquhart said.  “I have known both of them for several years. I have known Judge Dame since 1990.” Urquhart, who sits on the six-member Judicial Confirmation Committee, also said he did not feel any issues would prevent the approval of Judge Dame and Judge Leavitt. “Two great individuals who I think will be wonderful,” Urquhart said.

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12 Comments

  • Rachel May 14, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Neither of these newly appointed judges have any experience with Juvenile court related matters. How on earth did they get appointed? Julie Nelson, who has TONS of Juvenile court experience would have made a far better and far more logical choice than either of these men.

    • My Evil Twin May 14, 2014 at 10:24 am

      Wow, your grapes sure are sour there Rach. . .

      • sagemoon May 15, 2014 at 11:14 am

        Not sour grapes, My Evil Twin, but common sense. It really is a shame not one of the judges appointed has experience in juvenile law.

  • Concerned Citizen May 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I agree Rachel! In my opinion one of the appointees was appointed by the Gov only because of his tireless efforts at applying for every available judge position in the last several years. Certainly not due to qualification.

  • Doug Ence May 14, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Paul will be good with juvenile stuff. The adult cases took him to long to look up what he could and couldn’t do. Most other judges already know that stuff.

    • THE TRUTHTELLER May 15, 2014 at 3:59 am

      SO WHAT YOU ARE SAYING DOUG IS THAT PAUL WAS A SUB PAR JUDGE AT JUSTICE COURT, WHO COMPARED TO HIS COUNTERPARTS WAS NOT NEAR AS KNOWLEDGEABLE AND HAD A HARD TIME DECIDING WHAT THE LAW WAS AND HOW TO RULE IN COURT. SO A SUB PAR JUSTICE COURT MAKES A GOOD JUVENILE COURT JUDGE, INTERESTING. SEVERAL CITIES IN THE COUNTY WENT AND STARTED THEIR OWN JUSTICE COURTS AFTER HE GOT PUT IN DUE TO THE ISSUES YOU MENTIONED. I DONT SEE HOW THIS IS A GOOD THING.

  • sagemoon May 15, 2014 at 11:12 am

    I am disappointed in one of these appointments. I’m sure Judge Dame knows how to run a courtroom and I hope he is a quick study of juvenile law and process. I’m not worried about him. I am EXTREMELY concerned about the appointment of this Leavitt guy. He knows absolutely nothing about juvenile law and practices. He has never been a judge. How do two women who have worked in juvenile law for years get passed up for this appointment? I’m very disappointed in Herbert. FYI All the judges in Fifth District are now men. Hey, Herbert, can you explain how qualified women are getting passed up for judgeships in this corner of Utah?

    • Craig May 24, 2014 at 6:03 am

      The woman aren’t part of the … holders.
      Ed. ellipsis.

      • Mean momma May 24, 2014 at 8:41 am

        … holders? Wt…?
        Ed. ellipses. (Thx MM.)

  • Mary May 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Its not what you know, its who you know.

  • Betty May 24, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Have you ever sat in a courtroom w/Dame? The idiot defendants he deals with sure ACT like juveniles! For example.:
    Dame: “Mr. Smith, can you tell me why you missed your court date?”
    Defendant: “I didn’t know about it”
    Dame: “Did you sign this saying you’d appear?”
    Defendant: “Yes”
    Dame: “How can you say you didn’t know”
    Defendant: “I must have forgot.”
    Hopefully, he can help guide stupid juveniles BEFORE they turn into idiot adults.

  • St. George Resident June 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I’m happy to see Paul get appointed. He is principled and compassionate. And he’s not a butt-kissing sycophant member of “Unnamed Religious Cult, Inc.” that seems to run this town, which means he uses his brain.

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