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Commission votes against retaining judge on November ballot

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission has recommended against retaining a judge on the November ballot.

In a 7-2 vote published in its voter guide, the commission said it did not support retaining Third District Court Judge Su Chon.

“Judge Su Chon fails to meet the minimum performance standard for legal ability and scores well below the average of her district court peers in all other survey categories. Survey respondents focus on her perceived weakness in following legal precedent, lack of meaningful legal analysis in written decisions, and slow decision-making,” the commission wrote.

Su Chon, in a 2012 interview with FOX 13 after her confirmation by the Utah State Senate.

Third District Court Judge Su Chon, in a 2012 interview with FOX 13 after her confirmation by the Utah State Senate.

JPEC said that courtroom observers found Judge Chon hardworking, while others described her as a “no nonsense professional” who ran an efficient court. While she scored lower than other judges on its ranking system, JPEC also noted that 63 percent of survey respondents supported retaining her.

In her own statement provided to voters, Judge Chon said she works hard and her rulings have not been overturned by higher courts. Her statement reads in full:

“Governor Herbert appointed me in 2012, and the majority of those reviewing me voted to retain. I ask you to retain me. I feel fortunate to have been welcomed into this country as a child. My grandfathers were tortured and mistreated because North Korea refused to uphold the law – this drives the person and judge I am today. My family’s experiences inspire me to carefully and fairly apply the rule of law. I respect the process, and I work hard. My rulings have not been overturned on appeal. Thank you for your support.”

Only one other judge in the guide — Fourth District Court Judge Darold McDade — faced issues in JPEC’s evaluations.

Fourth District Court Judge Darold McDade during the Megan Grunwald murder trial. (Courtroom pool image via Provo Daily Herald)

Fourth District Court Judge Darold McDade during the Megan Grunwald murder trial. (Courtroom pool image via Provo Daily Herald)

“Survey respondents express doubt about the depth of Judge McDade’s legal knowledge and his ability to properly adjudicate complex matters. They question the clarity and reasoning of his oral and written rulings,” it wrote.

In a 7-5 vote, the commission voted to support his retention.

Judges are appointed by the governor, confirmed by the Senate and retained by voters. They are among the least known of those whose names appear on the ballot. In an effort to provide information to voters, JPEC publishes a guide with information based off of surveys and courtroom observation.

The guide can be found here.