Utah courts hold community forum

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Luz Garcia knows a lot of lawyers.

“In my family, everyone’s a lawyer,” said Garcia, a native Mexican.

Unfortunately, Garcia said all those lawyers are in Mexico City and can’t help her navigate Utah’s court system.

“I want to know my rights, my responsibilities,” Garcia said.

So Garcia attended a community forum in Salt Lake City’s Centro Civico Mexicano Wednesday night, where she can ask questions about the courts and hear directly from a handful of state judges and attorneys.

Jesse Soriano helped put the forum together as a member of an outreach advisory committee for Utah State Courts. He said the goal is to reach out Utah’s Latino, African-American, Pacific Islander and Asian communities.

“To (help them) understand more how the court system works,” Soriano said. “Where you go, which courts handle which kind of cases.”

But Soriano said the forums serve another important purpose: helping judges learn more about the people they serve.

“They have to know more about our communities,” Soriano said. “They have to understand minority communities a little better than they do.”

Soriano said immigration is not discussed at the community forums because it’s an issue for federal courts.

Utah State Courts spokesperson Nancy Volmer said they have already held a public forum to address issues and concerns among the African-American community. There’s another meeting being planned for the state’s Pacific Islander population.