Last week the Morgan County Nominating Commission announced the appointment of the Honorable Brian Edward Brower to fill the Morgan County Justice Court vacancy. The position will replace Judge Tony Hassell, a local resident who will retire effective Dec. 30, 2016.
Although four Morgan County Council members voted on Brower’s appointment, two others were rooting for local candidate Alan Brooks.
“I really personally wanted Brooks because his experience really mirrors Judge Hassell’s,” Councilman Ned Mecham said.
Brooks is a graduate of Morgan High School and auburn University in Alabama. He offers professional marriage, family and individual counseling. Alan Brooks has a total of 20 years counseling experience. He has worked with his brother, Chet, at Northern Utah Therapy Services since 2007 and opened a new Morgan office in October. The brothers have spent years helping juveniles and are certified in treating Network on Juveniles Offending Sexually (NOJOS) Levels 1 and 2.
Councilman Robert Kilmer joined Mecham in voting for Brook’s nomination. However, in the end, councilmembers voting for Brower won out, saying that a background in law was important to running Morgan’s justice court.
A member of the Utah State Bar and admitted to practice law for the U.S. District Court-District of Utah, Judge Brian E. Brower represented three cities and one county when he practiced law for over 15 years in the 2nd and 3rd district courts.
A West Point resident, Brower earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature with a minor in criminal justice from Weber State University in 1996. He then graduated from the SJ Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah in 1999.
Upon graduation and passing the bar, he was hired as a deputy county attorney for the Weber County Attorney’s Office. He later served as both the Murray City prosecutor as well as the Layton City prosecutor before being appointed as Clearfield’s City Attorney in 2007.
As Clearfield’s city attorney, Brower earned more than $146,000 gross compensation in fiscal year 2015, according to utahsright.com. He served as in that capacity for eight years until being appointed as judge for the Clearfield Justice Court in August of 2015. In Clearfield, Brower replaced retiring Judge John L. Sandberg.
On Jan. 1, 2017, Brower will also begin serving as the Sunset City Justice Court judge. Brower will take over in Sunset after Judge Jerald Jensen retired following 29 years of service.
That means that when Brower takes over as Morgan’s part-time justice court judge, he will also be spending time working in similar capacities in Sunset and Clearfield.
Paul Olds, a practicing attorney living in Pleasant View, was the third name the nominating commission passed on to the state. County Council Chairman Austin Turner also threw his hat in the judgeship ring, but his name was not among those passed on to the state.
Mecham noted that in Utah, justice court judges are not required to have a background in law and are hired by counties and municipalities. “Justice court judges need not be attorneys, although they receive extensive and continuing legal training,” according to utcourts.gov. “All justice court judges must attend 30 hours of continuing judicial education each year to remain certified.”
Justice court judges handle Class B and C misdemeanors, infractions, traffic offenses, city and county ordinance violations and small claims. Mecham noted that for many appearing before a justice court judge, it is the first time ever dealing with the justice system. As such, the council should take their responsibility appointing a judge very seriously.
“The mission of the Morgan County Justice court should be to improve the quality of life in our community,” Mecham said. “I believe that is best done by a local resident.”
Mecham said the state approved Brooks, Brower and Olds as three qualified to take over as Morgan’s justice court judge. The Morgan County Council had the final choice. Turner did not vote.