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Memorandum

To:

Utah State Senators

From:

John L. Fellows, General Counsel

Date:

January 18, 2013

Re:

Utah Impeachment Process

Impeachment: Utah Process


Michael E. Christensen
Director
John L. Fellows
General Counsel

I. Introduction:
This memo provides information about the impeachment process in
Utah. Although this memo provides a summary of the process, OLRGC
has done more in-depth legal and policy research on impeachment and
the impeachment process. Legislators with questions or seeking more
detail may contact me.
Utah's constitution, statutes, and legislative rules provide general
guidelines and requirements for the impeachment process. They also
grant virtually absolute discretion to the House and Senate to establish
the detailed procedures for a particular impeachment. (If the House or
Senate must adopt detailed procedures because an impeachment
resolution is filed, OLRGC staff can assist the House and Senate in
developing those procedures by providing the House and Senate with
examples of processes used in Congress and other states.)

II. Sources for information about impeachment in Utah:


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Utah Constitution Article VI, Sections 17-20

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Utah Code Sections 77-5-1 through 77-5-12

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House Rule 1-6-101

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Senate Rule 1-6-101

III. Concepts
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Utah State Capitol Complex
House Building, Suite W210
PO Box 145210
Salt Lake City, Utah
84114-5210
Phone (801) 538-1032
Fax (801) 538-1712
www.le.utah.gov

A Utah state or judicial officer is "impeached" if the


House of Representatives adopts one or more articles
of impeachment by a 2/3 vote.

Utah Impeachment Process


January 18, 2013
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A Utah state or judicial officer is removed from office only if the Senate
convicts the officer in a trial in the Senate after the House has
impeached the officer.

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For example, former President Bill Clinton was "impeached" because


the U.S. House adopted Articles of Impeachment, but he was not
removed from office because the U.S. Senate did not "convict" him.

IV. Summary of Impeachment Process in Utah:


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Resolution Initiates Impeachment --A member of the House files a


resolution calling for the impeachment of a state or judicial officer (Utah
Code 77-5-3) (See Appendix A for example of an impeachment
resolution for Judge Harding in 2003)

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House Establishes Rules of Process -- If resolution passes, House


adopts, by constitutional majority vote, policies establishing procedures
for, and governing the conduct of, the impeachment process (House
Rule 1-6-101) (See Appendix B for an example of the policies adopted
by the House for the Judge Harding impeachment in 2003)

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Constitutional Standard for Impeachment -- "The Governor and


other State and Judicial officers shall be liable to impeachment for high
crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office; . . . ." Utah
Constitution Article VI, Section 19. (Because impeachment is
constitutionally vested in the legislative branch, courts have generally
declined to interfere in the process, including declining to second guess
the legislative branch on the meaning and scope of the terms "high
crimes, misdemeanors, or malfeasance in office.")

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House Committee Action -- Because the policies usually require


referral of the impeachment to a House committee, the committee
meets, subpoenas and examines witnesses, documents, and other
relevant material, and, if the evidence warrants, draws up Articles of
Impeachment and recommends that the entire House adopt them.
(Articles of Impeachment are similar to an information or indictment -they lay out, article by article, the specific charges against the person
being impeached.)

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House Floor Action -- The House votes on each article separately. If


one or more articles receive a 2/3 vote in favor, the officer or judge is
impeached and the House submits the Articles of Impeachment to the

Utah Impeachment Process


January 18, 2013
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Senate for trial.
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Impeached Officer Suspended If Impeached -- When the House


submits Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, the Senate must serve
a copy of the articles on the impeached state officer or judge. Once
served, the impeached officer is temporarily suspended from his office
and may not exercise the duties of the office until/unless the officer is
acquitted by the Senate. The governor temporarily appoints a person to
fill the office, with confirmation by the Senate, unless the officer is
convicted. (Utah Code 77-5-6)

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Senate Establishes Rules of Process -- Senate adopts, by majority


vote, policies establishing procedures for, and governing the conduct
of, the trial process. (Senate Rule 1-6-101)

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Senate Trial -- At the trial, each senator must swear an oath to do


justice according to the law and evidence. Two-thirds of the senate
must be present in order for the trial to proceed. To convict, a
constitutional 2/3 of the senators (20 Senators) must vote that one or
more articles of impeachment has been proved. (Utah Code 77-5-7,
77-5-8)

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Impeachment Not a Bar To Prosecution -- The state officer or judge


can still be prosecuted criminally whether the officer is convicted or
acquitted. (Utah Constitution Article VI, Section 19; Utah Code 77-511)