The future of the 3rd District Court nominee – Su J. Chon – is yet unclear.
If Herbert doesn’t ask the Senate to postpone the confirmation vote, scheduled for Wednesday during the Legislature’s regular interim day meeting, the whole Senate may then vote on Chon, a 1994 graduate from the BYU Law School and current state bar commissioner – a rather high post in her profession.
Chon is currently an attorney for the State Office of Property Rights Ombudsman, an entity that helps citizens when they have property rights questions or concerns, often concerning local government/school district condemnation of their property.
Herbert’s office didn’t have an immediate comment for UtahPolicy on Chon’s situation.
The main complaint against Chon appeared to be her relative inexperience, especially compared to the other appointee on the agenda Monday, James T. Blanch.
This was the first time that Chon has come through the judicial nomination process, Senate aides said, and that also may have worked against her.
This is the fourth time Blanch has submitted his name, and gone through the process of being recommended by a judicial nominating commission, before the governor officially nominated him.
Besides flat judicial/attorney qualifications and experience, on the more political side Chon was a double-publicity win for Herbert, who has been criticized in the past for not nominating enough women and minorities to the bench.
Chon is, of course, both a woman and as an Asian-American, a minority.
Herbert is up for election this year and faces Democratic gubernatorial nominee retired Army Gen. Peter Cooke.
The last time the Utah Senate actually voted down a gubernatorial appointee was 2008, when a University of Utah general counsel was rejected by the whole Senate.
In that case, the attorney had worked with a former U. administration in a battle over gun carry rights on the university campus, and in that role rankled some GOP senators.
Voting Monday for Chon were Sens. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, and Karen Mayne, D-West Valley, the only woman and Democrat on the Judicial Confirmation Committee.
Voting against recommending her to the whole Senate were Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville; Senate Majority Leader Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City; Dan Thatcher, R-West Valley; and Mark Madsen, R-Lehi.
Since the 2008 Senate rejection there have been several judicial nominees who asked that their names be withdrawn from consideration before the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee actually met and voted on them, mainly because of back-channel concerns by some GOP senators about the individuals.
Those nominations didn’t get to a floor fight/Senate confirmation vote.
Senate sources said that some talks between staffers in the Senate and governor’s office did take place over Chon’s relatively inexperience. But since Herbert took no action on her nomination, her hearing before the committee went forward Monday.
Senate sources said that opposition to Chon was nothing personal.
In fact, several of the GOP “no” voters told Chon that they hoped she would apply again to be a judge and that in the future, after she had more experience, they would be glad to support her nomination.
It is unclear where the Chon nomination now goes.
Herbert could ask the Senate to vote her up or down on Wednesday.
Herbert and GOP Senate leaders could decide to postpone her floor vote until next month’s interim meetings, or even later.
Chon could ask that her name be withdrawn from consideration.
“It’s really up to the governor now,” said one Senate source. “Will he try to lobby for her (confirmation) or not?”
You can read Chon’s biography and see a picture of her here, on her bar commissioner site. Among her other accomplishments, she was chosen as the 2005 pro bono Utah lawyer of the year.