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Utah courts create new office to combat racism, bias in judicial system



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s court system is creating a new office to tackle racism in its courtrooms and bias based on other factors like sexual orientation, gender and socioeconomic status.

The Utah Judicial Council, the administrative arm of the state courts, announced the move this week, saying it would build on existing efforts to make courts more accessible and more fair, especially for those marginalized. The announcement comes amid a national wave of opposition to racial injustice.

“Fairness is the basic premise of our system of justice. The goal is a fair process that produces a just result,” Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant said in a statement. “The goal cannot be achieved in a system tainted by racism or any other form of bias.

Durrant declined an interview about the Office of Fairness and Accountability through courts spokesman Geoffrey Fattah, who said the council will provide further updates as the initiative rolls out.

The court system is also hiring a director for the new office that will examine and address bias within the justice system, although the staffing and other details are still being hashed out.

The office will work with lawmakers and the executive branch to gather data, reach out to marginalized groups, and train and recruit courts employees, among other duties, the Judicial Council said.

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