Candidate Profile
John Pearce

Non-Partisan , Utah

Biography

Name
John Pearce
Party
Non-Partisan
Race
Supreme Court (retention of Pearce)
Incumbent
Yes
Links

Panel Rating

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Other Information

In 2016, Governor Gary Herbert appointed Justice John Pearce to the Utah Supreme Court, and Justice Pearce was confirmed by a unanimous vote in the Senate. On March 30, 2020, Governor Herbert signed a bill that would make abortion illegal in Utah if the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Judge Voter Guide has not published a rating for this candidate, but recommends a "yes" vote.

On December 9, 2019, the Utah Supreme Court announced that it would allow DACA recipients to join the Utah bar. No justices dissented.

Justice Pearce joined a unanimous Utah Supreme Court in In Re Gestational Agreement (2019): “As required by Obergefell and Pavan, we hold that section 78B-15-803(2)(b) [which prevented same-sex couples from signing a valid gestational agreement] is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses.” Justice Pearce and Justice Lee wrote separate concurring opinions that highlighted legal questions that the case raised about the separation of powers.

Justice Pearce joined a unanimous Court in State of Utah v. Lopez (2020): “Lopez and Nielsen [two men accused of child abuse] sought to compel their alleged victims to testify by way of subpoena…We hold that any power a defendant has to subpoena witnesses at a preliminary hearing—whether under the rules of criminal procedure or the constitution—must be understood in light of the prerogative of the court to ‘quash or modify [a] subpoena if compliance would be unreasonable’ we reverse the Lopez court’s refusal to quash L.L.’s subpoena and affirm the Nielsen court’s decision to quash A.N.’s subpoena [this means that the alleged victims did not have to personally appear in the court for the preliminary hearings]…a subpoena compelling alleged victims to testify is per se ‘unreasonable’ when it seeks testimony that is immaterial to the probable-cause determination, would obviate the legal sufficiency of hearsay evidence, and would unnecessarily intrude on the rights of victims.”

Justice Pearce joined a unanimous Court in Mitchell v. Roberts (2020): “Terry Mitchell asserts civil claims against Richard Warren Roberts. The claims arise out of allegations that Roberts sexually abused Mitchell in 1981 when she was sixteen years old… Mitchell concedes that each of her claims against Roberts had expired under the original statute of limitations [iVoterGuide note: this basically means that the law prohibited Mitchell from suing Roberts because she took so much time to do it]. But she contends that her claims were revived when the legislature enacted Utah Code section 78B-2-308(7) in 2016… We hold that the Utah Legislature is constitutionally prohibited from retroactively reviving a time-barred claim in a manner depriving a defendant of a vested statute of limitations defense. This principle is well-rooted in our precedent, a point meriting respect as a matter of stare decisis. It is also confirmed by the extensive historical material presented to us by the parties in their supplemental briefs.”

Justice Pearce wrote the Court’s unanimous opinion in In re Inquiry of a Judge: The Honorable Judge Michael Kwan(2019): “Judge Michael Kwan acknowledges that he violated the Utah Code of Judicial Conduct when he made seemingly shirty and politically charged comments to a defendant in his courtroom.…Judge Kwan conceded that an online post critical of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump also violated the code of conduct. But Judge Kwan argues that the six-month suspension the Judicial Conduct Commission (JCC) recommends is inappropriate. Judge Kwan raises important First Amendment questions, but he fails to address our case law holding that a judicial disciplinary proceeding is an improper venue to press those constitutional claims. Bound by our precedent, we therefore do not address the constitutional questions, and we limit our consideration to that portion of Judge Kwan’s online speech that he concedes we can permissibly sanction…a six-month suspension without pay is the appropriate sanction.”

Justice Pearce wrote the Court’s unanimous opinion in In the interest of K.T., C.T., Ka.T., and Ca.T. (2017): “The parents contend that this [spanking their children with a belt] was an insufficient factual basis to permit the juvenile court to conclude that they had harmed the children within the meaning of the Utah Code. We agree that the juvenile court needed additional evidence before it could conclude by clear and convincing evidence that the children had been harmed."

Justice Pearce joined a unanimous Court in Butt v. State (2017): “Petitioner challenges his conviction for dealing materials harmful to minors, alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The basis for this claim is trial counsel’s failure to assert certain defenses under the state and federal constitutions—a free speech defense and a 'parent-child communication' defense...The viability of Petitioner’s free speech defense turns on the question whether the drawing qualifies as ‘obscenity.’ If it does then it falls outside the protection of the First Amendment…he asks us to conclude that his drawing was, as a factual matter, not overtly sexual or sexually suggestive. We find this a close call but ultimately agree…We…vacate Petitioner’s conviction for dealing in harmful materials to minors.”

Questionnaire

Please note: Responses are entered electronically by the candidate and are listed verbatim.

Religious Liberty

Religious liberty is at risk in the United States and deserves the highest level of protection in the law.

(Did not answer)

The Ten Commandments should not be displayed in public school buildings or court houses.

(Did not answer)

What does "separation of church and state" mean to you?

(Did not answer)


Values

Judeo-Christian values established a framework of morality which is necessary for our system of limited government.

(Did not answer)

George Washington's comment that “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society” is still true today.

(Did not answer)

Briefly describe your spiritual beliefs and values.

(Did not answer)

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Bostock v. Clayton County, which justice’s opinion most closely aligns with your opinion of whether the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be extended to the LGBTQ community?

(Did not answer)

What types of pro bono work have you done?

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Qualifications

I voted in these primaries and general elections:

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When you consider your views on a wide range of issues from economic and social matters to foreign policy and immigration, which of the following best describes you overall?

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Please provide publicly available information validating your answer to the previous question.

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What education or experience qualifies you to hold the office for which you seek election?

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In what areas of law have you practiced?

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Have you ever been convicted of a felony or been penalized for sexual misconduct? If so, please explain.

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Why should the voters choose you?

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Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

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Judicial Philosophy

The U.S. Constitution and my state constitution should be interpreted as living documents, rather than using a strict constructionist or originalist approach in judicial decisions.

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There are times when American judges should alter U.S. case law in order to comply with foreign case law.

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Which current U.S. Supreme Court justice best reflects your judicial philosophy?

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What is the proper use of legislative history in interpreting statutory law?

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What possibilities should a judge exhaust before departing from precedent?

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How should a judge determine which rights are protected by the Constitution even though they are not specifically mentioned?

(Did not answer)


Background

Education
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Work & Military
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Affiliations
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Offices
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