Garland City has decided to keep operating its own justice court, at least for now.
The Garland and Tremonton police departments merged earlier this year and have been operating under the supervision of Tremonton Police Chief Kurt Fertig. After both sides found that move to be mutually beneficial, the cities recently started discussing the possibility of folding Garland’s justice court into Tremonton’s as well.
The issue became time sensitive because both cities’ courts were up for recertification this year, a process that individual courts must go through every four years.
Tremonton recertified its court in October, and the Garland City Council voted to do the same for the Garland court at the council’s most recent meeting on Nov. 13.
Garland had been considering dissolving its court and merging into the Tremonton operation, but reconsidered on the advice of state court officials.
Jim Peters, justice court administrator for Utah State Courts, visited the Garland council on Nov. 13 and recommended the city recertify its court “so you’re not forced to make a decision between now and January 31, and you have another four years to figure things out with regard to efficiencies you want to achieve, the service you want to provide residents, and any other concerns that may be before you.”
Garland could still work out a deal with Tremonton if it so desires, Peters said, and wouldn’t have to wait another four years. On the other hand, he said that if Garland chose to dissolve its court and for some reason an interlocal agreement with Tremonton didn’t work out, all of Garland’s court cases would default to the Box Elder County court in Brigham City, forcing Garland defendants and officers involved in those cases to travel to the county seat for their proceedings.
“It would be inconvenient to say the least,” Peters said, adding that using the county court system works for Brigham City because it’s the county seat, but most other cities operate their own courts, even in nearby Mantua.
When asked to respond to a question from Garland Mayor Todd Miller about the pros and cons of dissolving the court and defaulting to the county, Peters said “I can think of a lot more cons than pros.
“If you dissolve the court, I can almost guarantee you’ll never get it back,” he said.
Peters said state law was recently clarified to state that if an interlocal agreement between two jurisdictions expires, both parties revert to the systems they had before, so as long as Garland stays certified, “you would get your court back.”
However, recertifying would not prevent the cities from combining their courts under Tremonton’s roof if they decided to go that route. And if a combination didn’t work out, Peters said it would only take a couple of months to get the city’s own court up and running again, as long as it was certified before the agreement was made.
“So there’s no downside” to recertifying, Miller said.