Judicial Profile — Judge Andrew Stone

Judge Andrew Stone was born in Pennsylvania, lived in California, and then moved to Utah when he was a teenager.  He graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in biology.  Having no interest in medicine and not wanting to leave Utah to pursue an academic career, he decided to take a year off and then go to law school.  He loved it and knew almost immediately that he wanted to be a trial lawyer. 

After graduation, he clerked for the Honorable Bruce S. Jenkins and then moved to Washington D.C. to join the prestigious Department of Justice Attorney General’s Honors Program, where he gained invaluable experience litigating cases involving important public policy issues or large amounts of money.  The topics ranged from rural electrification cooperatives to wheat storage to body bags.  He relished the opportunity of delving deeply into the cases and issues without the extraordinary caseload of an Assistant U.S. Attorney. 

After fulfilling his two-year commitment to the Honors Program, he accepted an offer from Jones Waldo and returned to Salt Lake City, where his practice focused on antitrust and business litigation for over 20 years.  He was repeatedly recognized for his expertise and advocacy skills, being named to Best Lawyers of America.  He also served on the firm’s board of directors and executive committee. 

With the encouragement of Judge Deno Himonas and others, he decided to apply for a judgeship.  Having recently gone through the judicial nomination process, I asked Judge Stone what advice he would give lawyers who are considering applying?  He emphasized that you need to be patient and recognize that you will receive little feedback during the process; that the process may be very disruptive to your practice; and that it will take a lot of time.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely Judge Stone says.

Indeed, although Judge Stone sometimes misses the social aspect of private practice and being the designated hitter instead of the umpire, he has found the work of a trial judge incredibly rewarding.  He is surprised by how much of his job involves pro se litigants and parties from all walks of life, most of whom who are interacting with the judicial system for the very first time.  Unrepresented parties are often intimidated, and Judge Stone believes it is very important to make them feel like they are getting a fair shake. 

What makes his job as a trial judge easier?  Lawyers who are well prepared. Lawyers who approach oral argument as an opportunity to have a dialogue with the court about the problematic issues in the case.  Lawyers who understand relevance and the importance of focusing on their most persuasive arguments.  Also, although it should go without saying, Judge Stone says to be prepared and be civil.  During oral argument, Judge Stone likes to ask questions.  If he feels one party has a strong position, he may start out by asking the other party why he shouldn’t rule against it.  He keeps an open mind and says that his initial leaning on an issue is often changed by oral argument.

Some practical advice?  He reminds lawyers that the Third District Court has gone electronic and that he reads the pleadings on his iPad.  Consequently, there is no need to provide him with courtesy copies prior to a hearing.  In his “dream” world, lawyers would provide him with a PDF of all briefs on the motion, with a hyperlink to embedded cases. 

The new rules of discovery?  Judge Stone encourages lawyers to become familiar with the Third Judicial District Court rules and suggests that they call his clerk and request a discovery conference if there are issues that arise during the case.  When appropriate, a telephonic conference will allow him to make a tentative ruling on the issue without imposing the burden and expense of motion briefing on the parties.  He believes that other judges may be open to such conferences and lawyers should explore this with their clerks prior to filing a motion.    

His judicial role models?  Judge Jenkins, Judge Iwasaki and Judge Hilder.

Judge Stone is married and has two daughters.  His wife is a human resources consultant and owner of Evolutionary HR.  His oldest daughter is in the IB program at West High School and is an avid climber and telemark skier.  His youngest is at Bryant Middle School and is a tremendous baker.  To keep up with them, he spends his free time cycling and skiing.

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