Judge Katherine Bernards-Goodman, who spent her childhood in Southern California, moved to Orem as a teenager. It was a bit of a culture shock. She attended BYU and received an associate degree in childhood education. She quickly realized, however, that teaching was not her calling. She returned to school, this time at the University of Utah, and obtained a degree in psychology. She then attended law school at the S.J. Quinney College of Law.
After graduating, she briefly worked at Christensen & Jensen and then joined the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office. After experiencing first hand her intelligence, easy manner and great sense of humor, I was not surprised to learn that Judge Robert K. Hilder, with whom she worked at C&J, was a friend, mentor, and later, judicial role model.
During her 21 years as a prosecutor, she prosecuted child abuse and neglect cases in the juvenile court system and child sex abuse cases and major offender cases in the adult court system. She prosecuted several high profile cases, including the Cathy Cobb “cold” case and the Brook Shumway case, which involved a 15-year old boy who stabbed his friend 38 times during a sleep-over. She helped the first drug courts in Utah continue and grow, which support evidence based practices in recovery, personal accountability, alternatives to incarceration, and public safety. She spent seven years working with the State Drug Court Working Group.
In June 2010, Governor Herbert appointed her to the Third Judicial District Court. While she has been presiding over a criminal calendar, she recently assumed Judge Faust’s calendar, which is comprised of approximately 20% civil cases.
Judge Bernards-Goodman was one of the first judges assigned to handle cases in the new Early Case Resolution Program, which identifies cases that can be easily resolved such as property, drug and public nuisance cases. She is confident that the Program will save scarce judicial resources for cases involving more serious crimes.
While she clearly loves being a judge, there are certain things she misses about being a prosecutor. What does she miss the most? Believe it or not, the phone calls in the middle of the night summoning her to a crime scene to work with police officers. She also misses controlling the case, including the presentation of the evidence.
Having recently made the transition from prosecutor to judge, I asked her what advice she had for lawyers, especially new lawyers? Be prepared and be civil. She will not hesitate to take a lawyer aside if he/she is being uncivil or using inappropriate language in briefs or at oral argument. In the courtroom, she tries to emulate Judge Atherton and Judge Trease. For civil matters and because pleadings are filed electronically, she appreciates courtesy copies with determinative cases attached.
She has three children: two sons and one daughter. In her very limited free time, she enjoys working out, shopping, and spending time with her 5-year old granddaughter.