The sources of Utah state law mirror that of the federal government. The state legislature drafts and passes laws, the judiciary interprets laws, and the executive branch (in the form of regulatory agencies) enforces laws. Although each branch has different legal responsibilities they each contribute to the body of Utah law.
Legislature - statutes
Judiciary - case law
Executive - rules & regulations
Laws that have been passed by the Utah State Legislature are compiled in the Utah Code. The code is made up of individual laws (statutes) which are organized by topic. It is a good idea to look at an annotated version of the code when doing statutory research because the annotations give you information beyond the text of the statute. They often include legislative history information, references to case law and secondary sources to help you understand the statute and cross references to related regulations.
The official version of the Utah Code is available online. However, you will need to visit the library to view an annotated version.
The Utah Judicial Branch produces two main sources of law, appellate court decisions and court rules. The state of Utah has two appellate courts:
The purpose of appellate courts is to review the decisions of trial courts and rule on whether those courts applied the law correctly or used correct procedure. These appellate opinions are available online through the Utah Courts website or a number of other free digital resources and in print at our library.
Trial court decisions do not have precedential value and are often hard to find. You can access some district court cases by using public terminals located at most district court locations.
Court rules govern how the court operates. These will be very important to you as you set out to represent yourself. Court rules will tell you about court procedures and how to conduct yourself when working with the court. These rules will tell you how to format all of your court documents, how to serve your documents on other parties, how to perform discovery, make motions, appeal decisions, and any time limitations that may apply to the process. Be aware: State and Federal courts do not follow the same rules. Rules may also vary depending on the type of case.
The Utah Courts Website provides access to the state court rules listed below:
*** Remember: The rules are your friends. They will help you navigate the courts more smoothly.
Utah Agency/ Administrative Materials
Regulations are rules that are made by executive agencies which have been tasked with carrying out specific pieces of legislation. Examples of regulatory agencies in Utah include the Labor Commission, the Department of Education, or the Department of Commerce. A list of all state agencies and a link to their websites is available at https://www.utah.gov/government/agencylist.html.
Regulatory Materials Online
Additional research resources from the legislative branch include:
Many of these resources are available online through the Utah Legislature's website.
Address: 450 S. State Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Phone: (801) 238-7300
Utah Courts Xchange is the docket system for the Utah courts. A docket contains a list of all actions that have occurred in a case. Many of the occurrences are supplemented by PDFs of the actual court filings. The public may access Courts Xchange while in the library by asking a reference librarian to log them into the database.
*** Passwords cannot be given out over the phone.
A brief is a written legal argument submitted to the court that states a party's legal reasons for bringing a suit. A brief may outline arguments for various petitions and motions, counter an argument or brief submitted by opposing parties, and give the judge reasons to rule in your favor.
The library, in partnership with BYU, maintains a digital collection of Utah Court Briefs. This resource is only accessible while in the library. The library also has a large collection of briefs in print.
The State Archives assist Utah government agencies to manage and preserve records of value and provide public access to these documents.
Address: 346 S. Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Phone: (801) 531-3848
Hours: 8am-5pm M-F