On Thursday, July 6, 2023, the Supreme Court of the State of Utah approved the implementation of the Judicial Conduct Commission’s order of public reprimand against Hon. Brook Sessions, a justice court judge serving Wasatch County and Lindon City Justice Courts, for his misconduct involving driving under the influence, and inattentive driving.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Brook Sessions,” with case no. 20221095-SC.

The charges cited Code of Judicial Conduct 1.1 and 1.2 which states:

A judge shall comply with the law.

A judge shall not undermine public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

The conduct of Judge Sessions was reported to the commission by Idaho State Police on March 11, 2022. The report consisted of three aspects: First, a charge for Driving Under the Influence in Idaho on February 26, 2022, by Idaho State Police Sergeant A. Nakashima who issued the citation and made the arrest. Second, a guilty verdict for reckless driving after a confession. Third, an inquiry into the events prior to the arrest. Judge Sessions had been consuming beer at Park City during his lunchtime ski trip and then drove himself home before he was apprehended around February 26, 2022.

The Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law states:

“During the early afternoon of that same day, Judge Sessions worked in his garage and had more to drink. These drinks were a mixture of Rum and Diet Coke. Although Judge Sessions could not recall exact quantities or amounts, he had more than one of these self-made mixed drinks. He then drove to McCammon, Idaho, just west of Lava Hot Springs to visit a property that he was considering purchasing and meet with a realtor. While in McCammon, Judge Sessions had more to drink. He purchased a six-pack of beer and finished drinking it in the parking lot of the gas station where he purchased it.”

The Findings of Fact and Conclusions of the Law continue:

“Sergeant Nakashima described Judge Sessions’ pre-arrest driving behavior as erratic (swerving between the two lanes of travel) with other cars stacked behind (not wanting to pass). Sergeant Nakashima smelled alcohol emanating from the back window which was down. Sergeant Nakashima described Judge Sessions as stumbling out of the car and walking slowly. Sergeant Nakashima conducted the “eye test” and the “walk & turn” test and based on the results of those tests, he arrested Judge Sessions. Sergeant Nakashima conducted “two breath tests” at the scene, and at the station that showed the presence of alcohol over the legal limit in Idaho. Sergeant Nakashima recorded the results of the alcohol testing as .22 and .21″

The Findings of Fact and Conclusions of the Law further states:

“Sergeant Nakashima described Judge Sessions’ behavior as drunk, but professional, both at the arresting location and later at the office. Sergeant Nakashima made the sole decision to release Judge Sessions as a “professional courtesy” after issuing the citation. Sergeant Nakashima confirmed that Judge Sessions did not bring up judicial status at the time of the arrest or at the Sheriff’s office. Judge Sessions did not request any professional courtesy or accommodation based on his judicial status. The citation was resolved through plea negotiations resulting in a plea to Inattentive Driving.”

Considering the testimony presented during the Hearing, the contents of the stipulation, additional evidence considered, arguments presented, and factual conclusions drawn by the commission, it was determined that Judge Sessions’ actions had violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. This stemmed from the fact that Judge Sessions’ improper conduct during the proceedings had undermined public trust in the judiciary, creating a perception of impropriety in the minds of reasonable observers. Consequently, according to the court, Judge Sessions’ conduct had been deemed detrimental to the proper functioning of the justice system, casting a shadow on the reputation of the judicial office.

The Order states:

“Pursuant to the authority vested in the Supreme Court by Article VIII, Section 13 of the Utah Constitution and Utah Code Section 78A-11-111, the Court approves the implementation of the Judicial Conduction Commission’s Order of Public Reprimand. Associate Chief Justice John A. Pearce dissents from the Court’s decision because he concludes that a public reprimand is an inappropriate sanction for the judge’s conduct. Justice Pearce would have imposed a thirty-day suspension without pay. The Court orders that the complaints, papers, testimony, and record Of the Commission’s hearing are no longer confidential under Utah Code Section 78A-11-112. Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant recused himself from the matter.”

Judge Sessions graduated from the University of Oregon, graduating in 1991. Judge Sessions was appointed to the Wasatch County and Lindon City Justice Courts in 2015. His info can be found on wasatch.utah.gov.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.