State Court Administrator William C. Vickrey will resign his post at the end of April to accept an identical position in California, he announced Friday.
California officials asked Vickrey in January to manage California's state court system - which is more than 10 times larger than Utah's - after observing Vickrey's successes with Utah courts.Shortly after taking the administrator post in 1983, Vickrey began streamlining the disjointed courts in the state. He created a state district court system comprised of eight districts.
Vickrey then introduced computers to the state courts. Recently, he launched the five-year consolidation of the state's circuit and district courts.
Vickrey created performance evaluations for state judges and spearheaded the creation of the Court of Appeals to pare Utah's backlog of appeal cases.
A favorite with lawmakers, Vickrey has wooed funding for programs, salaries and buildings while other areas of state government went begging.
Vickrey persuaded the 1992 Legislature to authorize a 9.5 percent pay raise for state judges and pay for the construction of a controversial court complex downtown.
Vickrey decided to take the California job because "at this point in my life, I felt if I was going to make a change and try other things, I needed to be doing it now or I would likely not be doing it at all," he said.
Vickrey finds the massive California system - now in the grips of a fiscal crisis - challenging.
The challenges piqued his interest, he said. "I've been here seven years now. It's time to look at doing other things."
When Vickrey thinks of "other things," he thinks big. The California system, based in San Francisco, has 1,700 state judges compared to Utah's 91, Vickrey said.
Vickrey's 1985 court appointment capped a rapid rise through the state corrections system. His 13 years in corrections work culminated with his 1983 appointment as director of the then-Division of Corrections.
Vickrey dropped out of law school in the early 1970s to support his fledgling family, taking a job as a state probation officer.
He hopscotched from one management post to another. Then-Gov. Scott Matheson asked Vickrey to head the division of corrections after Vickrey investigated a 1982 shooting spree by an escaped convict that left a Sandy woman paralyzed.
Vickrey's report - prepared at Matheson's request - criticized the way the division was managed.
When Matheson got the report, he promptly fired then-division director William V. Milliken and offered the job to Vickrey.
During Vickrey's two-year tenure, he persuaded lawmakers to elevate the corrections division to department status, tightened prison security and launched a prison construction program.