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Critics of 3rd District Judge David S. Young began promising two years ago they'd work hard to kick him off the bench this year.

Their campaign, waged mostly through interviews with the media, came within 1,800 votes of doing just that Tuesday.Young held onto his black robe by three-quarters of one percentage point - the smallest margin of victory for any Utah judge since retention elections were put in place a decade ago.

Salt Lake County residents supported his retention by 3,540 votes. Summit County voters wanted him off the bench by a 2-to-1 margin. Tooele County ballot totals weren't available at press time.

All results are complete but unofficial.

The judge's supporters see the slim victory as evidence of a vocal minority unduly influencing voters.

"You had 40 people who made a hubbub and that was the difference," said Scott Daniels, a former judge who served with Young and led a campaign supporting his retention.

The 40 individuals Daniels referred to gathered last Sunday on the courthouse steps to protest Young's alleged bias against women.

Their concerns first became headlines in 1994 when a Park City woman appeared in Young's court for a child-custody decision. Young ordered that the mother, Alicia Larson, could not take her children to Oregon because he questioned what kind of religious environment they would be in.

Larson took the order as an attack on her gender rather than her religion, however. "I think he just cared about controlling me," she said at the time.

An attorney survey released earlier this year seemed to strengthen women's complaints against the judge.

Young received a score of less than 70 percent on one of 12 questions answered by lawyers who appeared in his courtroom: "Weighs all evidence fairly and impartially before rendering a decision."

Daniels responded that the criticism was aimed at just a very small part of Young's overall service on the bench.

A decade ago, judges who wanted to retain their seats had to run in head-to-head races. Then lawmakers, supported by voters, took the politics out of judicial office by switching to retention ballots.

Supporters argue the system protects the independence of the judiciary.

But, with Young's numbers in hand, Daniels sees a rising electoral threat to the independence of the state's judiciary.

"It will send a detrimental message to judges - that they may have to worry about angering 40 people," he said.

And Daniels wonders how news of the close race will influence experienced lawyers who may be thinking about applying for a judgeship.

"There are many good attorneys who are building practices. Now, they've got to wonder whether it's worth the risk to become a judge," he said.

Daniels offered no solution to the questions he raises.

Other states have far-worse dilemmas when it comes to supporting an independent judiciary.

Texas and Nevada, for example, run partisan, contested judicial elections. Would-be judges not only affiliate with a political party but also have to raise money from law firms that will be in their courtrooms later.

In one recent Texas election, for example, a sitting Supreme Court judge and his opponent spent about $1 million in an acrimonious contest.



Judicial retention

Court of Appeals

1,677 of 1,677 precincts

Russell W. Bench

Yes 341,576 79% No 91,544 21%

Judith M. Billings

Yes 347,918 80% No 86,231 20%

James Z. Davis

Yes 336,665 78% No 93,043 22%

Pamela T. Greenwood

Yes 351,479 81% No 84,139 19%

Norman H. Jackson

Yes 344,282 79% No 90,932 21%

Gregory K. Orme

Yes 337,873 79% No 92,301 21%

1st Judicial District

Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties

101 of 101 precincts

Ben H. Hadfield

Yes 27,835 86% No 4,421 14%

Gordon J. Low

Yes 26,042 80% No 6,693 20%

2nd Judicial District

Davis, Weber and Morgan counties

360 of 360 precincts

Parley R. Baldwin

Yes 81,546 80% No 20,128 20%

Michael J. Glasmann

Yes 81,788 79% No 21,199 21%

Michael D. Lyon

Yes 81,392 80% No 20,513 20%

Jon M. Memmott

Yes 82,093 80% No 20,354 20%

3rd Judicial District

Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties

708 of 708 precincts

Pat B. Brian

Yes 177,806 77% No 52,146 23%

William B. Bohling

Yes 178,472 78% No 51,786 22%

Michael K. Burton

Yes 179,700 79% No 47,938 21%

Dennis M. Fuchs

Yes 172,171 77% No 52,702 23%

Michael L. Hutchings

Yes 176,055 78% No 49,514 22%

Glenn K. Iwasaki

Yes 176,902 78% No 50,198 22%

Tyrone E. Medley

Yes 176,885 78% No 49,344 22%

Frank G. Noel

Yes 175,689 78% No 49,896 22%

Robin W. Reese

Yes 178,973 79% No 47,340 21%

Homer F. Wilkinson

Yes 152,425 66% No 78,512 34%

David S. Young

Yes 122,018 50% No 120,215 50%

Olof A. Johansson, Juvenile Court

Yes 180,701 78% No 50,482 22%

Andrew A. Valdez, Juvenile Court

Yes 181,039 78% No 50,203 22%

4th Judicial District

Utah, Wasatch, Juab and Millard counties

205 of 205 precincts

John C. Backlund

Yes 57,406 84% No 10,925 16%

Guy R. Burningham

Yes 58,293 84% No 10,491 16%

Lynn W. Davis

Yes 59,268 85% No 10,319 15%

Steven L. Hansen

Yes 59,785 86% No 9,958 14%

Anthony W. Schofield

Yes 57,954 84% No 10,835 16%

Kay A. Lindsay, Juvenile Court

Yes 59,953 86% No 10,032 14%

5th Judicial District

Washington, Iron and Beaver counties

84 of 84 precincts

Robert T. Braithwaite

Yes 22,678 86% No 3,816 14%

J. Philip Eves

Yes 22,115 84% No 4,160 16%

6th Judicial District

Sevier, Sanpete, Garfield, Kane, Wayne and Piute counties

83 of 83 precincts

David L. Mower

Yes 10,675 76% No 3,296 24%

Louis G. Tervort, Juvenile Court

Yes 10,590 76% No 3,274 24%

7th Judicial District

Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties

60 of 60 precincts

Lyle R. Anderson

Yes 10,862 80% No 2,653 20%

Bruce K. Halliday

Yes 10,327 77% No 3,169 23%

Scott N. Johansen, Juvenile Court

Yes 11,113 82% No 2,497 18%

8th Judicial District

Uintah, Duchesne and Daggett counties

36 of 36 precincts

John R. Anderson

Yes 7,536 80% No 1,836 20%