Officials have chosen a new city judge to replace Richard Worthen, who was found guilty of willful misconduct in office by the state Judicial Conduct Commission.
Longtime Lehi resident Lars Jenkins, 74, was sworn in as the city's lone Justice Court judge at a City Council meeting Tuesday. Jenkins taught math, physics and chemistry at Lehi High School and retired from the Alpine School District in 1986.So far, he's taking his new duties of hearing city court cases involving up to class B misdemeanors in stride.
"I'm too old to get excited," he said. "And I don't have any axes to grind against anyone in Lehi."
Worthen, the city's justice for 15 years, attracted statewide attention in the legal community in connection with an April 3 hearing before the Utah Supreme Court. The court heard a series of allegations and recommendations brought by the Judicial Conduct Commission concerning the actions of Worthen and former Riverton justice Gaylen Buckley.
Allegations against Worthen included charges of failing to report seven driving-under-the-influence convictions in his court to the Utah Driver's License Division. The commission recommended that Wor-then be publicly censured or receive a 90-day suspension. The state Supreme Court took the case under advisement and is expected to accept or reject the recommendations sometime in the next couple of months.
Attorneys for both the commission and Worthen called the case an important one because there are no precedent cases in Utah regarding the discipline of city judges.
Despite the investigation by the Judicial Conduct Commission, Wor-then was asked by the city to continue as temporary judge until a replacement could be found. Ironically, Worthen's replacement is also his former high school teacher.
"He was a good kid," Jenkins said of his predecessor. "He has also been a good judge."
Jenkins said he will begin holding court during the daytime for four hours twice a week. The city previously held court sessions only in the evenings.
Jenkins' term as judge will expire in February of 2000, and state law prohibits him from being appointed again since he will be more than 75 years old.