Justice Michael J. Wilkins
Justice Michael J. Wilkins retired from the Utah Supreme Court in 2010 after 16 years as an appellate judge. During that time he participated in thousands of appellate cases. As a justice on the state's court of last resort, he has experience with cases of all descriptions, including the full variety of civil disputes, tax challenges, water law cases, probate contests, construction matters, and complex litigation. Prior to his judicial appointment, he was engaged in private civil practice in Salt Lake City. His private practice experience included a number of cases tried to verdict and judgment. During his private practice, Justice Wilkins was primarily engaged in commercial and construction law matters, as well as considerable time spent as outside counsel to small and medium sized businesses.
Wilkins received his law degree from the S. J. Quinney School of Law at the University of Utah and was admitted to the Utah Bar in 1977. While at the law school he was on the editorial board of the Journal of Contemporary Law, chair of the Law Forum, and clerked for the Honorable F. Henri Henroid of the Utah Supreme Court. In 2001 he was awarded a Master of Laws in Judicial Process degree from the School of Law at the University of Virginia. He is admitted to practice before the Utah state and federal courts, the United States Court of Appeal for the Tenth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. In his career, he has appeared before state and federal courts in Utah, Nevada, California, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona.
While Presiding Judge of the Utah Court of Appeals, Wilkins was instrumental in the successful creation and implementation of the court's appellate mediation program. The program, modeled on the successful programs of the United States Courts of Appeal in a number of circuits, has resulted in mediated resolution of hundreds of cases that had already been tried to judgments and were awaiting appellate review. He was able to carefully study and evaluate methods and tools used by the existing appellate mediation programs in helping to design the Utah operation. In doing so, he gained valuable insight into ways to bring more satisfying resolution to litigation, lessons he has incorporated in his mediation skill set.
Justice Wilkins has been a sole and panel member arbitrator in complex construction cases, has assisted in the resolution of civil disputes, and has improved his mediation skills by study at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University, the Utah Dispute Resolution basic mediation training, and continuing mediation education with various noteworthy experts. He is a firm believer that litigation, while necessary at times, is rarely the best way to resolve differences.
Justice Wilkins has a wide variety of experiences that give depth to his understanding of disputes. For example, he presently serves as chair of the Independent Legislative Ethics Commission, a constitutionally created body tasked with review of ethics complaints against members of the Utah Legislature. He is a member of the study committee appointed jointly by Governor Herbert and Legislative leadership to study and make policy recommendations for modifications in the hotly challenged state government records access act. He is a member of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (the organization that produced the UCC, the Uniform Probate Code, the Uniform Partnership Act, and so many other Uniform acts), and chairs the National Conference's Study Committee on Prevention and Remedies for Human Trafficking. He has taught ethics, civility, and appellate practice to lawyers, and as an adjunct law professor. He has been asked to speak to groups as diverse as water engineers, prosecutors, and Boy Scouts.
Justice Wilkins lives and works in the St. George area, but maintains a home base near Salt Lake City and spends time there regularly. He is available for mediation, neutral evaluation, and arbitration.
Mediation: $300 per hour - No charge for pre-mediation preparation or follow-up.
Arbitration: $300 per hour as sole arbitrator, $250 per hour as panel member.
Neutral Evaluation: $300 per hour
Travel: Salt Lake, Davis or Washington Counties, No charge. Outside these areas, expenses only.
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