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Lehi and American Fork to merge Justice Courts



Lehi City and American Fork City are in the final stages of merging their justice courts into one, after American Fork is set to lose its partnership with the 4th District Court. 

“We were approached by American Fork a couple of months ago about combining our justice courts,” said Lehi City Administrator Jason Walker, to begin the discussion during Lehi’s City Council meeting on Tuesday. 

“Soon the district court will be leaving American Fork, and they won‘t have anywhere to file their justice court cases. They approached Lehi, and we think we can handle those. In doing so,we think Lehi can benefit by saving a good chunk of change on what it costs to operate a justice court because American Fork would be chipping in,” said Judge Morgan Cummings who oversees Lehi’s court. 

Justice Courts are authorized by Utah’s Constitution and are established by counties and municipalities. Justice Courts have the authority to deal with class B and C misdemeanors, violations of ordinances, small claims, and infractions committed within their territorial jurisdiction.

“There are benefits to a municipality having its own justice court. If you’re in a district court, then your case is heard with a million other cases from many different cities. Where here in our justice court we can know if there is a higher crime rate at Smiths Marketplace or Cabela’s than there has been in the past and it helps our community address those problems better,” continued Cummings. 

Judge Cummings anticipates hiring four new court clerks but will start with one or two while the caseload is measured. 

“They [American Fork] tend to have more traffic cases and less serious crimes like DUI or domestic violence… we also have moved to a hybrid court since COVID and see about a 60-40% split between those joining the court remotely versus in person,” said Cummings when asked about Lehi’s capability to add the new workload. 


The 10-year agreement between the cities also stipulates the agreement will be reassessed if the need to build a larger or newer facility arises. 

“We did some analysis and looked at the dollar amount we are paying. As long as American Fork’s caseload is above 32% then we believe we benefit from the agreement. If it’s below 32% then we would be subsidizing some of their cases and that’s why we put in a minimum amount [in the] agreement for American Fork to pay,” said Lehi Assistant City Manager Cameron Boyle, who assured the Council that the agreement will not negatively impact Lehi residents. 

The Lehi City Justice Court’s 2024 annual budget is $748,247.

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