SALT LAKE CITY - Governor Gary R. Herbert has appointed Thomas R. Lee as the state's next Supreme Court justice.
At a Friday morning news conference at the Utah Capitol, the Governor introduced Mr. Lee as a highly respected appellate attorney with "extraordinary intellectual capacity."
"Tom Lee is a unique legal talent whose intellect and work ethic will serve the Utah Supreme Court well," Governor Herbert said. "He is also an extremely gifted writer. I have no doubt that the opinions he crafts for the Utah Supreme Court will be models of careful analysis and crisp legal reasoning."
Mr. Lee currently serves as the Rex and Maureen Rawlinson professor of law at the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University and Of Counsel to the law firm of Howard, Phillips, & Andersen.
"Perhaps what is most remarkable about Tom is his humility and temperament," the Governor said. "Despite his long list of achievements, when we talked to his colleagues and his students, they uniformly told a story of a very bright person who is willing to listen to others and who is consistently even-handed and fair in his decision making."
Over the course of his career, Mr. Lee has built a reputation as one of the state's, and the nation's, top appellate advocates. He has represented the State of Utah in several cases, including the state's challenge to the results of the 2000 U.S. Census.
"The state has repeatedly turned to Tom for assistance in cases of prime importance to the people of Utah," Governor Herbert said. "He argued on behalf of Utah before the United States Supreme Court in the Census case, and also represented us in front of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the state's bid to prevent the storage of spent nuclear fuel inside the state."
In addition to his experience arguing before appellate courts, Mr. Lee is familiar with the intricacies of appellate decision making. He has served as a law clerk for Fourth District Circuit Court of Appeals Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
In a letter of recommendation on Mr. Lee's behalf, Justice Thomas praised Lee as an outstanding scholar and lawyer of great character, writing that Lee's "career and his life bespeak so much that is good about our country and our legal system."
Mr. Lee is also a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and has been in part-time private practice with the law firm Howard, Phillips, & Andersen since 1999, with an emphasis on trademark, copyright and trade secret litigation.
Mr. Lee graduated from the University of Chicago Law School with high honors, serving on the managing editorial board of the University of Chicago Law Review. He also holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Brigham Young University, where he was both a trustee's scholar and an Edwin S. Hinckley scholar.
Governor Herbert's appointment of Tom Lee to the five-member Utah Supreme Court marks his ninth judicial appointment since becoming Governor last August. His previous appointments are:
. Edwin T. Peterson, Eighth Judicial District
. J. Frederic Voros Jr., Utah Court of Appeals
. Keith A. Kelly, Third Judicial District
. Stephen Roth, Utah Court of Appeals
. Thomas Low, Fourth Judicial District
. Michele Christiansen, Utah Court of Appeals
. Robert J. Dale, Second Judicial District
. M. James Brady, Fourth Judicial District
The Governor's most recent appointment is subject to confirmation by the Utah Senate.