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Front Page » April 4, 2006 » Local News » Bryner highlights 7th District Court's evolving caseload
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Bryner highlights 7th District Court's evolving caseload

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Sun Advocate reporter

Judge and Mrs. Bryce Bryner visit with Price Police Capt. Kevin Drolc during a retirement open house presented by the 7th District Court. Originally appointed to the bench in January 1989, Judge Bryner handled the civil and criminal matters processed through the 7th Circuit Court for three years. In 1992, he assumed a position on the district court bench. Bryner recently retired after 17 years of service as a 7th Judicial District judge.

In January, Judge Bryce K. Bryner retired and concluded 17 years of service with Utah's 7th Judicial District.

Originally appointed to the bench in January 1989, Judge Bryner handled the civil and criminal matters processed through the 7th Circuit Court for three years. In 1992, Utah phased out the circuit level in the state's judicial system and Bryner assumed a position on the district court.

The 7th District encompasses Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties.

Discussing his experiences on the district bench during a recent interview, Judge Bryner highlighted several positive and negative factors impacting the judicial system in the Carbon and Emery County area.

The positive influences include an excellent court support staff, competent prosecution and defense attorneys, effective law enforcement agencies, responsive local governments and the quality of the people residing in the Castle Valley region.

From probation officers and court clerks to defense attorneys, criminal prosecutors and law enforcement personnel, the members of the 7th Judicial District focus on one common goal - providing justice for the residents in the Carbon-Emery area, noted the retired judge.

"As a judge, I developed a real appreciation for the U.S. Constitution," pointed out Bryner. "The Constitution provides the framework for the courts and the process for the resolution of disputes."

Reviewing the caseload and the nature of the criminal complaints filed in the district court since 1992, Judge Bryner indicated that felony level drug cases have multiplied dramatically and increased in a geometric manner in Carbon and Emery County within the last 14 years.

"Approximately 80 percent to 85 percent of all felony level criminal cases filed in the district court are drug related - a problem that adversely affects an entire generation of young people," pointed out the retired judge.

The mounting number of drug cases represents one of the primary criminal problems currently faced by the neighboring counties. And the ramifications associated with illicit drug activities extend beyond the financial burden shouldered by society and the legal aspects innate in prosecuting the complaints through the criminal justice system.

Drug trafficking and addiction not only create a major criminal concern in the community at large, but undermine the structures of families and destroy lives, continued the retired judge.

During his tenure on the district bench, Bryner presided over a wide gamut of criminal complaints and multi-million-dollar natural resources civil disputes.

But the retired judge classifies family cases as one of the most important matters handled by the local legal system. Civil cases involving contested divorces, child custody issues and financial decisions regarding how two households can survive on a single income challenge the courts and judges.

"Divorces have increased substantially in Carbon and Emery counties. Nothing affects kids more than the stability of families and parents. We are dealing with the kids who are the future of our country and cases involving families have long lasting, permanent impacts on youth," explained Bryner. "Too many times, people refuse to accept intervention or enter into counseling."

Carbon and Emery counties are not immune to violent crimes, but the retired judge noted that the local incident rate has remained relatively stable rather than following the nationwide trend and escalating.

Bryner applauded law enforcement and cooperative agencies for managing to prevent the gang element from planting roots in the Castle Valley region.

"In my opinion, Carbon and Emery counties are the best kept secret in Utah. We have relatively safe communities, responsive local government and quality people residing in the local area. We are seeing a lot of our young people leaving to get an education in professional fields and coming back to the area. There is no where else I'd rather live."

The retired judge's future plans include spending time with family members and entering into a private practice concentrating on specialized legal areas.

"I have several things I want do before I get any older," concluded Bryner. "I plan on keeping busy."

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