Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Why is Doug Butts auditing Judge Rodney S. Page?


Doug Butts (above photo) is a Davis County resident who lives in Bountiful and just happens to be in my ward. During the 2006 election cycle Doug took out an ad in the Davis County Clipper asking voters to vote Second District Court Judge Rodney S. Page off the bench because Doug felt that Judge Page legislates from the bench.

Since then Doug has spent countless hours compiling a convincing report that details what he believes are the inconsistent rulings of Judge Page. Specifically, Doug alleges that Judge Page fails to consistently and correctly apply Utah Statute 78-45-7.15(3) when determining shared medical costs for children divorce or custody orders. In the video below Doug shows four cases where Judge Page orders different percentiles to parties which Doug believes is contrary to Utah Statute that states parties 'shall' share the costs of medical expenses 'equally'.

In the next following days Doug will be delivering a six inch report including graphs, case history and a support analysis to the Judicial Review Committee for further consideration.

In a much earlier post I asked if we should audit judges. Jesse Harris said, "No, our system works fine." Oldenberg said, "No. Our system works. When you are too crazy, incompetent, or corrupt, you get tossed by the voters when you are up for retention." Unfortunately for Doug his experience with the system cost him an an additional $40,000.00 to have Judge Page's improper ruling appealed, and I might ask why we should wait for a video of a judge screaming at the top of their lungs before there is any type of audit or evaluation that would help keep honest judges honest. It is generally pretty rare that we see a judge getting tossed, and maybe that isn't always the solution. How does any human improve if we are not evaluated or held accountable, and why should action only be taken once a judge has become, "too crazy, incompetent, or corrupt?"

Over the next couple of days I will be posting some of Doug's findings. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this video and on this topic.

23 comments:

Jeremy said...

I don't think there is any public entity that couldn't use a good audit. We give our judges so much power that it is stupid not to ensure there is some sort of unbiased oversight.

Thanks Rob and Mr. Butts!

Oldenburg said...

I haven't watched the video, but let's assume that what Mr. Butts say is right and that this judge is improperly applying the statute.

APPEAL! A trial judge's interpretation of a statute is entitled to NO deference from appellate courts.

A judge that makes a mistake, and who is overturned on appeal, usually does his or her homework afterwards and learns why s/he messed up. If the judge keeps getting reversed on this or if there are non-law based complaints (i.e., he favors men over women in divorce cases) then one can bring up the complain with the judicial council, which can utilize a range of punishments short of perminantly removing a judge from the bench.

I think perminant removal is an extreme measure and thus should be difficult to achieve. So again, I think the system is good as is.

Anonymous said...

Oldenburg,

That is about one of the dumbest comments I have ever heard. You are willing to post a comment, without watching the video like I did. Your solution is to appeal as if the judge accidentally made a mistake. I did some research. This law has been on the books since 1995 everyone knows what the medical statute states. It is very simple. Judge page made no mistakes he knew exactly what he was doing; Mr. Butts says his audit shows Page ruled correctly on it over 350 times yet found 50 cases where Page ruled other then the statute. Why should anyone have to pay thousands of dollars to appeal something a judge should have done in the first place and not be held accountable? Are you afraid of an audit, should anyone be afraid unless they are doing something they shouldn't. How is the public going to know as to vote them out? Yup, our system works great, let Judge Page continue to not apply the law. Is he above the law? I wonder what else he has been doing.

WP said...

I know another jurist, and he is a good friend, who told me abut Mr. Butts and Judge Page. Seems Butts had a bad divorce if I remember correctly before Page. I had posted about it long ago and Mr. Butts became very annoyed with me. It is safe to say he has a very short fuse with regard to a very good judge in Davis County. All of this of course is from one of his peers who is a highly respected member of our community and the judiciary.

Like any pancake there are two sides to this story.

WatchUtahJudges said...

WP continues to avoid the facts and would try to discredit Me (Doug Butts) as if I have a short fuse.

WP does not believe a judge should follow the law. WP, the issue is, did or did not Judge Page apply the law correctly. This is not hard to figure out. This was not a mistake on the part of Judge Page. He simply knew the law by applying it correctly over 350 times since 1995. Yet 12 years later refuses to apply the law correctly the last being in 2007, thus totaling about 50 incorrect rulings for this time period with the audited statutes.

What is so hard WP? Why are you mad at me for telling the truth? Don't you believe the video as being the facts? You have no idea what Judge Page did to my family or other families; it was an ugly divorce because Judge Page made it ugly with his flagrant ruling. If it was not flagrant then why was everything over turned at the appellate level? He did a lot more then legislate from the bench on the medical statute. Yet I use the medical statute as a simple example not up for debate.

You scare me WP. Why would anyone in their right mind want to go before a judge and hope they had a good day and the law would be applied correctly? The facts and his reputation say otherwise. So I ask the question again WP and don't avoid it! Did Judge Page apply the law correctly in the video or not? Don't try and change the subject. Do you know that 50% is not equal to 2/3. There is only one right answer and it's not about pancakes.

Doug Butts,

PS: It's actually a good thing I have a sense of humor about all of this, I'm not the one who was audited and WP thinks it's ok for a judge to rule anyway he wants from the bench and not be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

Doug,

At 1:14, it's spelled "coming." Fix that and your argument could look stronger.

Thanks.

WatchUtahJudges said...

Thanks,

I was having a little too much fun putting the video together.

Actually, I have another one that will give you a good laugh. During the audit when I looked at all the legal documents. The number of spelling errors made me look like English teacher.

We really do have a lot of good judges on the bench. I'm trying to do my part so we can help those families with bad judges have an easer time. I believe this will help the divorced families in our community, ultimately making it a better place to live.

Doug

WP said...

Spoke with an attorney this very AM who practices before Judge Page and has done so for a number of years. What kind of a judge is he, etc? I asked. Sorry Mr. Butts but your opinion is not held by anyone I have found in the legal profession yet, either attorney or peer. Do you have any references for your claims?

Truth said...

Of course Judge Page is a good person. Unfortunately his verdict didn't follow the law and forced Butts to spend money he shouldn't of had to spend.

The system worked but at what cost to Butts and others who are already going through a horrible situation?

We should also point out that attorney rarely speak bad of each other, or do they speak poorly of a judge. Why should they since some attorney made a lot of money from Judge Page's decision?

If any thing does come from this it should be a realization that we should follow the statutes so situations like this don't happen again.

WatchUtahJudges said...

WP,

I would stop if I were you. Your profile says you are a CEO. Yet you continue to avoid my question. What are you afraid of? I really don't care who you talked with. I have stated the facts. Judge Page knowingly refused to apply the statute correctly. Unless you don't know how to add 50/50 is not equal to 1/3,2/3 as per medical statute cost shared. Miss applying this statute can cost thousands of dollars to the losing end. It is not to be taken lightly.

Case: Worthen, 926 P .2d 853 is one case that specifically outlines “Willful and persistent” as in Pages case. The law is not “whatever you want it to be” .

This audit is not trivial. For all those who read this posting. It is very serious. Judge Page or any other judge will know this. I have been communicating with the judicial misconduct commission for sometime now. I would not waste thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours not to have a credible report. I know exactly what is going on. This report will most likely take Judge Page to the Supreme Court to stand trial, and there is nothing you can do about it!

I am very sober when I state this. It is simply not something I wanted to do. The last time I was in court I have a video of me warning Judge Page what I was going to do if he did not stop legislating from the bench.

WP, I expect an apology, you have no idea what is going on with this audit and the seriousness of it.

WP said...

Are you threatening me Mr. Butts because I have a different opinion than you?

WatchUtahJudges said...

You can take my encouragement for you to stop as threatening, apparently you took it personal. I take it as stop embarrassing yourself. You have avoided the issue and the facts. Everyone here knows it. My good sir do what you will.

I would send another message to you and all. Always be honest with your fellow man. Help those in need. Be kind to those less fortunate. Stand up for righteousness. Be good to your family. Hmmmm… WP don't get so angry!

Rob said...

This is going in the wrong direction Doug and WP.

It is serious but pay back isn't the answer. If we are trying to improve the situation then I am all in, but not conversation isn't improving anything.

Doug, WP is a good, decent man. WP, Doug is also a good and decent man.

Let's try sticking to the facts and let's not let negative emotions rule the day.

WatchUtahJudges said...

WP (George) Rob is right, don't worry about apologizing. I need to apologize to you. I know Judge Page is a personal friend of yours. The audit is unfortunate. I feel pretty bad about the audit and presenting it to the misconduct commission. I am trying to make this a better place for everyone. You are right, we all have our opinions.

And personally, I think I was having a little too much fun sparing with you. I would wish you the best with all that you do.

Sincerely Doug

WP said...

He is not a friend, (neither an enemy), and I have never met him. I saw your Clipper ad and inquired of another 2nd District Court Judge about Judge Page. As I have indicated I have found no one since your ad including local attorneys who have anything negative to say about him. Obviously in the legal system there is the option of appeal, all the way to the US Supreme Court. If you have been harmed why have you not appealed an unsatisfactory ruling?

I wish you a better day. If your cause is just you may prevail.

Doug said...

On the fact of things, it appears that Judge Page is, indeed, violating statues 78-45-7-15(3) and 78-45-7-15(6). But any such conclusion must take statue 78-45-7(3) into account. As I read it, this grants the court authority to rebut the Uniform Child Support Guidelines and therefore to establish support "after considering all relevant factors." The fact that Judge Page follows the Guidelines 90% of the time (350 out of 360-400 cases) and goes outside them 10% of the time isn't a particularly compelling argument that he isn't following the law if the law itself authorizes him to go outside the Guidelines. Or do you have evidence that I'm misreading 78-45-7(3)?

Fleeting_Thoughts said...

If Doug follows up on judges like he rides the Unicycle, then the judges had better keep the public trust.

Hat tip to Doug for keeping people right.

WatchUtahJudges said...

Doug,

I appreciate your comments. When I took my case to the applet court. Statute 78-45-7-15(3),(6) was very clear cut in the brief and sources sited. 78-45-7(3) does not apply on these statutes. It cost me over $10,000 for an appellate attorney along with multiple other attorneys telling me the same thing I am presenting in the audit. If you do a search at the appellate level all cases show medical as to be equality shared unless stipulated.

In addition having corresponded with Colin Winchester at the judicial misconduct commission showing him my findings. He was very clear stating to me. Doug, if you can find 10 or more cases where Judge Page did not follow the statute or in our case the medical statute showing costs to be 50/50 I will take the case to the supreme court.

I personally think most people would agree just one or two cases of a judge not applying the law are unacceptable. The audit shows 10 or more cases as the misconduct commission has asked for. If you can find cases at the appellate level stating otherwise I would appreciate you passing this information on to me and the misconduct commission, it would be of great interest .

Doug said...

I haven't located a case where the appellate court either upheld a split other than 50/50 for medical costs or set a split other than 50/50. I have, in fact, found no case where this appears to have been at issue. However, in Boyce v. Goble (990641-CA) the court's opinion states "the Support Act strongly favors following the Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of an award." (Note that "strongly favors" is different from "requires.") This was based on section 78-45-7.2, which clarifies the "rebuttable" nature of the Guidelines as set forth in 78-45-7. In particular, 78-45-7.2(3) states that a "written finding or specific finding on the record supporting the conclusion that complying with a provision of the guidelines or ordering an award amount resulting from use of the guidelines would be unjust, inappropriate, or not in the best interest of a child in a particular case is sufficient to rebut the presumption in that case." It may be that the trial judge failed to provide the "written finding or specific finding on the record" necessary to deviate from the Guidelines, but there does appear to be Appellate Court precedent supporting his authority to so deviate.

keeping it real said...

Gosh, yes, it is good to correct our judges when they are wrong but, are we going to take away all desgression from them at the same time?
Judges are presented with many cases every day and none of them are ever the same. We have judges to determine how things should be so that it is equal.
Mr. Butts does have a temper and thank goodness, he hasn't been in my court. I know his family and I have seen him around his family and to see how he is with his kids, I am surprised that he is not going before the judge for other reasons.
No, this is not a personal attack on Mr. Butts but he has taken it on himself to attack a judge only because it didn't go his way, Mr. Butts, would you be in this situation if it had gone the other way, if your X wife was the one that was ordered to pay 2/3s, would you still be leading this fight? I know you well enough to know that you wouldn't.
See, it is only a personal vendette and it has cost you enough that you could have payed a lot of doctor bills for your kids although I do pray that nothing happens to them that would cost either of you a dime.
With the great words of a great band that learned to see beyond the past and get back together, "Get Over It" The judge has desgression and the appallet court has also seen to waward the judge some desgression. I am surprised that the judge doesn't bring slander up against you for smearing his name just because you are upset with the findings.
Seriosly Mr. Butts, would you be fighting this same fight if it had gone the other way?
Keeping it real

WatchUtahJudges said...

To keeping it real: update, the Judicial Misconduct Commission board has discussed the audit. They found enough evidence to move forward with the case. I guess if I was wrong they would have dropped the complaint. You can make up and/or attempt to discredit me all you want. The audit is not about 2/3 medical it represents something far more serious. and since you are a judge and from what it appears you do not care about families or applying the law. You do have me even more worried that you might be doing the same thing? It is Judges like you who hurt families. My x laughs at me all the time stating she will never be held accountable in court. And so my children are caught in the middle. Lets call the police to enforce visitation. Let judges have desgression and do what they want assuming they are honest judges. If I remember right in the state of Utah, we have reprimanded a number of judges already. It doesn’t mater what the case is about, we have laws set by the legislature not judges.

You can be offended all you want, I,m fighting for families and an honest judicial system, what are you for? More control? You have no idea what I or my children have been through.

I find it interesting at the court house your representative stated to me Judge Page is a fair Judge. However when I pointed out he also refused to let me have pictures of my children. She stated no judge ever does that! I had her look at the decree; yup I guess you are right. I'm sure you looked at the video. Judge Page said it with his own words, they were not mine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJOhPH4kk6o

All I did was state the facts and you are offended. So I ask you the question did or did not Judge Page apply the medical statute (law) correctly? Don't avoid my question. I think all the readers of this post would like a straight answer. Especially since you are a Judge. Let's stick with the facts…

Anonymous said...

Did I say that I was offended? We all know that if the judge had decided to take this the other way, where Mrs. Butts had to pay the 2/3s then Mr. butts would not be fitting this battle, isn't that a little bit self centered and biased?
I think that you are under the idea that we as judges should have our disgession taken away from us and rule only by the code and case law, but, if a souse becomes incapassitated then are we to continue to throw out desgression? What if you broke your arm and couldn't work for three months, you loose your job from the accident and now, you can not pay, the law says that you will pay 50%, I guess that I need to throw out the disgression and make you continue to pay your part.
YOu need to also realize that as a judge, one is given to desgression, that is why we are called "Judges" to determine the "Balances" and apply them equaly.
So, are you going after the supreme justices after thier ruling where four admitted to trying to legislate from the bench in saying that they voted in favor of gun control saying "It should be illegal to keep and bare arms"?
I doubt it, so, there is my point, this is only a personal vendetta of Mr. Butts.
If Mr. Butts would have us believe that he would have done the same thing had the judge ordered the other way and that he would do it in so much as the judge was "Legislating" from the bench, then, I want to see him go after the judge for anything the judge ordered in his favor that may not have been "Law" that was ordered against his X Wife.
Now the big thing that I really want to see happen here now, I want someone to sign a petition to get spell check on here without having to write, copy and paste. Anyone else in favor of that? LOL
Keeping it Real
Yes, Judge Young was removed from the bench but, when caught doing what he was doing, he should not even be allowed to practice any kind of law.

WatchUtahJudges said...

We have a lot of great judges. You don't sound like a judge. we do need discretion when discretion is needed.

you might want to check out another posting on this blog and take the challenge and prove me wrong. Just the facts.

Titled:
Doug Butts says, "Prove me wrong that Judge Rodney Page is legislating from the bench"