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Two new judges will be appointed to eastern Utah's fast-growing 8th Judicial District, a decision lawmakers approved despite a price tag of more than a half-million dollars per year.

Lawmakers approved SB125 and SB127 on Thursday. Both are headed to Gov. Gary Herbert to be signed into law.

The bills would add an adult court judge and a juvenile court judge, plus two clerks, starting in fiscal year 2014. While Utah court case numbers overall have been declining, the 8th Judicial District, which serves residents in Uintah, Duchesne and Daggett counties, registered more than a 20 percent jump from 2008 to 2012 and overloaded existing judges.

Lawmakers recognized another unmet need when they approved HB50, which would allows dating partners who have been victims of violence or threats to seek protective orders.

The measure would allow anyone age 18 or over who has been the victim of violence or a threat in a dating relationship to obtain a dating protective order that lasts 180 days. Violations of the order are punishable as a class B misdemeanor.

And lawmakers also moved to allow the spouse of a wrongfully convicted person to continue receiving all the restitution money owed even if the convicted person dies.

HB92, which unanimously passed the House and Senate, would act as a kind of insurance policy for the handful of Utah families wronged by false convictions. To date, factual innocence costs in Utah have ranged from $70,000 to $500,000 per case, according to the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst.

The Salt Lake Tribune

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