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Gov. Gary Herbert announced Monday that John Pearce, a Utah Court of Appeals judge, will fill a vacancy on the Utah Supreme Court.
"I like the fact that he's hardworking," Herbert said of Pearce at a news conference at the Capitol. "And it's hard work to be on the Supreme Court."
The vacancy on the state's high court results from the August resignation of Justice Jill Parrish, who has been confirmed as a federal judge for the Utah district. Pearce said Monday that he was overcome with gratitude and humility.
"I would love it, if confirmed [by the Senate], if at the end of my tenure, people say, 'He worked hard on every case,' " Pearce said. " 'He thought about it. He understood the arguments in front of him. He explained them thoroughly and intelligently. And he got it right.' "
Pearce, 46, said that he did not come from a family of lawyers, but that an elementary school teacher's mock trial classroom requirement was what sparked an interest that led him to law school.
"It feels like a pretty long journey," he said, "from Cyprus High School to the steps of the Supreme Court."
Pearce was appointed to the Utah Court of Appeals by Herbert in October 2013.
Before joining the bench, Pearce was an associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto, Calif., a shareholder and member of the Executive Committee at Jones Waldo in Salt Lake City and served as general counsel to Herbert, according to the Utah Court's website. Pearce is an adjunct professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah.
He graduated from Cyprus High in Magna, holds a degree in economics from the University of Utah and received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Herbert chose Pearce from a list of seven nominees three women and four men. He spoke highly of the nominee pool, saying he could have pulled any of their names from a hat and known that the selected person would serve Utah well.
"Judge Pearce really is the total, complete package," Herbert said. "He has all the things you like to find in someone who is going to be a great Supreme Court judge."
The governor's appointment is now subject to confirmation by the Utah Senate.
Chief Justice Matthew Durrant said the high court justices are "thrilled at the prospect of working with Judge Pearce," adding that he hopes the vote comes out in Pearce's favor.
"He's open-minded, patient and respectful of others," Durrant said, "and committed to applying the facts to the law so that citizens of Utah can receive the justice to which they are entitled."
Pearce and his wife, Jennifer Napier-Pearce who works for The Salt Lake Tribune and hosts Trib Talk have two sons, Ben and Jonas.
Earlier this year, Herbert named former 3rd District Judge Deno Himonas to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Utah Supreme Court Justice Ronald Nehring. Himonas was sworn in as a justice to the five-member panel in March.