Governor names Brody Keisel as juvenile court judge

Brody Keisel

Governor names Brody Keisel as juvenile court judge

By Robert Stevens

Managing Editor

Dec. 21, 2017


MANTI—Sanpete County Attorney Brody Keisel may be moving to the other side of the judge’s bench now that Gov. Gary R. Herbert has appointed him to be a 6th District Juvenile Court judge.

Gov. Herbert praised Keisel highly, citing his experience as the reason why the county attorney made a good choice for the judgeship.

“Brody Keisel is uniquely qualified to serve on the bench of the 6th District Juvenile Court,” Gov. Herbert said, after making the appointment on Wednesday, Dec. 13. “His years of experience in this district will serve him well, and he will make wise and balanced decisions as he works with our young citizens.”

Sanpete County Commissioner Claudia Jarrett echoed the governor’s support for Keisel in the position, saying “The Sanpete County Commissioners are elated that the governor has nominated our County Attorney, Brody Keisel, to the 6th District Juvenile Court.

“Brody has always proven his professionalism, integrity and attention to detail in his role as advisor to the commission. He has served the citizens of this County with the utmost sincerity and fairness to victims, and decency and toughness to the accused while ethically and honestly applying the law of the land. He is the best of the best for this position.”

Keisel, who, if confirmed for the judgeship by the Utah senate, will replace Judge Paul Lyman of Richfield, who is scheduled to retire Dec. 31 after more than 16 years on the juvenile court bench. Lyman was appointed by then Gov. Michael Leavitt in 2000.

Four other candidates were in the running for the appointment, and Keisel has served as Sanpete County attorney, municipal prosecutor in Manti and as deputy Sanpete County attorney under former county attorney Ross Blackham.

Keisel has been responsible for 6th District Court (which covers Garfield, Kane, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier and Wayne counties) prosecutions since 2003 and is an adjunct professor in criminal law at Snow College. Keisel received his law degree from the University of Nebraska School of Law.

“I am truly honored and humbled by Gov. Herbert appointing me to the Juvenile Court bench,” said Keisel. “It is a privilege and great trust given me to work with our young citizens to help them become productive, law-abiding adults by leading them back from wayward paths, helping them recognize their inner goodness and future potential.”

During Keisel’s time as county attorney, he has been front and center during a number of controversial local criminal cases, including the prosecution of convicted murderer Logan McFarland, and, most recently, in the investigation and return of four Spring City children kidnapped by their father and the leader of a fundamentalist religious sect called “The Knights of the Crystal Blade.”

What Keisel will miss the most about being the county attorney—if confirmed by the senate—is, without a doubt, he said, the associations he has made with people during his time in the position.

Keisel said he owes a great deal of gratitude to his office and to Ross Blackham, to his successor Kevin Daniels and to Debbie Plummer and the rest of his staff, past and present.

He also said he will miss the relationships with past and present officers and deputies, admitting that some success in his office very much rested on the investigations and work done by them.

Finally, he said will also miss the camaraderie with other county and community leaders, county employees and local citizens.

“If you asked me nearly 15 years ago what I enjoyed most about my job, I might have told you I enjoyed the ‘thrill of the chase’ and the goal of seeing offenders escorted off to jail or prison. I continue to get satisfaction from my work. However, now, while still focused on obtaining justice, I am more attentive to victims and more attentive to finding paths that will also help give offenders the tools and opportunity to become law-abiding, successful citizens in our community.”

Keisel said sometimes people ask him if he likes working with “criminals,” and he said his honest response is that I enjoy working with “people” because most people in the criminal justice system are still decent people inside.

But people—him included—make mistakes, Keisel said.

“For one reason or another, they veered away from the right path and made poor choices,” Keisel said. “Personally, it is has been very rewarding to have victims express appreciation for my efforts but also rewarding to have seen people change their lives for good.”

A few things he won’t miss.

“I strongly dislike seeing the results of poor choices, especially evidence of abuse or violence or even neglect,” Keisel said. “I also dislike seeing people at very low points in their lives due to poor choices or those suffering from the poor choices of others.”

He added, “My new opportunity will not take me away from these areas. I will still be subjected to them but now from a different perspective.” Instead of being an advocate, he will now seek to be an arbiter of justice.

He said he has lost more than one night’s sleep as county attorney and said he feels confident he will lose just as many as judge.

“Still, I contend that the positive aspects of my service outweigh the negative,” he said. “Overall, I am grateful to the people of Sanpete County for allowing me the great privilege to serve as their county attorney.”

The Utah Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee is now seeking public comment on Keisel. The committee consists of Sen. Todd Weiler (chair), Sen. Jim Dabakis, Sen. Lyle W. Hillyard, Sen. Don L. Ipson, Sen. Peter C. Knudson, Sen. Karen Mayne and Sen. Kevin T. Van Tassell.

Those who desire to comment should contact Jerry Howe at the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah State Capitol Complex, House Building, Suite W210, PO Box 145210, Salt Lake City, UT 84114, by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018.

All statements should include the respondent’s name, telephone number and mailing address.

The Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee plans to hold a public hearing then issue a recommendation to the full senate. If confirmed by the senate, Keisel will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Lyman, effective Dec. 31.

If confirmed by the senate, current Deputy County Attorney Kevin Daniels will act as Interim Sanpete County Attorney until an election is held to permanently fill the position—possibly as early as March.