Justice Michael J. Wilkins

Board Member

Justice Michael J Wilkins, Utah Supreme Court (ret.), is a graduate of the University of Utah (B.S. 1975) (J.D. 1977) and the University of Virginia (LL.M. 2000).  He engaged in private litigation law practice in Salt Lake City, Utah (1977-1994) representing commercial and corporate clients.  In 1994 he was appointed a judge of the Utah Court of Appeal and served as Presiding Judge (1997-2000).  He was appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court in 2000, serving until retirement in 2010.  He was elected Associate Chief Justice by his colleagues (2008-2010).  He served as chair of the Court’s committee on professionalism, among other assignments.  He was a bar examiner, the chair of the Utah Independent Legislative Ethics Committee, and a member of the Utah Uniform Law Commission (2007-present, chair 2008-present).  As a member of the Utah Uniform Law Commission he is also an active member of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.  He has been an adjunct lecturer in law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.  He is admitted to practice before the courts of Utah, the United States District of Utah, the U. S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

In 2005, as part of the Central European Law Initiative, both Justice Wilkins and his wife, Judge Diane Wilkins, visited Ukraine.  The project, co-sponsored by the Supreme Court of Ukraine, the United States Government, and the American Bar Association, was intended to assist emerging democracies in establishing constitutionally based criminal justice systems.  They were hosted by members of the Supreme Court of Ukraine as guest lecturers, speaking to large groups of Ukrainian judges throughout the country.  On two trips, totaling more than 4 weeks, the Wilkins visited 12 cities and spoke to more than three thousand judges.  They addressed topics related to judicial management, constitutional protections, and similarities between the United States Constitution and the then recently adopted Ukrainian constitution.

In 2008, Justice Wilkins was invited by the Mexican Supreme Court and the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss judicial management, transparency and trust of courts, and the migration of Mexican nationals into the United States.  As the senior member of the U.S. delegation, Justice Wilkins was given the privilege of one-on-one consultation with the Chief Justice of Mexico in discussing the challenges facing the Mexican court system.

Justice Wilkins retired from active service on the court in 2010.  For 18 months in 2014-2015 Justice Wilkins volunteered as associate legal counsel for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving from Auckland, New Zealand.  He assisted in managing the legal affairs of the Church and its subordinate units in the 19 countries of the Church’s Pacific Area.  This service involved him in the unique legal systems of the Pacific island nations, as well as the common law based systems of New Zealand and Australia on a daily basis.

In 2017 Justice Wilkins was asked to study the European Union legal system, as well as the legal system of the Council of Europe (embodied in the European Court of Human Rights).  This assignment, on behalf of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies of Brigham Young University, saw him living first in Brussels, Belgium (home of the EU) and later in Strasbourg, France (home of the European Court of Human Rights).  While in Europe, he was granted membership in the European Law Institute.  He returned to the U.S. in the spring of 2019.

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