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Justice Constandinos “Deno” Himonas

AALM: Tell us about your judicial positions.

Himonas: I have held two judicial positions, one as a trial court judge with the Third Judicial District and one as a justice on the Utah Supreme Court. I was appointed to the district court in 2004 by then Gov. Olene Walker. In late 2014, Gov. Gary Herbert nominated me for a position on the Utah Supreme Court. I was confirmed by the Utah State Senate in February 2015 and have been serving as a justice from that point forward. Nearly every case we hear presents really interesting and difficult issues. The intellectual challenge is intense.

AALM: How did you transition from your career as an attorney to your career as a judge? What prompted the change?

Himonas: There were a number of factors that came into play as I decided to move from practice to the bench. One of the most significant factors was my love of the courtroom. I couldn’t get enough in private practice. It’s also what I miss the most about going from the trial court to the appellate court.

AALM: What advice do you have for attorneys considering the switch?

Himonas: Do it and don’t wait for the “right time” because that time may never come. It is a rare, rare event when a lawyer makes the switch and regrets it.

AALM: Describe your style in the courtroom.

Himonas: I want the communication in the courtroom to be a dialogue, not a monologue. As a practicing attorney, I always appreciated it when a judge would let me know what he or she was thinking and gave me an opportunity to address their questions and concerns.

AALM: Do you have any advice for attorneys trying a case before your bench?

Himonas: In preparing for oral argument, put yourself in the position of the judge or justices and try as best you can to identify the questions they may have for you. Concede losing arguments. And prepare, prepare, prepare.

AALM: How did you decide to become an attorney?

Himonas: My mother told me I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up – so long as it was a doctor or a lawyer. It didn’t take long for the law to win that two-way competition.

AALM: Are there any challenges that you believe need to be corrected in the legal community?

Himonas: We have a real “access to justice” gap in the United States. Absent meaningful change, our trial courts will largely become criminal courts and debt collection courts. I am very excited about a number of initiatives that we have undertaken to combat this problem. For example, we’re working toward an online dispute resolution system for small claims court that is truly revolutionary.

AALM: What do you do in your spare time? Hobbies?

Himonas: I’m an avid squash player. I also love to cook and travel.