The Appellate Group

Croft v. Morgan County

Croft v. Morgan County, 2021 UT 46 (Himonas, J.)

Election Law

Appellants (registered voters and residents of the county) filed an application for a citizen referendum regarding a ski resort development, which was rejected by the county clerk. Appellants challenged the rejection in the district court, but the developer moved to dismiss on the basis that the district court lacked jurisdiction. The relevant statute provides the sponsor must challenge the rejection of the referendum in “the Supreme Court by means of an extraordinary writ, if possible,” and in the district court only where “the sponsor is prohibited from pursuant [such] an extraordinary writ.”Utah Code § 20A-7-602.8(4)(a). The district court granted the motion to dismiss. On appeal, the Utah Supreme Court reversed, holding:

  • The relevant statutory provision of the election code is ambiguous as to when a sponsor might be “prohibited from pursuing” an extraordinary writ in the Utah Supreme Court or when raising a challenge in the Utah Supreme Court is “possible.” But applying rule 19 of the Utah Rules of Appellate Procedure to the interpretation of this statute, a sponsor of a rejected referendum may challenge the rejection in the district court unless it is “impractical or inappropriate” to do so. Utah R. App. P. 19(b)(5).

Read the full court opinion