Robert Hilder

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Robert K. Hilder (born May 15, 1949) is a former Third Judicial District Court Judge in the US state of Utah. The Third District consists of Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties. He was recently elected Summit County attorney and was sworn in on January 5, 2015. Prior to that he did extensive mediation and arbitration work.


Hilder received his bachelor's degree from the University of Utah where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1984 he received his J.D. degree from the University of Utah College of Law, where he served on the Utah Law Review.

Legal career[edit]

Hilder worked part-time at the Salt Lake City law firm of Christensen & Jensen as a clerk during law school. After graduating he joined the firm practicing civil litigation and eventually working his way up to managing director of the law firm. Hilder teaches pretrial practice as an adjunct professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law.

Judicial career[edit]

Hilder was appointed to the Third Judicial District Court on August 1, 1995 by Governor Michael O. Leavitt.

Hilder has been called "one of the kindest, most compassionate, gentlest people to sit on the bench."[1] He spared a teenage boy who accidentally accelerated a car into a crowd of people, killing two of them. As a result of the crash, the boy received brain damage. Instead of sending the boy to jail, Hilder ordered that the boy serve 8 hours a week for 5 years serving people. Such as helping the elderly. This was something that Hilder thought might cause criticism, but both parties seemed content with the decision.

Hilder has served as the Presiding Judge of the Third District since 2007. He has also served on the Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee, the Utah Judicial Council and the Administrative Governing Body of the Utah Court System. For a description of Hilder's courtroom approach see "Some Resolutions of a New Judge." Published in the June/ July issue of the Utah Bar Journal.[2]

Hilder was nominated in 2008 by Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. to be appointed to the Utah Court of Appeals.[3] Hilder's appointment was actively opposed by the Utah gun lobby because of a decision he made in a case involving the ability of the University of Utah to regulate the carrying of concealed weapons on campus.[4] Hilder sided with the University and the legislature subsequently mooted his decision by amending the law.[5] Although the Senate Judicial Confirmation Committee recommended confirmation on a 3–2 vote,[6] the full Senate declined to confirm him on a 16–12 vote against confirmation.[7] The Utah State Bar actively supported Hilder's appointment and the matter generated considerable public controversy.[8][9][10]

Hilder was re-elected in the 2010 retention election 151,876 to 54,350.[11] Prior to the 2010 election, Hilder was certified by the Utah Judicial Council as having successfully passed his Judicial Performance Evaluations by attorneys, jurors and staff.[12]

In 2010 the Utah State Bar awarded Hilder with the 2010 Judge of the Year Award.[13]


Hilder who ruled that the University of Utah could prohibit guns on its campus. As a result, his proposed appointment to the Court of Appeals[clarification needed] was opposed by gun lobbyists. One of the leaders of the opposition to his appointment was Michael G. Waddoups, who was a major advocate of guns on university campuses.

Hilder also heard the case involving Paul Wayment, and sentenced him to jail even though the prosecutor had not asked for such.[14]

Personal background[edit]

Hilder immigrated to the United States in 1977 from Sydney. Adelaide, Australia. He graduated from law school in 1984, the same year he became a U.S. citizen. Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” inspired Hilder and sparked his interest in law. Hilder knew he wanted to become a judge one day from an early age and despite a rough childhood growing up, he never lost sight of his dream. Many people would be surprised to know he held a variety of jobs growing up in Australia including working in the banks, mines and maybe most surprisingly a bouncer in a local pub.


  1. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes | Works". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Utah State Bar Sections & Committees". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ 3rd District judge to join Court of Appeals | Deseret News (Salt Lake City) Newspaper | Find Articles at BNET[dead link]
  4. ^ "• View topic – Defeat Hilder, Contact Senate Juditial Committee". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  5. ^ Fight brewing over judicial nomination | Deseret News (Salt Lake City) Newspaper | Find Articles at BNET[dead link]
  6. ^ "Senate Scheduled to Vote on Hilder's Confirmation to Utah Court of Appeals (Utah State Bar News & Announcements)". November 12, 2008. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ Judge's nomination rejected | Deseret News (Salt Lake City) Newspaper | Find Articles at BNET[dead link]
  8. ^ "November 2008". The Senate Site. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Tribune Blogs – Out of Context: The Tribune's political writers' blog". November 23, 2008. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Voice of Utah: November 2008". Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "e.Bulletin August 2010 (Utah State Bar News & Announcements)". August 4, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  14. ^ "''Los Angeles Times'', Dec. 30, 2001". February 21, 2000. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 


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