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Judge sets rules for courtroom conduct in hearing over inland port lawsuit

Posted at 1:34 PM, Nov 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-15 15:34:33-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A judge is threatening jail sentences for contempt if people who show up to a court hearing over the inland port don’t behave themselves.

In a decorum order issued ahead of a hearing Monday in Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s lawsuit against the Inland Port Authority, Third District Court Judge James Blanch laid down some rules.

Bags, backpacks and containers would not be allowed in the courtroom at all, except for attorneys and their staff. People could be searched headed into the courthouse. News media would be restricted to where they could go in the courtroom. Recording or electronic devices that are not previously approved by the court are not allowed.

“Audible comments of any kind by any spectator during proceedings, and provocative or uncivil behavior within the courthouse at any time, will not be tolerated,” the judge wrote.

Punishment for violating the judge’s decorum order include up to 30 days in jail or a $1,000 fine.

The decorum order comes after numerous protests have disrupted meetings of the Utah Inland Port Authority. The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office has leveled criminal charges against a number of demonstrators for a protest in July that authorities said led to violence and vandalism.

The lawsuit itself centers around claims the state is usurping Salt Lake City’s taxing authority. Mayor Biskupski’s attorneys have asked the judge to dismantle the port authority, arguing it violates the state constitution. On Monday, the judge will entertain arguments by the state to dismiss the mayor’s litigation.

Read the judge’s decorum order here: