Rob was born in 1969 in Salt Lake City to a family that operated Utah's first care facility for vulnerable adults. After attending schools in Utah and Arizona, Rob earned degrees from the University of Southern California and S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah with the help of scholarships and student loans.
Upon graduation from law school, Rob associated with a family friend who had a civil law practice that included personal injury and water law. Using his background in broadcast journalism, Rob produced trainings delivered by video for the American Bar Association's Lawyers Communication Network. Rob's interest in public policy lead to his advocacy on behalf of professional associations at the Utah Legislature.
Rob took his lived experience to begin his own law practice, where he found his calling representing individuals responding to State interventions in their lives. And -- after a brief interlude as the Town Attorney for Big Water, Utah in Kane County -- Rob returned to representing the citizen accused in Utah's courts.
Like so many who have come to live in southern Utah, when Rob saw the opportunity to reside amongst our spectacular red rocks and sunny skies, he took it.
After several years of traditional criminal defense practice, Rob pursued an opportunity to practice in Washington County's juvenile courts. There, he represented both young individuals responding to petitions alleging delinquent conduct, and parents responding to family regulation petitions.
In 2015, the Parental Defense Alliance of Utah recognized Rob as its New Parental Defender of the Year. A few years later, Rob won a landmark case protecting family integrity before the Utah Court of Appeals, and successfully defended its appeal to the Utah Supreme Court.
Protecting the integrity of families from the DCFS and asserting the process due young individuals in juvenile court spawned enmity from some within those institutions and their lawyers, including one deputy county attorney -- Angela Adams -- who not only prosecutes Washington County's youths in juvenile court but also trades on her past experience with the Office of Guardian ad Litem to handle ... adoption cases.
Eventually, a plan was hatched: Washington County Commissioners Gil Almquist, Victor Iverson, and the late Dean Cox would create an indigent defense "committee" to field complaints about public defenders. Only, that plan backfired because -- after considering the complaints made by those who opposed Rob in court, not his clients -- the newly-formed committee recommended that Rob's contract be renewed.
In the course of defending the parental rights of his clients, on a few occasions Rob subpoenaed Washington County Commission Administrator Nicholle Felshaw, Indigent Defense Committee member Jenny Jones, and a region director and case supervisor for DCFS, Kyle Garrett and Deanna Bigelow, respectively, to court.
The incumbent, Eric Clarke, prepared an objection to the subpoenas for Felshaw and Jones. Clarke's draft objection claimed "grave concern with the potential precedent of having staff and appointed indigent defense committee members subpoenaed to testify" in cases ... or at least in the case involving a complaint coordinated by one of Clarke's child trafficking colleagues.
However, DCFS preferred to give Rob's clients the relief they sought rather than have its region director and case supervisor testify in court, and Clarke's objection wasn't filed.
The following year, the Washington County Commissioners decided not to renew Rob's contract to defend the integrity of our communities' families, without a stated reason.
Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap announced his departure from the office a few weeks later.
When one door closes other doors open, and Rob is now living his dream of practicing adult criminal defense for the Utah Indigent Defense Commission, along with protecting the integrity of families in Utah's rural counties, and on appeal.
Rob's experience in both the criminal legal system and family regulation system is one reason he supports implementing evidence-based policy reforms that have been shown to improve community safety.
He asks for your vote to show support for just laws and the just application of the law.