Governor Names New Legal Counsel And Criminal Justice Advisor

SALT LAKE CITY – The Governor’s legal team will soon be changing. The Utah State Senate has unanimously confirmed the nomination of John A. Pearce, general counsel for Governor Gary R. Herbert, to the Utah Court of Appeals.  Subsequently, the Governor named Jacey Skinner, director of the Utah Sentencing Commission since 2008, his new general counsel. He also announced that Ron Gordon, while continuing as executive director of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ), will now serve in an elevated role as a member of the Governor’s senior staff and criminal justice policy advisor.

 “John will be a great addition to the judiciary,” said the Governor. “Jacey’s wealth of legal experience and longstanding legislative rapport makes her a good fit, while Ron’s continued leadership at CCJJ will enhance our senior staff as we navigate enterprise level initiatives in criminal justice.”

Pearce will leave his post as general counsel to transition to the court in the next few weeks.  He said, “It has been an honor to serve as the Governor’s General Counsel for the past four years.  I will always be grateful to the Governor for giving me the opportunity to serve the state and am proud to have worked with the Governor, his staff and cabinet.”

“I have appreciated the opportunity to serve the state as the Director of the Sentencing Commission, particularly the opportunity to work with the Commission and its exceptional members,” Skinner said.  “I am both excited for and humbled by the opportunity to serve the State and the Governor in this new role.”

As director of the Utah Sentencing Commission, Skinner has developed and published sentencing guidelines and advised the Legislature, the Governor and the Judicial Council regarding the sentencing and release of juvenile and adult offenders.  She is the current president of the National Association of Sentencing Commissions.   

Previously, Skinner was an Assistant District Attorney with Salt Lake County.  She received a Bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and a Juris Doctor from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.

CCJJ’s executive director since 2009, Gordon said, “It has been a privilege to work in the Herbert administration for the past four years on criminal justice matters. I am honored by the opportunity to continue this work and to work more closely with Governor Herbert, his cabinet and his senior staff as a policy advisor.”

Prior to his CCJJ appointment, Gordon served as the Director of the Office of Crime Victim Reparations, Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Advisory Council in Salt Lake County, Director of the Utah Sentencing Commission and staff attorney to the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.  He received his Bachelor of Science from Brigham Young University in 1995 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Utah in 1998.