As you know, Rep. Briscoe and I are members of the Utah Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands. That is the
legislative commission charged with the following duties, among others: (From H.B. 151, Section 3 [uncodified])
Section 3. Duties — Interim report.
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(h) receive reports from and make recommendations to the attorney general and other stakeholders involved in litigation
on behalf of the state’s interest in the transfer of public lands to the state, regarding:
(i) preparation for potential litigation;
(ii) selection of outside legal counsel;
(iii) ongoing legal strategy for the transfer of public lands; and
(iv) use of money appropriated by the Legislature for the purpose of securing the transfer of public lands to the state.
You also know that on December 9, 2015, the Davillier Law Group, LLC, the lawyers engaged by the Office of Legislative Research
and General Counsel, delivered a Legal Analysis to the Commission. That 150 page report discusses in great detail the positive
legal basis for pursuing litigation against the federal government to position the State to obtain ownership or control of federal
lands in the State of Utah. That same report provides little to no detail on the defenses or negative analysis of such litigation.
We believe that as Commission members, we should have that information before recommending time-consuming and costly
litigation to the Attorney General, the Governor and the Legislature, much less our constituents.
We have asked the representatives from the Davillier Law Group to provide the undersigned with that analysis. Mr. Wentz
of that group advised us they cannot without direction from you. While they admit that the members of the Commission are
their clients, they won’t discuss the negatives of litigation with us without your direction.
We write as members of the Commission to ask you, as appointed Chair of the Commission, two questions and to make
First, has the Davillier Law Group, advised or discussed with you, or to your knowledge anyone else, either orally or in writing,
“all anticipated defenses and counterarguments” (p. 1 of Legal Analysis, Section 1) to the recommended litigation. Such matters
were intentionally excluded from the now public report from that law group. If you have been so advised or had such discussions,
please provided the undersigned with all writings provided to you or anyone else in that respect, and please direct the Davillier
Law Group to provide the same advice and discussion, oral or written, which they have provided to you or anyone else.
Second, if you have not been advised by the Davillier Law Group of “all anticipated defenses and counterarguments” to the
recommended litigation, please tell us on what basis the Commission can recommend to the Office of Legislative Research and
General Counsel, the Attorney General, the Governor or the Legislature that the recommended litigation be pursued in light of
the existence of “anticipated defenses and counterarguments thereto.” Or if you are not aware of any such basis and none has
been provided, please tell us when and how we might expect to receive such advice, or confirm that we never will. Note that
the Davillier Law Group recommends that they be authorized to prepare a “private memorandum for confidential consideration
by the Attorney General addressing potential defenses to Utah’s claims, together with counter arguments, along with a model
Complaint.” (p. 146 of Legal Analysis, Part Six).
With a projected price tag of over $14 Million Dollars, and in light of our charge from the Legislature, we believe that any
decision recommending litigation be made with an understanding of both sides of the dispute. In only that way can we assess
the merits of such an endeavor. We await your responses.
Rep. Joel K. BriscoeSen. Jim Dabakis