Common Cause of Utah v. Public Service Commission

In Common Cause of Utah v. Public Service Commission, 598 P.2d 1312 (Utah 1979), the Court said that the legislatively-created Utah Public Service Commission performs a variety of duties, including those that fall distinctly within legislative, administrative, and adjudicative categories. Id. at 1314. In order to perform the adjudicative function of hearing and resolving disputes between competing and protesting utilities, the Public Service Commission must be able to deliberate and arrive at decisions in private. Id. The Court therefore concluded that the Public Service Commission's adjudicative function was quasi-judicial, and that as a result the Open and Public Meetings Act did not apply when the Public Service Commission acts in its adjudicative role. Id. In concluding that the Public Service Commission's deliberative sessions need not be open to the public, we balanced two competing interests: "The obviously desirable objective of giving the public, . . . the fullest possible degree of knowledge of the matter under consideration, and of affording the opportunity to supply information and to engage in dialogue and the exchange of ideas[; against the interest that] after all of the evidence and information has been furnished to the Commission, the process of analysis, deliberation, and arriving at a decision, should be permitted to take place in an atmosphere of peace and privacy, . . . so that the commissioners have the opportunity for a frank and unrestricted discussion and exchange of ideas in order that they can arrive at the best possible decision . . . ." (598 P.2d at 1313-14.)