Stoker v. Stoker

In Stoker v. Stoker, 616 P.2d 590, 591 (Utah 1980) the court determined that the legislature had completely abolished the antiquated doctrine of Interspousal Tort Immunity, which had prohibited a married woman from suing for injury to person or property without her husband's consent and prohibited her from being sued individually. The legislature declared that married women could "prosecute and defend all actions for the preservation and protection of her rights and property as if unmarried . . . ." Id. The court interpreted this legislation to permit a married woman to sue her husband for an intentional tort, and noted that the Open Courts Clause--which guarantees that "every person, for an injury done to him in his person, property or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, which shall be administered without denial or unnecessary delay in a court of law"--lent "credence to their interpretation of the statute," suggesting that women as well as men were permitted access to the courts to have their legal disputes resolved. Id. Justice Crockett dissented, discussing the dangers of "judicial legislation," as he viewed the majority opinion as an usurpation of the constitutional role of the legislature to change or modify the law. Id. at 592-94. Justice Crockett advocated that the law should not have been changed by the court, but by the legislature. Id. at 594.