Zamora v. Draper

In Zamora v. Draper, 635 P.2d 78 (Utah 1981), the plaintiff challenged the constitutionality of a statute that required, in order to sue a sheriff, constable, or peace officer for an act or omission committed in the performance of his or her duty, the filing of "a written undertaking with two sufficient sureties" for payment to defendant of all costs and expenses that may be awarded against the plaintiff. The plaintiff claimed that he should not have to furnish the bond because of his impecuniosity, and he challenged the statute as unconstitutional. The court upheld the act as constitutional, and in discussing the impecuniosity alleged by the plaintiff, stated, "This assurance that everyone must have access to the courts to avail themselves of the process of justice is implemented in the statutes permitting indigent persons to file suit upon oath without filing the required fees." The court further described the guarantee provided by the Open Courts Clause as the "right to access to the courts" and stated that permitting a trial court to fix a bond in accordance with an indigent plaintiff's circumstances would "allow him access to the court to seek justice, as assured by Sec. 11 of Article I of our State Constitution . . . ." Id. The Court did not strike the statute on its face, but did use article I, section 11 to interject a "higher principle of justice" that provided the plaintiff a remedy that he would not have had under the statute alone. Id. at 81. In essence, the court found the statute unconstitutional as applied under article I, section 11. As Zamora stated: There are certain principles of law relating to the validity of statutes which have a bearing on the problem of constitutionality here presented. The first and foundational one is that the prerogative of the legislature as the creators of the law is to be respected. Consequently, its enactments are accorded a presumption of validity; and the courts do not strike down a legislative act unless the interests of justice in the particular case before it require doing so because the act is clearly in conflict with the higher law as set forth in the Constitution. (Id. at 80.)