Richard Van Wagoner leads the firm’s Criminal Defense Practice Group. His practice focuses on criminal defense—primarily white collar and some street crime—commercial litigation, and First Amendment law.
Much of Rick’s practice involves representing clients who are either under criminal investigation or who have been charged with crimes. He has been involved in numerous significant cases of alleged white-collar crime and approaches his cases with a deep commitment and attempt to understand both the mistaken mindset prosecutors and investigators attribute to his clients and the criminal mind.
A substantial part of Rick’s criminal defense practice focuses on working with prosecutorial and investigative agencies to prevent charges from being filed in the first place. When charges are filed, he provides his client with a vigorous defense.
Rick’s civil practice often involves cases with potential criminal cross-over—a mix that can complicate both strategies. Often, these cases also involve professional licensing issues. He is often asked to speak before his peers in the legal industry on the complex interplay between criminal and civil matters.
The third leg of Rick’s practice is First Amendment law. He has represented institutional clients in cases involving First Amendment Speech, Religion, and Association Clauses. He has also represented individuals whose speech rights and rights of association have been impaired or infringed due to their unpopularity which is the essence of the constitutional protections. Rick is a member and former board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah.
Rick defends government entities in cases involving alleged violations of individuals’ First Amendment or other constitutional rights. He also represents select plaintiffs. Among his well-known cases are the Ogden City Ten Commandments case, the Ogden City signage case, the Murray City prayer case, the Wendy Weaver (lesbian high school coach) case and cases allowing gay clubs in the Salt Lake City School District.
Rick is deeply interested in the issues surrounding meaningful reform of the criminal justice system.
- J.D., University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, 1985
- B.A., Weber State College, 1982
Bar & Court Admissions
- Utah State Bar
- Federal District Court
- Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
- U.S. Supreme Court