Samuel Alba


Sam offers clients a unique skill level gained as a judge, a prosecutor, a public defender, and a lawyer in private practice.  Because of this broad experience, he can readily assess a case from all perspectives. Sam works proactively with prosecutorial and investigative agencies to prevent criminal charges from being filed against clientsshielding them from significant damage to their bottom line and reputation.

Sam joined the firm after 20 years as a well-respected federal magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court, District of Utah.  He was Utah’s first Latino federal magistrate judge.  In this capacity, he oversaw a wide range of high-profile cases, including the Olympic bribery scandal, the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, the theft of ancient artifacts from federal lands, the deaths of two children exposed to toxic pesticide, and many more.

In 2010, Sam presided over Phillips Electrical v. BC Technical, which involved claims of copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and misappropriation of trade secrets.

As a magistrate judge, Sam was instrumental in securing a significant expansion of powers for magistrate judges in Utah.  He was co-chair of the building committee that oversaw construction of the new federal courthouse in Salt Lake City – a state-of-the-art facility that offers vastly improved convenience and security for the public, court staff, judges, and prisoners.

Prior to his judgeship, Sam prosecuted a wide range of criminal cases as the first assistant and then chief of the criminal section at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah.  He also worked for the Federal Public Defenders office in Arizona and for two law firms, where he represented a number of clients.








  • J.D., Arizona State University, College of Law, 1972
  • B.A., Utah State University, Political Science, 1969

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Utah State Bar
  • U.S. District Court, District of Utah
  • Arizona State Bar (inactive)

Legal Services

  • Speaker, “Difference Between Being White and Non-White in the USA Today,” Project for Deeper Understanding – Public Forum, September 2016
  • Speaker, “Benefit of Using Trial Prep Consulting Services for Significant Cases,” Utah State Bar Summer Convention, July 2016
  • Speaker, “Attorney/Client Privilege in Discovery,” 9th Annual Federal Bar Association’s Criminal Law Seminar, 2015
  • Speaker, “Ethical Issues in Criminal Representation,” Annual CJA/FPD Seminar, 2014
  • Speaker, “The Changing Face of Law in Latin America,” Utah State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series, 2010

Sam is a frequent presenter and author on a number of issues relating to federal evidence. He has conducted many presentations for the Tenth Circuit Judicial Conference Judges’ Meetings and for the Utah State Bar on a variety of topics, including civility and trial practice issues.

  • Utah Center for Legal Inclusion – Fiduciary Board Member
  • Utah Bar Association – Civility and Professionalism Committee
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Construction of the Utah Federal Courthouse – Co-chair Building Committee
  • Alpine Country Club – Board of Directors
  • Committee for Defenders Services, Representative appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist, 2003-2009
  • Named the Best Lawyers® 2020 and 2022 White-Collar Criminal Defense “Lawyer of the Year” in Salt Lake City
  • Recognized as a Utah Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine for Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Recipient of Daughters of the American Revolution’s “Americanism Award”, 2017
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America® for Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Utah State University, 2013
  • Recognized as Utah Legal Elite in Criminal Law, by Utah Business Magazine
  • Distinguished Service to the Utah State Bar Award, 2012
  • Recognized in Latinos in Utah, 2009
  • Honored as one of the First 50 Minority Lawyers in Utah, by the Utah Minority Bar Association, 2005
  • Rated by Martindale-Hubbell® Peer review as AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5.*
*Peer review Rated Lawyer of AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5.* *AV® Preeminent™ and BV® Distinguished™ are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Defending Utah’s former Attorney General.  Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff was arrested and charged with ten feloniesincluding receiving or soliciting bribes, accepting gifts, tampering with witnesses and evidence, and participating in a pattern of unlawful conduct.  Shurtleff steadfastly asserts his innocence.  In this highly publicized ongoing case, the firm succeeded in separating Shurtleff’s case from that of his successor, John Swallow.  In addition, the firm successfully fought subpoenas demanding that Shurtleff testify in the Marc Sessions Jenson communications fraud trial.

Defending bicycle manufacturer against trademark infringement lawsuit.  Representing a global bicycle manufacturer and distributor sued in federal court for trademark infringement.  Plaintiff is a Utah company that manufactures wheels, forks, seat posts, handlebars and stems along with composite tubes for custom bicycle frame builders.

Defending global drug manufacturer in Utah Representing a global healthcare manufacturer of prescription medications, vaccines, biologic therapies, and animal health products.  One of the client’s painkillers was associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and the manufacturer stopped selling the drug and agreed to pay a settlement (which was not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing).  The manufacturer retained Sam and others in the firm for representation in Utah against related product liability lawsuits.

Defending a limited liability company in a civil RICO matter filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California at Los Angeles.


Outside of the office, Sam is an avid golfer.  He has been a member of the Alpine Country Club for more than 20 years, and currently sits on the Club’s board of directors.  For the unique story of Sam’s family and their migration to Utah, and his path to the legal arena:  Salt Lake Tribune – Sam Alba Utah’s First Latino Judge.