Jody Burnett is a shareholder with the firm. He focuses his practice on the representation of governmental entities throughout Utah, primarily cities and counties, in the areas of land use and zoning, eminent domain, and related constitutional and civil rights claims.
Jody’s experience in land use and zoning law is well-recognized. Over the course of his career, he has represented governments in many cases of first impression -- including more than 60 reported appellate decisions. He enjoys using his legal skills to make a contribution to significant public policy issues.
Jody identifies closely with the local governmental entities that he represents. Before attending law school, he earned an undergraduate degree in political science. He understands the responsibilities and risks of public service – and highly respects those who choose this path.
Because of his experience in land use and zoning law, Jody is often asked to speak to groups of local government elected officials and employees – especially city attorneys.
Before joining the firm, Jody was a long-time partner at Salt Lake law firm Williams & Hunt. Following law school, he served a four-year tour of active duty with the U.S. Army as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Presentations & Publications
- Speaker, Update on Land Use and Zoning Issues, Utah Municipal Attorney’s Association annual meeting in St. George, May 2018
- Speaker, Impact Fees and Development Exactions, Utah Land Use Institute Fall Conference, 2017
- Speaker, The Ongoing Evolution of Land Use Regulation in Utah, Utah Land Use Institute Fall Conference, 2017
- Speaker, Land Use Issues, Utah Municipal Attorneys Association, Spring Conference, May 2017
Professional & Civic Involvement
American Bar Association
Watkiss-Sutherland Inn of the American Inns of Court
Utah Legal Services
And Justice for All
Utah State University, Board of Trustees
Honors / Awards / Unique Recognition
- Recognized as a Utah Super Lawyer by Super Lawyer Magazine
- Recognized as Utah Legal Elite by Utah Business Magazine
- Rated by Martindale-Hubbell® Peer review as AV® Preeminent™ 4.9 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.
Utah Supreme Court defines “standard of review” for legislative decisions
Property owners in Payson City applied to rezone property from low-density residential/agricultural use to high-density residential use. When the city council denied their application, the property owners filed a lawsuit. In this case, Jody Burnett defended the City. This important case, which revolved around the question of “standard of review,” ended up in the Utah Supreme Court -- which ruled for Jody’s client. The Court determined that legislative land use decisions (like those of a city council) are valid so long as they are reasonably debatable.
Water impact fee case before Utah Supreme Court
In a case that may have far-reaching effects throughout the State of Utah, Jody Burnett currently represents the Washington County Water Conservancy District in a lawsuit challenging impact fees for water facilities. An appeal focusing on level of service has been argued before the Utah Supreme Court; a decision in this case is pending.
Assisting local governments with development agreements
Utah local governments often turn to Jody Burnett for assistance in negotiating development agreements – whether these involve the resolution of historical disputes or the implementation of new zoning designations, such as mixed-used developments.
Jody is a member of the board of trustees of Utah State University. He is a member and past chair of the board of “And Justice for All” – an organization committed to providing access to civil legal services for the State’s most vulnerable citizens. He is also a board member and past chair of Utah Legal Services, one of the three primary service providers under the AJ4A umbrella.
Jody currently serves as the president of the board of Bear Lake Watch – an organization devoted to keeping Bear Lake “clean, deep and blue.”
Outside of the office, Jody enjoys a variety of outdoor activities with his wife Dione -- including skiing, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking and white-water rafting. In quieter moments, he likes to read fiction and nonfiction.