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Zelig v. Uintah County – RTD, 2014 UT App 69 (Mar. 27, 2014) 

Mar 27, 2014

The Utah Court of Appeals clarified that if an expert witness is appointed by a juvenile court, the juvenile court is the proper forum to decide the reasonableness of the expert’s fees and which party is responsible for paying such fees. Specifically, in a termination of parental rights proceeding, the juvenile court appointed an expert custody evaluator and ordered Uintah County to pay the expert’s fees. The County did not object at the time, but after trial challenged the reasonableness of the expert’s fees in the juvenile court. The expert later filed suit against the County in the district court to recover his fees. The County argued the proceeding should be heard in the juvenile court, but the district court disagreed and ordered the County to pay the expert’s fees. On appeal, the Court of Appeals sided with the County, holding that “the court that heard the underlying case and appointed the expert in the first place was the appropriate court to determine the reasonableness of the work.”