Washington, DC (July 26, 2016) – Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (UACDL) Executive Director and Past President Kent R. Hart is reported to have slipped and fallen into a waterfall while hiking in Hallingdal, Norway late Sunday. According to news reports, significant efforts to find Kent have been underway, but his son Evan said that the family was told by officials that it was unlikely that Kent survived the fall.
"There are simply no words for such a tragedy," said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) Executive Director Norman L. Reimer. "Through his tireless work for many years as a public defender to his steadfast commitment to advocating for a more fair and humane criminal justice system, Kent has always set an example for his peers to emulate. In addition to his splendid work on behalf of Utah's criminal defense bar, Kent has been a powerful and eloquent voice for reform on the national stage. On behalf of the nation's criminal defense bar, Kent's brothers and sisters in the important work to which he has dedicated his career, I extend our deepest concern for Kent's and his family's well-being."
UACDL's website offers this profile of Kent Hart:
Kent R. Hart is a native of Salt Lake County and a graduate of Granger High School. He graduated from the University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law in 1992. After graduation, he worked until 1996 as a staff attorney at the Nevada Supreme Court, where he was in charge of all pro se appeals. He then accepted a year-long position as an appellate attorney for the Nevada State Public Defender in Carson City. From 1998 to 1999, Mr. Hart worked in New York City for a non-profit agency as a criminal appellate defense attorney. In 1999, Mr. Hart returned to Utah and worked in the appeals division of the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association until 2005. Since then, Mr. Hart has been employed at the Utah Federal Defender Office, where he has served as an appellate attorney and a capital/habeas corpus specialist.
In 2009, the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers ("UACDL") hired Mr. Hart as its half-time Executive Director. He had previously served as UACDL's president from 2006 to 2007. Mr. Hart now splits his time between overseeing UACDL's daily operations and practicing appellate/habeas corpus law for the Federal Defender. UACDL is a non-profit association of over 500 criminal defense lawyers throughout the State of Utah. As director, Mr. Hart plans legal education seminars, participates in the group's lobbying efforts, coordinates law suits that target violations of fundamental constitutional rights, and represents the organization on policy-making boards and committees. In 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah awarded Mr. Hart its annual Mickey Duncan Award for outstanding service in defense of civil liberties. Then, in 2012, the Utah Minority Bar Association honored him with the Jimi Mitsunaga Award for Excellence in Criminal Law.
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.