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Draper Journal

Correction: Jerry Enniss was Draper’s first female judge

Jul 03, 2023 09:25AM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

I stand corrected! 

New judge Lisa Garner is NOT Draper’s first female judge. That special status belongs to the Honorable Geraldine “Jerry” Enniss who served as Draper’s Justice Court Judge from 1980-1992. Thank you to Melanie Dansie who kindly brought that fact to this reporter’s attention after reading my March 2023 article “Two firsts in Draper’s court: First female judge and her first time behind the bench.” 

“We moved to Draper in 1979 and Jerry was the judge then, before Daniel Bertch. She was a relative of my husband,” Dansie said. 

Born in 1923, Enniss trained as a Civil Air Patrol in WWII and was proprietor, along with her husband John, of Jerry’s Café in Sandy and Draper. 

She was appointed by the city council to be justice court judge before being an attorney was a requirement for that position. “Common sense comes first in justice court,” Enniss is quoted as saying. 

Enniss primarily heard traffic offenses, including from the portion of interstate that runs through city limits. She also heard small claims cases. Because of the small-town nature of Draper, she occasionally had to recuse herself from judging if she knew or was related to some of the people involved. 

“I like to believe in people until they prove me wrong,” Enniss is quoted as saying. 

A 1992 Deseret News article about Enniss quotes then City Manager Andrew Hatton-Ward as saying, “She was so concerned with individuals.” The article said Enniss was known for her empathy, including a willingness to set up payment schedules for people. The article noted that the city’s caseload was usually fairly small, allowing the justice of the peace time for eye-to-eye contact with the people appearing before her in court. “You can tell a lot about people by looking into their eyes,” Enniss is quoted as saying. “It’s hard to find out everyone is not as honest as I’d want them to be,” she also said. 

Enniss was asked to step down from her position of justice court judge because of her age after serving the city for 12 years, but her impact didn’t end there. According to her obituary, she loved walking and the beauty of nature and she had a lifelong desire to walk the state of Utah from end to end. She was also said to have “a tremendous love of children.”  

So, in 1995 at the age of 73, she walked from Cornish to St. George (north to south) for a total of 450 miles, all while pushing a 70-pound cart, to raise funds for the cause of justice for children. “She walked 13.5 miles a day, wore out two pairs of shoes and dealt with blisters. She walked 32 days in rain, wind and searing heat to bring attention to the needs of children and for the Children’s Justice Center,” her obituary said. The very next year, she walked the state east to west from Vernal to Wendover. In doing so, she raised more than $6,000 to help youth in custody and abused children. 

Enniss last worked as a volunteer coordinator and mentor at the Salt Lake Detention Center, but she left that position because of declining health. She died in 2011 at the age of 88.  

Jonna Crump has worked in Draper’s Justice Court for more than 30 years. She’s now the city’s Court Manager. Crump spent her first year in Draper working for Enniss. “Judge Enniss loved Draper. As a judge, she was fair and just. She listened to all the sides of a case and then gave her decision. She loved her family and especially her grandchildren. She was very active. While in her late 60s she still went hiking and snow skiing. I enjoyed working with Jerry, she was a great friend. She taught me so much about the court system,” Crump said. “But more importantly, Jerry taught me you can be in a position of authority and still be kind and respectful to everyone.” λ