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SALT LAKE CITY – Now that the oral arguments in the Utah field of membership lawsuit have wrapped up (after an hour and 40 minutes on Oct. 7), all the interested parties can do is sit and wait. CUNA General Counsel Eric Richard, who attended the hearing with a number of other credit union industry representatives, said that the bankers essentially made the same arguments they have in their briefs: that NCUA’s approval of the six-county field of membership for Tooele Federal Credit Union, and subsequently three others, was “arbitrary and capricious and contrary to the standard of law.” The other credit unions involved include America First Federal Credit Union, Goldenwest Federal Credit Union and University of Utah Federal Credit Union. Each of these credit unions, plus CUNA, NAFCU, and the Utah League of Credit Unions intervened to join NCUA as defendants in the case. The plaintiffs include the American Bankers Association, the Utah Bankers Association, Bank of Utah, Liberty Bank, First Utah Bank and Frontier Bank, FSB. Under questioning from U.S. District Judge for the District of Utah Central Division Dale A. Kimball, the bankers’ attorney admitted a proper remedy could be to send the issue back to NCUA for review. The judge did not provide a timeframe for his decision, Richard said, adding, “People here who know this judge have told me it will likely be in the next 90 days.” NCUA’s U.S. Attorney’s office lawyer, Jeffrey Nelson, argued that there were “many layers of support,” Richard explained and that the bankers picking on one issue should not impact the outcome. The intervenors’ attorney, Paul Lambert, added that this is not a demographic exercise but a questioning of NCUA’s expertise in determining what a community is for a credit union. Observers indicated that the judge had not shown any leanings as to how he would rule. NAFCU Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bill Donovan commented, “We certainly believe, based on the arguments presented to the court and based on existing law there’s a very strong likelihood the judge will affirm NCUA’s action in approving the six-county field of membership.” However, ABA General Counsel Dawn Causey was more reserved in her remarks following the oral arguments. “We would not presume to predict outcomes after giving oral arguments in a case. All we can say is the judge asked good questions of both parties, we’re pleased with our arguments and we look forward to the judge’s ruling.” Given that NCUA approved Tooele’s field of membership 2-1 over NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz’ objection and Matz is one of just two remaining board members, this could raise the issue of whether NCUA can move on it. “That’s an issue that will only be resolved when and if a remand takes place,” Donovan said. He added, “There’s a strong likelihood we’ll never get to that point.” Richard said if the decision is remanded to NCUA, the intervenor-defendants are unsure if they could or would pursue an appeal at that time. [email protected]

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