Samuel Alba

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  • FAX: 801.363.0400
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  • LEGAL ASSISTANT: Karen Johnson

Samuel Alba leads the firm’s Criminal Defense Practice Group and SCM’s Snow Trial Services team.  He focuses on the defense of complex commercial and white-collar criminal cases in both state and federal courts.

Sam offers clients a unique skill level gained as a judge, a prosecutor, a public defender and a lawyer in private practice.  Because of this broad experience, he can readily assess a case from all perspectives. Sam works proactively with prosecutorial and investigative agencies to prevent criminal charges from being filed against clients – shielding them from significant damages to their bottom lines and reputations.

Sam joined the firm after 20 years as a well-respected federal magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court, District of Utah.  He was the State’s first Latino federal judge.  In this capacity, he oversaw a wide range of high-profile cases, including the Olympic bribery scandal, the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, the theft of ancient artifacts from federal lands, the deaths of two children exposed to toxic pesticide, and many more.

In 2010, Sam presided over the Phillips Electrical v. BC Technical case, which involved claims of copyright infringement, trademark infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets.

As a magistrate judge, Sam was instrumental in securing a significant expansion of powers for magistrate judges in Utah.  He was co-chair of the building committee that oversaw construction of the new Federal Court House in Salt Lake City – a state-of-the-art facility that offers vastly improved convenience and security for the public, court staff, judges and prisoners.

Prior to his judgeship, Sam prosecuted a wide range of criminal cases as the first assistant, and chief of the criminal section, at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah.  He also worked for the Federal Public Defenders office in Arizona and for two law firms, where he represented a number of clients.

For more information on Sam Alba's practice click here.

Representative Matters

Defending Utah’s former Attorney General. Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff was arrested and charged with ten felonies -- including receiving or soliciting bribes, accepting gifts, tampering with witnesses and evidence, and participating in a pattern of unlawful conduct.  Shurtleff steadfastly asserts his innocence.  Sam is a member of the SCM team defending Shurtleff against these allegations.  In this highly publicized ongoing case, the firm has succeeded so far in separating Shurtleff’s case from that of his successor, John Swallow.  In addition, the firm successfully fought subpoenas demanding that Shurtleff testify in the Marc Sessions Jenson communications fraud trial.

Defending bicycle manufacturer against trademark infringement lawsuit.  Representing a global bicycle manufacturer and distributor sued in Utah District Court for trademark infringement.  Plaintiff is a Utah company that manufactures wheels, forks, seat posts, handlebars and stems along with composite tubes for custom bicycle frame builders.  Sam is a member of the SCM team defending the bicycle manufacturer against these allegations.

Defending global drug manufacturer in UtahRepresenting a global healthcare manufacturer of prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products.  One of the client’s painkillers was associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and the manufacturer stopped selling the drug and agreed to pay a settlement (which was not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing).  The manufacturer retained Sam and others in the firm for representation in Utah against related product liability lawsuits.

Defending a limited liability company in a civil RICO matter filed in the Central District of California at Los Angeles.

Presentations & Publications

  • Speaker, Difference between being white and non white in the USA today, Project for Deeper Understanding - public forum, September 2016
    Speaker, Benefit of using trial prep consulting services for significant cases, Utah State Bar Summer Convention, July 2016
  • Speaker, “Attorney/Client Privilege in Discovery,” 9th Annual Federal Bar Association’s Criminal Law Seminar, 2015
  • Speaker, “Ethical Issues in Criminal Representation,” Fall 2014 Annual CJA/FPD Seminar
  • Speaker, “The Changing Face of Law in Latin America,” Utah State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series, 2010

Sam is a frequent presenter and author on a number of issues relating to federal evidence. He has conducted many presentations for the Tenth Circuit Judicial Conference Judges’ Meetings and as a judge for the Utah State Bar on a variety of topics including civility and trial practice issues.

Professional & Civic Involvement

  • Utah Bar Association - Civility and Professionalism Committee
  • Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Construction of the Utah Federal Courthouse - Co-chair Building Committee
  • Alpine Country Club - Board of Directors
  • Committee for Defenders Services, Representative appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist, 2003-2009

Honors / Awards / Unique Recognition

  • Recipient of Daughters of the American Revolution's "Americanism Award", 2017
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America® for Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2015
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Utah State University, 2013
  • Recognized as Utah Legal Elite in Criminal Law, by Utah Business Magazine
  • Distinguished Service to the Utah State Bar Award, 2012
  • Recognized in Latinos in Utah, 2009
  • Honored as one of the First 50 Minority Lawyers in Utah, by the Utah Minority Bar Association, 2005


Outside of the office, Sam is an avid golfer.  He has been a member of the Alpine Country Club for more than 20 years, and currently sits on the Club’s board of directors.  For the unique story of Sam’s family and their migration to Utah, and his path to the legal arena:  Salt Lake Tribune - Sam Alba Utah's First Latino Judge.