The Senate has voted unanimously, 35-0, to approve House-passed legislation to add three more district judges to the state court system, sending HB 29 to the governor’s desk. “This bill is a top priority of the court,” Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, told the Senate. “It is a bill that will greatly benefit the citizens of Idaho. It is one that will also help us fill a continual obligation that we share with the 3rdbranch of government, and that obligation is to provide access to justice for every person through timely, fair and impartial resolution of cases.”
The three new judges, with chambers in Canyon, Ada and Jefferson counties, would start work on Oct. 1, 2013. Lodge said Idaho has 42 district judges, and has added only three since 2000, a 7 percent increase, though the state’s population grew by more than 23 percent since then. “The volume and complexity of cases has increased at least as much,” she said.
Lodge said the Idaho court system has deferred requests for additional judges for the past five years due to the state’s budget crunch, leaving the courts to rely on senior judges to help keep up with the caseload. Now, she said, it’s time to “fulfill the constitutional obligation.” Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said, “The need is real.”