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Eye On Boise

Idaho Supreme Court ruling raises fears about access to justice, has lawmakers concerned

Chief Justice Jim Jones, left, and Justice Roger Burdick, right, listen to arguments in a recent case at the Idaho Supreme Court in Boise (Betsy Z. Russell)
Chief Justice Jim Jones, left, and Justice Roger Burdick, right, listen to arguments in a recent case at the Idaho Supreme Court in Boise (Betsy Z. Russell)

Idaho’s Supreme Court, in a divided 3-2 ruling, has launched the state’s court system on a new track in which most Idahoans who lose in court would have to pay the winning side’s attorney fees – even if they far exceed the amount at stake in the case in the first place.

Justice Roger Burdick, in a dissent, said the ruling will “further inhibit access to justice and tilt the table even further toward moneyed interests in our courts,” and will “chill litigation.”

The justices set a March 1, 2017 start date for the new attorney-fees rule. That gives the Idaho Legislature, which convenes in January, a chance to change the law before it takes effect – and several attorney-lawmakers say they’re already looking at possible changes. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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