Posts tagged: judges
Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Prosecutors and defense attorneys in Idaho will be barred from disqualifying judges from criminal cases without giving a reason first. The Idaho Supreme Court has suspended a rule that had allowed prosecutors or defense attorneys to disqualify a judge “without cause.” The state high court ruled late last month that the rule had been used excessively and abused. The Idaho Mountain Express reports that a judge in Idaho’s 5th District, Robert J. Elgee, had been the target of numerous disqualifications based on the rule. Elgee had petitioned the Idaho Supreme Court to suspend and modify the rule in 2009, but was rebuffed by justices at the time.
Gov. Butch Otter named Caldwell attorney Susan Wiebe as a 3rd District judge today, and picked Bannock County Magistrate Judge Robert Naftz of Pocatello for a 6th District judgeship. Weibe succeeds retiring 3rd District Judge Stephen Drescher, and Naftz succeeds retiring 6th District Judge Peter McDermott. You can click below to read Otter’s full press release on the appointments.
The candidates for the judgeships were screened by the Idaho Judicial Council, which selected three finalists, two lawyers and a magistrate judge, for the 3rd District position from among four applicants; and four finalists for the 6th District position from among eight applicants, seven lawyers and one magistrate judge. The Judicial Council, which screens and recommends potential new judges to the governor, is busy these days. The council is mulling eight applications for the 1st District judgeship that’ll be vacated by the retirement of Judge Charles Hosack in Kootenai County, and nine for the 5th District judge opening created by the pending retirement of Judge Barry Wood. Plus, it’s taking applications through Sept. 28 for another 5th District judge opening in Minidoka County, created by Otter’s appointment of 5th District John John Melanson to the Court of Appeals, effective Sept. 30.
Judges are elected in Idaho, but most leave office before the end of their terms, in which case the Idaho Judicial Council screens candidates and the governor appoints the new judge, who then can run for re-election as an incumbent at the end of his or her term on the bench.
Gov. Butch Otter has named 5th District Judge John Michael Melanson to the Idaho Court of Appeals, to fill the vacancy that will occur when Appeals Court Judge Darrel R. Perry retires on Sept. 30. Melanson, 61, has been a district judge in Minidoka County for the past eight years, and previously served as a magistrate judge in Lincoln County for six years. He practiced law in Buhl for 13 years before that. Said Otter, “I have tremendous confidence in John and the reputation that he carries into this new appointment.”
Melanson was one of four candidates recommended to Otter by the Idaho Judicial Council; the other finalists were Kent A. Hawkins, Michael A. Henderson and Molly J. Huskey. Twelve people applied for the opening, including two judges and 10 lawyers.The Judicial Council in Idaho handles both screening for selection when a judge leaves office before the end of a term, and discipline of judges; the discipline part takes place in strict secrecy, except when a case goes all the way to the Idaho Supreme Court. Only two ever have, including one that’s now pending; click here to read my Sunday package on the current case, involving 2nd District Judge John Bradbury, and the light it’s shining on the council’s operations.