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Posts tagged: U.S. District Court

Want to be a federal district judge? Senators looking for possible nominees

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are asking people interested in becoming Idaho’s next federal district judge – replacing longtime U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge when he takes senior status next summer – to fill out a questionnaire and send it in to their offices. “We’ve had some interest,” said Lindsay Nothern, spokesman for Crapo.

President Barack Obama will name the next judge, and there's no guarantee he'll pick the Idaho GOP senators' nominee, but the Senate does confirm the choice and generally defers to the state's Senate delegation on the pick. Crapo's office says the ideal nominee would be someone “amenable to both parties.” It's a lifetime appointment.

Lodge, Idaho’s longest serving judge ever, will take senior status on July 3, 2015; between his state and federal service, he’s been on the bench more than 50 years. Idaho hasn’t had a new federal district judge appointed since 1995, when current U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill was named to the court. He succeeded the late U.S. District Judge Harold Ryan, who took senior status in 1992.

Typically, the highest-ranking member of Idaho’s congressional delegation who is of the same party as the president would play a key role in the nomination, but Idaho doesn’t have any Democrats in its delegation; Crapo and Risch both are Republicans. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Judge Lodge to take senior status in July, Idaho to see first new federal district judge appointed in two decades

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge will leave active service and take senior status on July 3, 2015, the courts announced today; that means the longtime judge will continue to hear cases, but his position will open and a new district judge will be appointed for Idaho. Lodge’s successor must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Lodge has notified the president and Idaho’s congressional delegation of his intention to take senior status. He is the longest serving active district judge in the history of the Idaho district; between his state and federal judicial career, he has served on the bench for more than 50 years.

“It has been and continues to be an incredible privilege to serve on the same court with Judge Ed Lodge,” said Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill. “His judicial legacy is simply unmatched in Idaho's history.   His experience, his judicial temperament, his wisdom, and his thoughtfulness make him the standard by which all other judges must be measured.  Fortunately, Judge Lodge's decision to take senior status means that the District of Idaho will, for many years, continue to be blessed by his unmatched ability and skill as a jurist.”

Senior status allows a judge to continue to serve, while reducing his or her caseload over time. Lodge will continue to maintain chambers and staff in Boise.

Idaho hasn’t had a new federal district judge appointed since 1995, when Winmill was named to the court. He succeeded the late U.S. District Judge Harold Ryan, who took senior status in 1992. Said Elizabeth “Libby” Smith, clerk of the court for the district, “This is pretty big news for Idaho.”

Idaho court official honored for encouraging alternative dispute resolution

An Idaho federal court official has been honored by the Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit for encouraging alternative ways of settling legal disputes, short of full-blown court trials. Susie Boring-Headlee, Alternative Dispute Resolution coordinator for the U.S. District Court in Idaho, has been awarded the Robert F. Peckham Award for ADR Excellence by the 9th Circuit, for her work promoting ADR in both the state and federal courts. She's served as a presenter and panelist at ADR workshops for judges; arranged for training of mediators in conjunction with the University of Idaho College of Law; organized “settlement week” programs at the district court; and worked with IT staff to ease the handling of ADR procedures in the court's electronic case filing system. The 9th Circuit also recognized McGeorge Law School in this year's awards; you can see their full announcement here.

Senate bill would give Idaho another U.S. District judgeship

Idaho would get a new U.S. District Court judgeship, under legislation introduced yesterday in the U.S. Senate. The Federal Judgeship Act of 2013, introduced by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Delaware, chairman of the judiciary subcommittee on bankruptcy and the courts, is based on recommendations from the Judicial Conference of the United States, the national governing body for the federal courts, and would create 91 new federal judgeships across 21 states to ease caseloads.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals welcomed the bill, saying many of the nation’s most overburdened federal courts are in western states. In addition to the new district judgeship in Idaho, the bill would add two in Seattle, one in Nevada plus a temporary position, one temporary judgeship in Oregon, and more than two dozen in California. There's more info here.

Judge Lodge marks 50 years on the bench

From the Ruby Ridge standoff to tribal ownership of Lake Coeur d’Alene, from Claude Dallas to Sami al-Hussayen, from mining damage in the Coeur d’Alene Basin to the death penalty trial of child-killer Joseph Duncan, one judge presided. That judge, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, is now the longest-serving judge in Idaho history, marking 50 years on the bench, a milestone few judges achieve. “He has been so involved in the judicial fabric of the state of Idaho, both on the federal court and the state court,” said Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones. “He sets a high standard for all the rest of us.”

Lodge, 79, was the Idaho’s youngest state district judge when he was appointed in 1965; he’d already served two years as a probate court judge, but was just four years out of law school at the University of Idaho. He became a federal bankruptcy judge in 1988, and a U.S. district judge in 1989. Over his career, he’s said to have presided over more murder trials than any other judge in Idaho. He’s the only judge in the state to preside over two of those at once – in a 1983 case in which Lodge juggled two juries in the courtroom at once, as he tried two co-defendants for raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl. And his landmark ruling that the Coeur d’Alene Tribe owned the southern third of Lake Coeur d’Alene was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It has been a great learning experience and an opportunity to deal with issues and problems that you would never be confronted with in any other occupation,” Lodge said. “There is a lot of satisfaction in working out problems and deciding issues that others have not been able to solve.” The U.S. District Court and the Bar will host a celebration marking Lodge’s 50 years on the bench on July 31 at 3 p.m.; you can read my full story here from Sunday's Spokesman-Review.

Powder struggle: Snowmobilers, back-country skiers battle in court

A backcountry skier advocacy group, the Winter Wildlands Alliance, has filed suit in federal court, asking a judge to order the U.S. Forest Service to create plans for snowmobiles limiting their travel on public land, the Associated Press reports. “One snowmobile can track up an area in an hour that a dozen skiers could use for two weeks,” said Alliance Director Mark Menlove. “It is a competition for a limited resource. Beyond untracked powder, we also think that quiet is a forest resource that should be managed.”

Snowmobile groups have lined up with the Forest Service opposing the move, saying there's enough forest to go around for everyone. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Federal judges in Idaho face swelling caseload

Idaho's two U.S. District Court judges are juggling three times the caseloads of federal judges in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and Alaska, and each of those states has three federal judges, instead of two, the Idaho Business Review reports. In fact, the state's population has more than doubled since Congress last approved an additional federal district judgeship here. Click below for a full report from the Business Review and the Associated Press.

Artifact hunter sentenced for federal crime

A 60-year-old Arco woman has been sentenced to federal probation and restitution for unauthorized excavation of archaeological resources, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Roxanne Hale was given three years probation for the federal crime, ordered to pay $9,265 in restitution, and prohibited from being present at any public-lands archaeological sites. Her artifacts and sifting and digging tools were confiscated. Hale, who pled guilty to the charges in March, was caught Sept. 12, 2008 in the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Butte County, digging at a designated archaeological site that contains remains of prehistoric human life and activity. The case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service.

Minnick: Idaho needs a 3rd federal judge

Idaho needs a third federal district judge, according to Congressman Walt Minnick, who notes that the state hadn’t gotten an additional judgeship in 56 years. “We have two judges serving two or three times as many people per capita as our neighboring states,” Minnick said today. “It’s wearing out our judges. … We have a better case for a new federal judge than just about anybody in the country.” Minnick is introducing legislation in Congress today, with Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson as the co-sponsor, to give Idaho a third judgeship. “We’ll be looking for opportunities to attach it to something that’s moving, so hopefully we can break this logjam,” Minnick said. “I don’t think there’s any opposition on the merits.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Burke takes national court post

Cameron Burke, who has served as court executive for the U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts in Idaho for the past 18 years, has accepted a new position working with federal courts across the country. Burke will become a federal court financial management liaison, working for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington, D.C., and also maintaining an office in Boise. He’s worked for the federal courts in Idaho for the past 24 years, and before that served as a chief deputy clerk in Arizona and a trial court administrator in Oregon. He holds a master’s degree in judicial administration from Denver College of the Law; he is a past president of the Federal Court Clerks Association and has served on numerous court management boards and committees.

Volunteer firefighter convicted of arson

A former volunteer firefighter from Parma is headed to federal prison for six years, for six felony counts of setting fires on public land. Clyde Dewayne Holmes Jr., 23, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill to 72 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, plus more than $155,000 in restitution. A jury found Holmes guilty of arson in January; it’s the first federal jury trial, conviction and sentencing of an arsonist on BLM land in Idaho.

The six different fires he set, in July and August of 2007, all were ignited shortly after he got off work; during his trial, physical evidence including tire and boot prints, cell phone records and eyewitness accounts tied him to the fires, which burned 1,200 acres of public and private lands in Payette and Canyon counties. Holmes himself reported two of the blazes, though he didn’t identify himself when he called them in. “This case is especially reprehensible because it involved a deliberate action by a person who was trained and trusted to protect our public lands and our citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Tom Moss.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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