May 24, 2007 in Idaho

In her words: Idaho Supreme Court Justice Linda Copple Trout

The Spokesman-Review

Here’s what Idaho Supreme Court Justice Linda Copple Trout had to say on an array of issues:

Women on the court: “I’m very hopeful that minorities will continue to be represented on the court, in gender, nationality, race. … I think the court is at its best when it reflects the population it serves, and diversity is an important part of that.”

Water rights: Trout said when she changed her vote – swinging a 3-2 decision in favor of federal reserved water rights to a 3-2 decision against them on reconsideration – she did so because of new information. “There were questions about whether I was doing that just to save my job,” she said. “I can say that did not factor in.”

School funding lawsuit: “The Legislature has not carried out its responsibilities (regarding funding for school construction). … They have the constitutional duty. We have articulated that for them. They need to do what is necessary in order to carry out that responsibility.”

Court records online: “I think we’ll go more and more to that, so that we’re much more accessible, we’re much more transparent in terms of a citizen’s ability to go online and look at a case and look at the pleadings and look at a judge’s decision and all of those things. And I think that can only help us.”

Cameras in the courtroom: “I watch the nightly news and I’ll see a clip of a judge and I think, that is wonderful, in part because the public gets to see the process in a way that they can relate to. … They can actually see the defendant, for example, being sentenced. … It gives the public a more accurate view than some of the programs that they might watch on TV.”

Changes in the courts: Idaho’s courts have seen a “dramatic increase” in cases involving land-use issues in the past 10 years, and Trout expects that to continue. Water issues also remain a major challenge for the courts. Plus, new ways of resolving disputes are emerging, along with approaches such as drug and mental health courts.

– Betsy Z. Russell

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