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SupCourt says I.F. needs vote for BPA power agreement, cites Frazier decision

The Idaho Supreme Court, in a 3-2 decision, has overturned a lower-court ruling that the city of Idaho Falls’ long-term agreement to purchase power from the BPA was an “ordinary and necessary” expense and therefore didn’t require a vote of the people; Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman appealed the district court’s order. Justice Roger Burdick wrote the majority opinion, in which justices Dan Eismann and Joel Horton concurred; Justice Jim Jones wrote the dissent, in which Justice Pro-Tem Wayne Kidwell concurred. In his dissent, Jones wrote that the city of Idaho Falls has been providing electrical power for a century, so acquiring power was part of its ordinary activities, “to carry on an on-going and long-standing municipal service,” rather than a new venture creating special indebtedness.

Burdick, in the majority opinion, wrote that under the court’s earlier Frazier decision, the power purchase agreement, which wouldn’t have taken effect until Oct. 1, 2011, wasn’t urgent, so there was time for a public vote. You can read the court’s decision and dissent here.

Anti-Bradbury Group Hit w/Record Fine

Item: Idaho group receives highest-ever fine for campaign finance disclosure violation/Katy Moeller, Idaho Statesman

More Info: Two eastern Idaho groups who opposed the election of Idaho Supreme Court candidate John Bradbury and put out last-minute newspaper ads and mailers blasting the judge have been fined for failure to meet campaign finance disclosure requirements. One received a $1,300 fine, the largest fine ever imposed in Idaho for violation of so-called Sunshine Laws, which aim to shed light on where candidates are receiving their financial backing. The maximum fine is $2,500.

Question: Do you think a $1300 fine — or lesser ones — is a deterrent to a group that wants to circulate a last-minute attack ad or mailing against a candidate? Should the fines be increased?

Campaign attack groups fined for Sunshine Law violations

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa has announced fines against two groups that launched last-minute campaign attacks against an Idaho Supreme Court candidate without following the disclosure requirements of the state’s Sunshine Law. “Idaho Citizens for Justice” is being fined $1,300, and “Idaho Citizens for Commonsense Solutions” is being fined $600; the latter group provided half the funding for the former, which paid for nearly $40,000 in ads and fliers attacking Judge John Bradbury and touting sitting Justice Roger Burdick, against whom Bradbury was running in last week’s election; Burdick won. Once the two groups were contacted by the state and belatedly filed the required disclosures, it emerged that all the funding for both came from Melaleuca Inc., a personal-care products firm in eastern Idaho headed by conservative activist Frank VanderSloot.

The fines are for failure to file timely notice of the formation of the groups and of the last-minute independent campaign expenditures before the election, Ysursa said. “Timely pre-election disclosure is the key to the Sunshine Law,” he said. In letters to the two groups, Ysursa wrote, “One purpose of the Sunshine Law, as stated in I.C. 67-6601, is ‘to promote openness in government and avoiding secrecy by those giving financial support to state election campaigns…’ The Secretary of State is charged with enforcement of this law, and we take that charge seriously.”

Court Rejects Chateau de Loire, Too

Item: High court rejects luxury Chateau de Loire development: Ruling likely means end of housing and golf project on east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene/Alison Boggs, SR

More Info: The long saga of a French-themed, luxury housing development proposed for the eastern side of Lake Coeur d’Alene appears to have come to an end. On Wednesday, the Idaho Supreme Court shot down the Chateau de Loire development, upholding a Kootenai County 1st District Court decision. The Kootenai County Board of Commissioners had twice denied the project, which was to include an 18-hole golf course and 500-unit residential housing community on 578 acres near the entrance to Beauty Bay State Park.

Question: Are you glad that Kootenai County shot down this development? Or do you think there’s room for another luxury-development-golf course on Lake Coeur d’Alene?

SupCourt: Requirement was OK under Idaho law, but violated U.S. Constitution

The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled that an Idaho state law authorized a state magistrate judge to order random drug tests of the parents of a youngster who was placed on juvenile probation for two counts of petit theft, but that the requirement violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The parents “do not have a diminished expectation of privacy in their bodies simply because their daughter is on juvenile probation,” the court held in a unanimous opinion authorized by Justice Warren Jones; you can read it here.

The court upheld an earlier ruling by the Idaho Court of Appeals in the case, State v. Doe, and overturned a district court ruling from Kootenai County upholding the urinalysis requirement. Interestingly, the high court’s opinion goes on at length about how there was proper statutory authority for the magistrate to order the tests under Idaho state law, in part because “drug use by a minor’s parents could reasonably detract from the minor’s education and rehabilitation.” But then, it notes, there’s that constitutional problem.

Burdick Winning Justice Seat Easily

Supreme Court Justice
 NONJohn Bradbury17,68137.8%To succeed Roger Burdick
 NONRoger Burdick29,14362.2%To succeed Roger Burdick

VanderSloot: ‘I’m sure we’ll be beat up on mercilessly’

Here’s a link to my full story on the last-minute campaign attack launched over the weekend against Judge John Bradbury and in favor of Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick, whom Bradbury is challenging. The entire $38,000 effort was funded by Melaleuca Inc., the Idaho Falls personal-care products firm headed by eastern Idaho conservative activist Frank VanderSloot. VanderSloot told Eye on Boise that he was “embarrassed” that the proper disclosure paperwork wasn’t filed by two PACs that handled the effort. A major funder of numerous political campaigns, who four years ago helped defeat a sitting judge in his eastern Idaho district after he was unhappy with the judge’s behavior in a case involving his firm, VanderSloot said, “We’ve taken a role over the last 10 years or so, but we’ve always done it in the open. … I’m embarrassed I gave my money to someplace that hadn’t done the paperwork right.”

VanderSloot said so far this calendar year, he and his wife, Belinda, have made $70,800 in political contributions, including $60,800 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee on May 17. Meanwhile, through Melaleuca, he’s donated $54,750 to various Idaho campaigns and PACs, plus another $29,500 to the Committee to Elect Meg Whitman, a Republican candidate for governor of California. VanderSloot said he’s done much of his campaign spending from his company, rather than personally, because of limits on campaign contributions from individuals to candidates, and because he believes businesses and corporations have a right to participate in the political sphere. “Now it’s not popular to do, and I’m sure we’ll be beat up on mercilessly,” VanderSloot said. “That doesn’t bother me. … I think it’s incumbent upon us to do things legally and ethically and honestly, and let the chips fall where they will.”

All the money trails lead to VanderSloot

The group “Idaho Citizens for Justice” has now filed its overdue campaign finance report, and it shows that the group received $38,000 - half from Melaleuca Inc. and half from “Citizens for Commonsense” in Idaho Falls - for its last-minute campaign against Judge John Bradbury and in favor of Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick, whom Bradbury is challenging. “Citizens for Common Sense Solutions,” in turn, is a PAC whose own campaign finance report - also just filed this afternoon, a week after the deadline - shows it received $19,000 in donations, all from Melaleuca - meaning the personal-care products firm owned by Idaho Falls conservative activist Frank VanderSloot is the sole funder of both groups. You can read the Citizens for Justice finance report here, and the Citizens for Common Sense Solutions finance report here.

Jonathan Haines, chairman of the Citizens for Justice group, said he used to work for Melaleuca, but now does marketing and consulting work in Idaho Falls, where he has lived since 2008. Haines said the group has spent its entire $38,000 in contributions on newspaper ads in Boise, Twin Falls and Idaho Falls, sending a statewide mailer, and running radio ads in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls, American Falls, Boise and elsewhere, all targeting Bradbury and touting Burdick. “I didn’t mean to do anything outside of the law, I didn’t mean to do anything that wasn’t kosher,” said Haines, who said he thought he’d filed the required paperwork. “It’s a shame there was a glitch with the paperwork, but the end goal was basically to help educate the electorate and to make them informed, so they can make the informed decision on which judge they can support.”

Unregistered group spent $28K against Bradbury, for Burdick in the past two weeks

The unregistered political group “Idaho Citizens for Justice” has now filed an independent expenditure report with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office showing it’s spent $28,000 in the past two weeks against Judge John Bradbury and in favor of Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick, whom Bradbury is challenging. “They still didn’t file the C1 and the PAC report yet,” said Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst. “We called them about that. They said they’ll be getting that in. But that one will list where the money came from.”

Meanwhile, Frank VanderSloot, owner of Melaleuca Inc. in Idaho Falls, told Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey that he gave $19,000 to the PAC because he feared Bradbury would outspend Burdick (actually, according to campaign finance reports, it’s Burdick who has the bigger campaign warchest for tomorrow’s election). You can read Popkey’s report here.

Group Launches Attack On Bradbury

The mailer and newspaper ad both call Bradbury “a very wealthy liberal judge” and note that he funded his own campaign for the high court two years ago. However, this time around, both candidates are accepting campaign contributions, and Burdick has a substantial fundraising edge. Bradbury has raised $59,789, according to his campaign finance report, including $32,600 of his own money, with the rest coming mostly from individuals. Burdick has raised $80,378, according to his report, including contributions from individuals, law firms and PACs/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Do you suppose this race is so close that those who are backing Burdick are desperate to taint Bradbury? Or is this simply a precautionery attack?

Head of campaign group identified

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office has determined that Jonathan Haines of Idaho Falls, a former employee of Melaleuca Inc., is the chairman of “Idaho Citizens for Justice,” an unregistered group that launched a campaign attack against an Idaho Supreme Court candidate over the weekend. “They’re going to have a report in by noon today,” reported Tim Hurst, chief deputy secretary of state. “He said he’d get the reports in today. … So then we’ll determine what we’re going to do.” The group faces possible fines of up to $50 a day for not filing with the state, plus additional civil penalties; political action committees that raise and spend $500 or more are required to register with the state, disclose their sources of funding, and report all last-minute contributions in the run-up to the election within 48 hours.

Unregistered group launches campaign attack in Idaho Supreme Court race

A group calling itself “Idaho Citizens for Justice” sent out full-color mailings and placed large newspaper advertisements over the weekend touting Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick and criticizing his challenger, 2nd District Judge John Bradbury, but the group hasn’t registered with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office as a political committee or independent campaign, nor has it reported its sources of funding; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. The group’s ads list a Misty Cooper as its treasurer and its mailings list a post office box in Idaho Falls as its headquarters; but at the bottom of its ads, which reproduce a portion of an Idaho State Bar member survey in which members ranked the two high court candidates, the ads say, “For more information contact Dan Black,” and list Black’s phone number and email address at the Idaho State Bar; Black is the communications director for the Idaho State Bar.

“I was surprised to see my name on an ad this weekend in the Idaho Statesman,” Black said this morning. “Of course I gave no permission and no permission was requested to utilize my name.” He noted, “The Idaho State Bar does not make endorsements.” Black noted that an Idaho State Bar press release on the member survey several weeks ago included his contact information; he guessed that the “Citizens for Justice” group just lifted his information along with the survey results. “I am a little concerned,” Black said. “I don’t think it was probably on purpose or nefarious or malicious. I think it was maybe a little lazy, you know, basically to just read their copy a little more carefully.”

The full-color mailer sent out by the group doesn’t include Black’s name or contact information, though it includes the same section from the bar survey results. The group also has new website and a Facebook page, established on May 12, which criticizes Bradbury for comments about abortion in a 1992 legislative campaign and says he has a “troublesome record on law and order issues,” while touting Burdick as a “supporter of open government and a free press;” it lists descriptions of cases and legal citations, including six cases in which Bradbury’s district court rulings were overturned on appeal.

The mailer and newspaper ad both call Bradbury “a very wealthy liberal judge” and note that he funded his own campaign for the high court two years ago. However, this time around, both candidates are accepting campaign contributions, and Burdick has a substantial fundraising edge. Bradbury has raised $59,789, according to his campaign finance report, including $32,600 of his own money, with the rest coming mostly from individuals. Burdick has raised $80,378, according to his report, including contributions from individuals, law firms and PACs.

Burdick said this morning he was unaware of the “Citizens for Justice” group. “I have no idea who or what is going on, absolutely none,” he said. “And nobody in my campaign has worked with that group, I can guarantee you.”

Bradbury said, “Those ads are disgusting. … Not only are they untrue personal attacks, but they’re illegal personal attacks, and if that’s the kind of justice they want on the Supreme Court, they oughta vote for Burdick.”  Bradbury said, “It’s exactly what I expected - I expected personal attacks instead of discussion of the issues. … That’s exactly the kind of campaign they ran against (then-Justice) Cathy Silak when (current Chief Justice Dan) Eismann won.”

He also disputed the claims in the ads. “I’ve been reversed six times, that’s true - but out of how many?” he said. “I think my appellate rate is probably about 90 percent. … I have a lot of trials, judges have trials and have appeals. … I’m proud of what I’ve done. In four of those six cases I was probably right, it’s a matter of opinion - they have the last say.”

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office was scrambling this morning to find out who’s behind the group, which could face fines of up to $50 per day plus civil penalties. “If they’re specifically designated to support or oppose a candidate or measure, then they’re required to become a political committee,” said Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst, if they receive contributions and make expenditures exceeding $500. State law also requires notice to be filed within 48 hours of an independent campaign expenditure. “We’re trying to find out who and what they are,” Hurst said.” Bradbury said he’s heard radio ads sponsored by the group airing in eastern Idaho for the past several weeks.
 

Charges fly in high court race

As Tuesday’s election approaches, charges are flying in the non-partisan contested race for the Idaho Supreme Court. Justice Roger Burdick issued a press release ripping his challenger, 2nd District Judge John Bradbury, for four decisions in criminal matters that were reversed on appeal, saying, “If the appellate courts had adopted Bradbury’s view of the law, Idaho’s death row would have been essentially emptied after 2003 and none of more than a dozen death row inmates could have been resentenced to death.” Bradbury issued a press release blasting Burdick for comments in a debate that Bradbury contends went too far in addressing a water issue that will come before the Supreme Court, saying, “Justice Burdick may very well have exposed himself to disqualification on the very issues that he is trying to use to ride to another term.” Also, current Chief Justice Dan Eismann issued a statement critical of claims made in two Bradbury campaign ads.

The Burdick-Bradbury race is the only contested race for Idaho’s highest court his year; Justice Jim Jones is unopposed for re-election.

Burdick: Activist Courts Yield Poor Results

In his interview with the editorial board of the Idaho Statesman (which can be accessed on that paper’s website), Judge John Bradbury stated that rather than taking the Supreme Court’s approach, he would have sent the case back to the district court to determine how much money was required in order to fix the defective school buildings (a state estimate placed the amount at between $700 million and $1 billion), that he would then have mandated the Legislature to come up with the money and, if it did not make the necessary appropriation, he would hold the Legislature in contempt of court. This is activist approach that would have taken longer to resolve the matter and have produced a constitutional confrontation between the court and the Legislature/Justice Roger Burdick, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you want the courts to rule strictly on the law — or to be somewhat activist?

Burdick: School Suit Got ‘Desired Results’

Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick now says he misspoke when he said in a televised campaign debate that Idaho’s long-standing school funding lawsuit isn’t over. “That was a misstatement,” Burdick told The Spokesman-Review on Monday. “We indicated the case was over.” The end of the drawn-out case, which stretched for 19 years, came in late 2005 after the Idaho Supreme Court ruled the state’s system for funding school construction unconstitutional and ordered the Legislature to fix it, then closed the case without any further action or review of subsequent legislative changes/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

DFO: Some would like judges and justices to be appointed to their posts rather than facing the electorate. Not me. I’m delighted that Burdick has to answer tough questions about the Supreme Court’s handling of the schools lawsuit. Someone should ask him re: the court’s handling of the Sanders Beach controversy, too.

Question: Would you rather see Supreme Court justices elected or appointed?

Burdick speaks out on school lawsuit, says court got ‘desired results’

Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick now says he misspoke when he said in a televised campaign debate that Idaho’s long-standing school funding lawsuit isn’t over. “That was a misstatement,” Burdick told The Spokesman-Review on Monday. “We indicated the case was over.” The end of the drawn-out case, which stretched for 15-plus years, came in late 2005 after the Idaho Supreme Court ruled the state’s system for funding school construction unconstitutional and ordered the Legislature to fix it, then closed the case without any further action or review of subsequent legislative changes.

Burdick’s challenger in his bid for re-election to the court, 2nd District Judge John Bradbury, has been sharply critical of the court’s handling of the case, which he calls the “darkest day in the history of the Idaho Supreme Court.” Bradbury said Monday, “If you take Justice Burdick’s approach, it is up to each branch to decide whether they comply with the Constitution. It’s an incredible, abject abdication of the court’s role.”

Burdick took the issue a step further on Monday, issuing a press release in which he accused Bradbury of advocating an “activist” approach to the issue, and characterized the Idaho Supreme Court’s approach as a “conservative” one that worked. He cited legislation passed in the 2006 legislative session and in an August 2006 special session of the state Legislature, and said between the two, “the court … got the desired results.” You can read my full story here, read Burdick’s press release here, and read a response to Burdick’s press release from Robert Huntley, the former Idaho Supreme Court justice who represented the school districts that sued the state, by clicking here.

Now Jones Won’t Debate Bradbury

Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones has reversed course and decided not to debate Judge John Bradbury over some of Bradbury’s campaign talking points.  Jones had given Bradbury three possible dates for a debate in Boise after Bradbury said he’d meet Jones for a debate “anytime, anywhere” in a Twin Falls Times-News story. Now, Jones said that because of plenty of opposition to Bradbury’s campaign, a debate is no longer needed.  “A Jones-Bradbury debate would serve no purpose at this point and merely distract from an important Supreme Court contest,” Jones told reporters in an email/Brad Iverson-Long, Idaho Reporter. More here.

DFO: I tip my hat to Judge John Bradbury for making the Idaho Supreme Court justices squirm, if for no other reason.

Question: Do you honestly believe that Justice Jones pulled out for the reason he stated (there’s a lot of opposition to Bradbury’s campaign) or because some operative got to him and explained that a debate would help the maverick judge gain more attention?

Marty: High Court Botched School Suit

The (Idaho Supreme Court) has never insisted on a remedy, however. It’s the equivalent of having a judge rule that the other side was wrong in a personal injury lawsuit and then allow them to leave without cutting you a check. The attorney for those schools (in their long-standing lawsuit), former Justice Robert Huntley of Boise, says he was told that the case was “over” and that the court had no intention of moving ahead. Taking the case to the federal courts didn’t resolve the matter. Burdick says the case remains open. … But Huntley, who donated huge sums of money and time to this cause, has run out of both. So there it sits. Nearly two decades of court battles and a Supreme Court ruling that says the state constitution is being violated. Noble words. No deeds/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do you agree w/Marty Trillhaase that Judge John Bradbury is right and Justice Roger Burdick is wrong re: how the Idaho Supreme Court handled the long-running schools lawsuit?

The difference between north and south…

What’s the difference between North Idaho and southern Idaho? Well, there’s that whole water thing. This is Lake Coeur d’Alene this morning, amid country that’s so different from the arid south. And then there’s the wild GOP politics in Kootenai County, where the once heavily Democratic region is now heavily Republican, particularly in fast-growing areas like Hayden and Post Falls that are filling up with newcomers who never saw the old North Idaho Democratic politics. In these parts, there are the Republicans, the Reagan Republicans, the Pachyderm Clubs, the social conservatives, the libertarians, the constitutionalists and a whole lot more.

North Idaho’s hottest legislative race this spring features four Republicans vying for an open District 3 House seat; no Democrat’s even running. l have an overview of North Idaho’s contested legislative primary races this weekend in my Sunday column.

School Suit Lawyer Backs Bradbury

Here’s a press release from former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Robert Huntley (pictured), who says he’s generally refrained from involvement in judicial elections, but since a sitting justice and a former justice have spoken out for Burdick over Bradbury and a state Bar poll that Huntley faults as “scientifically and statistically unsound” has ranked Burdick higher, “Having knowledge of Judge Bradbury’s qualifications, it is my duty to speak out. Having practiced before Judge Bradbury and having known him for a number of years, I respect him as one of Idaho’s most outstanding judges”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Does it mean anything to you that the plaintiffs’ attorney (and former Supreme Court justice) in the old schools lawsuit prefers Judge John Bradbury over Justice Roger Burdick in their Supreme Court race?

The buzz about SupCourt race…

There’s more and more buzz about this year’s contested Idaho Supreme Court race in the wake of this week’s lively debate between incumbent Justice Roger Burdick and challenger Judge John Bradbury. Here’s a press release from former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Robert Huntley, who says he’s generally refrained from involvement in judicial elections, but since a sitting justice and a former justice have spoken out for Burdick over Bradbury and a state Bar poll that Huntley faults as “scientifically and statistically unsound” has ranked Burdick higher, “Having knowledge of Judge Bradbury’s qualifications, it is my duty to speak out. Having practiced before Judge Bradbury and having known him for a number of years, I respect him as one of Idaho’s most outstanding judges.”

Meanwhile, state Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, has sent out a statement lauding Burdick over Bradbury, and criticizing Bradbury’s statements in the debate about the state’s school facilities lawsuit. “Judge Bradbury’s argument seems to me to be an interventionist and activist interpretation (ie, get more money to the schools) of what should be the rule of law in Idaho and a clear violation of the separation of powers of our Idaho Constitution,” Hartgen wrote.

The May 25 vote on the Supreme Court race is the final vote in the nonpartisan race, though it takes place during the primary election; you can watch the debate online here.

Burdick, Bradbury Clash In Debate

At one point, Burdick disputed Bradbury’s statement that the state’s school facilities lawsuit ended when lawyers were called to a meeting in the Supreme Court’s basement and told “it’s over,” without any written order or decision - and despite an earlier ruling that the state’s school funding system is unconstitutional. “It is abject malarkey and nonsense,” Burdick said, adding that the basement meeting was a scheduling conference on another, related case. “I’m not going to say it’s a lie, but it’s darn close to it,” Burdick said. Bradbury responded, “If you want to know what happened in the basement of the Supreme Court, talk to the players who were there.” His description matches that given at the time by former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Robert Huntley, attorney for a group of school districts that sued over the the state’s system for funding school construction, and Deputy Attorney General Michael Gilmore/Betsy Russell, SR. More here. (SR Photo/Betsy Russell: Judge John Bradbury, left, and Roger Burdick)

Question: Do you believe the Idaho Supreme Court handled properly the conclusion to a long-running lawsuit in which dozens of school districts tried to force the Legislature to properly fund education?

Fiery debate for high court rivals

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on tonight’s Idaho Supreme Court debate, which was the first of the “Idaho Debates” to take place in front of a live audience, as well as being broadcast live statewide on Idaho Public Television. The debates are sponsored by the Idaho Press Club, the Idaho League of Women Voters and an array of media sponsors; the next debate is between 2nd Congressional District GOP candidates on Sunday night, followed by 1st District GOP candidates who are locked in a hot primary contest on May 11th.

Heated moments in judicial debate

Things got pretty heated during tonight’s Idaho Supreme Court debate. At one point, Justice Roger Burdick disputed Judge John Bradbury’s statement that the state school facilities lawsuit ended when lawyers were called to a basement meeting and told “it’s over,” without any written order or decision - and despite an earlier ruling that the state’s school funding system is unconstitutional. “It is abject malarkey and nonsense,” Burdick said, adding that the basement meeting was a scheduling conference on another, related case. “I’m not going to say it’s a lie, but it’s darn close to it,” Burdick said. “The Idaho state Legislature are the people who in fact fund the schools. The Supreme Court of Idaho cannot. It is up to the Legislature. The parties who brought this lawsuit in the first case could bring this lawsuit again tomorrow if they wish - this case is not over. We indicated we retained jurisdiction.” Bradbury responded, “If you want to know what happened in the basement of the Supreme Court, talk to the players who were there.”

Another clash came after Bradbury commented, “As to Justice Jones, I sometimes wonder who I’m running against.” Justice Jim Jones, who is running unopposed for re-election, has issued statements on behalf of the court challenging some of Bradbury’s claims about the state’s judicial system, and responded for Burdick to a letter he received from a citizen. Burdick said, “I’m not going to bridle anyone’s First Amendment rights to answer or to in some way respond to Judge Bradbury. … As concerns this letter, … I was up campaigning. … It was a legal inquiry. Little did I know that it was from a political operative of Judge Bradbury’s. … Little did I know that it was going to be used for some nefarious reason later on in this campaign.”

Justice candidates spar

Among issues on which the two Supreme Court candidates have sparred so far: The newly released Idaho State Bar poll and its high rankings for Burdick and low rankings for Bradbury; what happened in the school facilities lawsuit, which Bradbury dubbed “the darkest day in the history of the Supreme Court in Idaho” and Burdick defended, saying, “The court acted consistently with the Idaho state constitution as it has continued to do since I have been on it;” and whether reformer Bradbury could get along with his colleagues should he be elected to a court he’s twice sued and has strongly criticized. “After I was elected (district judge), you will not find a lawyer in my district that will tell you there is even a hint of animosity,” Bradbury declared, though he ran on a reform platform there. Burdick responded, “The bar survey certainly doesn’t indicate what he has said - I beat him in every category in his own district, and in every category in his district he went down since the 2008 survey.”

Audience in place, debate to start

There’s a pretty good crowd assembled for tonight’s Idaho Supreme Court candidates debate, the first of the “Idaho Debates” to take place before a live audience as well as being broadcast live statewide on Idaho Public Television. It’s being held in the new Capitol Auditorium. The debate is just beginning now.

Preparing for the debate…

Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick, left, and Lewiston Judge John Bradbury, center, prepare for the coin toss before their live debate tonight on statewide television, as Idaho Public TV’s Bruce Reichert explains the rules. Burdick won the toss and chose to go second in the opening question and closing comments. The debate begins at 8 p.m. Mountain time, 7 p.m. Pacific. Bradbury is challenging incumbent Justice Burdick’s bid for another term on the court; Burdick, a former public defender, county prosecutor, magistrate judge, and district judge before his appointment to the court, has stood for election seven times and this is the first time he’s been opposed. Bradbury is making his second bid for the high court, after losing narrowly two years ago to Justice Joel Horton.

Bar survey rankings out as Supreme Court candidates debate live tonight

The new member survey from the Idaho State Bar ranking the candidates in the contested race for the Idaho Supreme Court is out today, and it gives incumbent Justice Roger Burdick considerably higher rankings than his challenger, Judge John Bradbury. However, nearly half the respondents said they did not know Bradbury well enough to rank him, twice as many as said they weren’t familiar with Burdick. The candidates were ranked on such measures as knowledge and understanding of the law and judicial temperament and demeanor; you can see the full results here.

Tonight is the night that Burdick and Bradbury will face off in a debate to be broadcast live statewide on Idaho Public Television; members of the public can attend the debate, with 130 seats available in the Capitol Auditorium, located in the new underground west wing of the state Capitol, on a first-come, first-served basis. The doors will open tonight at 7 p.m. for the 8 p.m. (Mountain time) debate; audience members are asked to silence cell phones and refrain from any applause, shouts or other outbursts; signs or protests also are prohibited during the half-hour debate, which is sponsored by the Idaho Press Club, the League of Women Voters, and an array of media partners. Tonight’s Supreme Court debate is the first of this year’s “Idaho Debates,” which will feature the candidates in contested races this spring and in next fall’s general election.

Idaho’s high court decries campaign claims

The contested race for an Idaho Supreme Court seat has heated up, with the court itself now issuing statements disputing claims from the challenger, Lewiston Judge John Bradbury. The court says it’s part of a protocol adopted last fall for the court to set straight any false claims about the system; Bradbury says they’re after him, while his opponent says he’s deceiving Idahoans about how the courts work. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com

Kevin: Burdick Not Taking Foe Lightly

(John) Bradbury has run as an outsider and a reformer, and he has a personal history with the Supreme Court; last year, justices rebuked the Grangeville-based district judge for failing to live in Idaho County. (Justice Roger) Burdick, pictured, a seven-year court veteran, is an unabashed advocate for a court system, and has little patience for Bradbury. Asked about a frequent Bradbury complaint — the suggestion that the court system is out of the price range of the everyday Idahoan — Burdick doesn’t hide his exasperation. “We throw these things against the wall,” Burdick told the Statesman editorial board. “I have no idea what is meant by that statement”/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Were you paying attention to this Idaho Supreme Court race before we started talking about it here?