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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Open process to seek new Idaho Court of Appeals judge yields four finalists: Three women, one man

Here’s an interesting contrast: While Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch pursue a secret process to name a recommended replacement for longtime U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, who will take senior status July 3, a much different and more open process is under way to replace the retiring state Court of Appeals Judge Karen Lansing.

The Idaho Judicial Council issued a notice and call for applications to be received by March 4, and on March 10, published the names of 12 applicants on its website, including state district and magistrate judges, prosecutors, and attorneys from around the state, and solicited comments on the applicants from all members of Idaho’s state bar.

On May 19, 10 of those candidates were interviewed by the Judicial Council. And on May 20, four names were forwarded to Gov. Butch Otter: Dennis Benjamin, a Boise attorney; Molly J. Huskey, a 3rd District judge and former state appellate public defender; Christine M. Salmi, a Boise attorney; and Jayme B. Sullivan, a magistrate judge in Nampa.

Otter will select the new Court of Appeals judge from among those four finalists, who include three women and one man. Lansing, who is retiring June 30 after 22 years on the bench, is currently the only woman serving on either Idaho’s Court of Appeals or its Supreme Court. After her retirement, she will continue to serve the courts part-time as a senior judge.

I reported on April 27 on Risch and Crapo’s secret process for naming a replacement for Lodge; at the time, multiple sources said just four candidates had been interviewed, all of them men, though at least five prominent female Idaho attorneys had applied. Idaho is the only state in the federal 9th Circuit that has never had a woman judge on the U.S. District Court bench; it’s one of just two in the nation. After my article appeared, Risch and Crapo issued a statement saying that both “men and women” were being interviewed and that the process was “ongoing.” “We want a confidential process,” the two senators said in their statement. The word is that now at least two women have been interviewed, but I've received no confirmation of that as yet from the senators.

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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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