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Eye On Boise

Idaho SupCourt hopefuls address challenges to state’s judiciary

The four candidates were asked by moderator Marc Johnson what they see as the single biggest challenge facing Idaho’s courts. Here are their answers:

Clive Strong: “Restoring public confidence in the Idaho judicial system itself. … What we see are a lot of litigants turning now towards mediation as an alternate solution,” which may be appropriate in some cases, he said. “But the consequence of mediation is it’s done in private, it doesn’t create the precedent that is useful in addressing future disputes. We need the current body of case law.” If Idaho can’t “get people to the point that anyone can afford to come to the court and get relief ... we run the risk of losing that body of case law that we need.” He said possible solutions include “looking to try to triage cases; not every case has to be litigated to the ends of the earth.” And, he said, “Some are simpler cases which we can have a streamlined process for.”

Curt McKenzie: “I think it’s ensuring our judges don’t have an overwhelming case load, getting candidates that are qualified and have proper experience, and continuing to develop our specialty courts, drug courts, domestic violence courts, those types of things.”

Robyn Brody: “From my perspective, it’s surely the implementation of the new computerized court system. Getting all the counties up and running, I think, is an enormous task. The resources are slim in terms of dollars and people, and frankly, we’re bumping up against mindsets and challenges and people’s resistance to technology.”

Sergio Gutierrez: “I would say it has to be the access issue, as the cost of litigation and the cost of hiring a representative has gone up, many folks, it’s not a question of reducing the cost, it’s a question of not even believing they can come to the doors of our courts. Chief Justice Jim Jones has spearheaded the pro bono efforts around the state. But the need is much bigger than that. … I think really, the court has to take that on and put forth a strategy that will allow the doors of the courthouse to be open to everyone.”

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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