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Wednesday, October 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Idaho Supreme Court reinstates ACLU lawsuit challenging Idaho’s public defense system

The Idaho Supreme Court today reinstated the ACLU lawsuit challenging Idaho’s public defense system as unconstitutional, reversing in large part a lower court decision that dismissed it on procedural grounds. In a unanimous decision authored by Chief Justice Roger Burdick, the high court overturned the Ada County District Court ruling that dismissed the case on grounds of standing, ripeness and separation of powers, and agreed with the lower court only on dismissing Gov. Butch Otter as a defendant, on grounds he didn’t cause the injuries cited in the lawsuit.

That leaves the case intact with defendants including the state of Idaho and the Idaho Public Defense Commission. The high court remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its ruling. You can read the court’s full 23-page opinion here.

The class-action lawsuit charges that Idaho’s system for providing public defenders for poor people accused of crimes falls short of the requirements of both the U.S. and Idaho constitutions. Idaho Public Television's "Idaho Reports" has more on this here.

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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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