As he was highlighting to state lawmakers the number of Idaho judges who have been retiring, Chief Justice Roger Burdick mentioned a rather startling statistic: Just since Jan. 1, he has received notices of resignation from three magistrate judges, two district judges, and one Court of Appeals judge. “Our judiciary continues to face demographic change by retirement,” Burdick said. “Since 2014, 28 district and magistrate judges have retired, as well as our good friend and jurist, Justice Jim Jones.”
Court of Appeals Judge John Melanson, who was in the gallery for the speech, confirmed afterward that he’ll be retiring this year, effective June 30. “I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years – I think the time is right,” said Melanson, who just completed a term as chief judge of the Idaho Court of Appeals. “I’ll be within two months of my 70th birthday when I leave.”
There will still be a year left in Melanson’s term when he retires; Gov. Butch Otter will appoint a replacement to complete the term. The Idaho Court of Appeals, the state’s second-highest court, has four members; Melanson was appointed by Otter in 2009. He previously served six years as the presiding judge of the Snake River Adjudication; three terms as a 5th District judge in Minidoka County; and five years as a magistrate judge in Lincoln County. A University of Idaho law graduate and Vietnam veteran, he practiced law in Buhl for 13 years before becoming a judge.