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Eye On Boise

Director: Judicial turnover has state barely hanging on

Sara Thomas, administrative director of Idaho's courts, makes her budget pitch on Tuesday morning, Jan. 16, 2018 to the Idaho Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. (Betsy Z. Russell)
Sara Thomas, administrative director of Idaho's courts, makes her budget pitch on Tuesday morning, Jan. 16, 2018 to the Idaho Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. (Betsy Z. Russell)

Idaho Courts Director Sara Thomas said Tuesday the state has made big gains on improving court access and technology, but Idaho is barely hanging on when it comes to judicial turnover and vacancies. “We are holding on by the skin of our teeth,” Thomas told members of Idaho’s legislative budget-writing committee, the AP reports. “We are seeing huge turnover – it is having a strong effect.”

As a result, the judicial branch is recommending lawmakers approve a plan that would both fund a new magistrate judge position in Jerome County and allow the courts to cover more cases using retired judges on “senior status.” The senior judge program pays retired judges to cover cases as needed when the local court would otherwise be overwhelmed by caseloads.

Jerome County currently sees more than 3,100 magistrate cases each year, not including infractions. “We simply can’t keep up with the resources we have, so we are looking for an additional magistrate position in Jerome,” she said. You can read a full report here from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.



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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