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Idaho Bar survey rates Brody twice as high as McKenzie for state’s high court

BOISE – The Idaho State Bar has released the results of its survey of state bar members about the qualifications of the two candidates vying for an open seat on the Idaho Supreme Court, and Robyn Brody has been rated nearly twice as highly by attorneys around the state as rival Curt McKenzie.

Overall, Brody was rated 3.65 out of 4, while McKenzie was rated 1.86 on the same scale. For integrity and independence, Brody’s score was 3.64, while McKenzie’s was 1.72. For knowledge and understanding of the law, Brody was rated 3.63; McKenzie, 2.0.

For judicial temperament and demeanor, Brody drew a 3.7 score; McKenzie got just 1.86. For legal ability and experience, Brody was rated 3.64, while McKenzie was rated 1.87.

Brody said, “The results are clear. Idaho’s legal community, the people who know our records, rated my legal performance almost twice as highly as my opponent.”

She said, “I have respect for the law and respect for people, and I am proud of my record and humbled by the support of my peers. They evaluated the essential qualifications needed from an Idaho Supreme Court Justice.”

McKenzie said he figured other lawyers in the state know Brody better because of her service for one year as president of the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association; she held that position in 2007-08.

“They didn’t necessarily elect me as a state senator from conservative Canyon County,” he said.

Bar members are asked to complete the survey only if they know the candidate.

McKenzie said, “I assume some attorneys are basing their knowledge on my record as a state senator, where I didn’t agree with the trial lawyers association on a number of issues.”

The Idaho State Bar is the entity that licenses all attorneys who practice in the state. Of its 4,048 members, 440, or 11 percent, responded to the survey.

Last week, McKenzie touted a new endorsement from House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, who had supported another candidate, Clive Strong, in the May primary. “I believe Curt will protect private property and water rights, which are vital to our economy,” Bedke, a rancher, said in a news release. That brought the number of current or former state legislators who’ve endorsed McKenzie in the nonpartisan race to 44, all of them Republicans. The Supreme Court position is nonpartisan.

“I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the Idaho Legislature,” McKenzie said. “It’s gratifying to know that those who have worked with me most closely trust me to uphold the Constitution on Idaho’s highest court.”

When the state bar surveyed its members about the candidates in the last two Idaho Supreme Court contests in 2014 and 2010, participants rated Justice Joel Horton higher than challenger Breck Seiniger in 2014, and Justice Roger Burdick higher than challenger John Bradbury in 2010. But McKenzie’s ratings are below those of both Seiniger, whose average rating was 2.51 to Horton’s 3.44, and Bradbury, whose average rating was 2.2 to Burdick’s 3.6. In both cases, the higher-rated candidate won the election.

This time, neither hopeful is an incumbent. Brody is an attorney in private practice from Rupert; McKenzie is an attorney in private practice in Boise and a seven-term state senator from Nampa.

A similar survey was taken about the qualifications of the four candidates who ran in the primary last spring for the current opening. Brody and Idaho Court of Appeals Judge Sergio Gutierrez tied for the highest overall rating at 3.58; Deputy Attorney General Clive Strong came in second at a 3.27 overall rating; and McKenzie was last with a 1.9 overall average. Brody was the top finisher in that election, with McKenzie in second place, so the two advanced to a runoff in November’s general election.

Brody and McKenzie will face off in a debate on statewide TV this Friday night, at 8 p.m. on Idaho Public Television.

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