BOISE – Gov. Butch Otter’s recent back injuries have prompted him to delay interviews of possible candidates for an open seat on the Idaho Supreme Court, the governor’s spokesman said.
Justice Daniel Eismann announced earlier this year he will retire from the state’s highest court at the end of August. The Idaho Judicial Council has since sent the governor’s office four candidates to consider as Eismann’s replacement, but Otter has not yet been able to make a selection.
That’s because Otter has been recovering from two surgeries and a subsequent infection since he was admitted to the hospital July 14 because of a bulging disk in his back. He later remained hospitalized for a post-surgery infection. He was released July 27 and has been recovering at home.
Jon Hanian, the governor’s spokesman, said this week Otter hopes to appoint a new justice soon and that his goal is to do it by end of August.
“There have been some things we’ve had to move around and the Supreme Court interviews are one of those,” Hanian said. “We’re hoping to do the interviews next week.”
The candidates vying for the seat on the five-member court are Boise attorney Rebecca Rainey, 2nd District Judge John Stegner, 7th District Judge Greg Moeller and 5th District Administrative Judge Richard Bevan.
Whoever Otter appoints will face a re-election bid in May 2018 for a six-year term.
Hanian said Otter on Monday briefly stopped by the office for the first time since he had surgery.
Otter while recovering has appointed a new member to the state Board of Parks and Recreation and issued a statement on an influential ruling grocery tax from the Idaho Supreme Court. He receives daily briefings on state issues.
The governor will miss an Aug. 11 “Capital for a Day” in Stanley. Lt. Gov. Brad Little will fill in.
Otter, 75, has said he does not plan on running for a fourth term in 2018.
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