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Idaho Supreme Court

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Idaho Supreme Court
Court information
Justices:   5
Founded:   1860
Chief:  $
Associates:  $
Judicial selection
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Active justices

Daniel Eismann  •  Roger Burdick  •  Jim Jones  •  Joel Horton  •  Warren E. Jones  •  

Seal of Idaho.png

Founded in 1860, the Idaho Supreme Court is the state's court of last resort.


The current justices of the court are:
JudgeTermSelected by
Justice Daniel Eismann2001-2019
Chief justice Roger Burdick2003-2017Gov. Dirk Kempthorne
Justice Jim Jones2004-2017
Justice Joel Horton2007-2021Gov. Butch Otter
Justice Warren E. Jones2007-2021Gov. Butch Otter


The 1890 Idaho Constitution gives the Idaho Supreme Court hears appeals from final decisions of the district courts, as well as from orders of the Public Utilities Commission, Industrial Accident Commission, and Idaho Industrial Commission. The Court has original jurisdiction to hear claims against the state and to issue writs of review, mandamus, prohibition, and habeas corpus, and all writs necessary for complete exercise of its appellate jurisdiction. The Court may also review decisions of the Court of Appeals upon petition of the parties or its own motion. For the convenience of litigants, the Idaho Supreme Court is one of the few "circuit riding" supreme courts in the country, and holds terms of court in Boise, Coeur d'Alene, Moscow, Lewiston, Pocatello, Rexburg, Idaho Falls, Caldwell and Twin Falls.[1]

Judicial selection

See also: Judicial selection in Idaho

Judges are selected using the non-partisan election of judges system. Judges serve renewable six year terms. In the event of an interim vacancy the vacancy is filled using the commission-selection, political appointment method of judicial selection wherein the Idaho Judicial Council selects a number of candidates who are forwarded to the Idaho Governor who then appoints one of the candidates to fill the remaining term. The Chief Justice is selected by a majority of the members of the court to a four year term to which they are then appointed to by the Governor. The Chief Justice has the responsibility of presiding over the Court's activities.[2] Since 1950, 68% of Idaho Supreme Court justices initially reached the bench through appointment rather than election.[3]

Political outlook

See also: Political outlook of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Idaho was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Idaho received a score of 0.75. Based on the justices selected, Idaho was the 5th most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.[4]


Minimum qualifications for election or appointment to the court are:

  • Be at least 30 years old.
  • Be a United States citizen.
  • Be a resident of Idaho for the last two years.
  • Licensed to practice law in Idaho for at least 10 years.
  • Be a qualified elector.

Removal of Justices

Justices may be removed in one of two ways:

  • The Idaho Judicial Council investigates a complaints and may then recommend to the supreme court the discipline, removal, or retirement of a judge. The supreme court may review the recommendation of the judicial council and take additional evidence. The court may then reject or accept the recommendation and impose a penalty.
  • Judges may be impeached by a majority vote of the Idaho State Legislature and convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Idaho State Senate.[5]


Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2012 123 104
2011 160 169
2010 164 356
2009 173 217
2008 938 350
2007 936 365


Notable decisions


Financial disclosure

See also: Center for Public Integrity Study on State Supreme Court Disclosure Requirements

In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Idaho earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.[12]

Court diversity

An analysis by Forster-Long, LLC published by the National Association of Women Judges showed that as of February 2011, the Idaho Supreme Court was just one of three high courts in the 50 American states to have no women on its bench.[13][14]

History of the court

Idaho was first founded as a territory in 1860. The first justices of the Territorial Supreme Court were appointed directly by Abraham Lincoln. When Idaho became a state in 1890, the constitution provided for three justices. In 1919, the number was increased to five, which is how the court has remained to this day.

Notable firsts

See also

External links



See also: 2010 State Supreme Court elections

Incumbent Roger Burdick defeated John Bradbury.

Idaho Supreme Court
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Roger Burdick BallotCheckMark.png n/a 58.4%
John Bradbury n/a n/a

Jim Jones ran uncontested and was re-elected.

Idaho Supreme Court
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Jim Jones BallotCheckMark.png n/a 100%


See also: State Supreme Court elections, 2008

Incumbent Joel Horton defeated challenger John Bradbury.

Idaho Supreme Court
2008 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Joel Horton BallotCheckMark.png n/a n/a
John Bradbury n/a n/a

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IdahoIdaho Supreme CourtIdaho Court of AppealsIdaho District CourtsIdaho Magistrate DivisionUnited States District Court for the District of IdahoUnited States bankruptcy court, District of IdahoUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth CircuitIdaho countiesIdaho judicial newsIdaho judicial electionsJudicial selection in IdahoIdahoTemplate.jpg