Idaho Supreme Court

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Idaho Supreme Court
Court information
Justices:   5
Founded:   1860
Chief:  $123,000
Associates:  $122,000
Judicial selection
Method:   Nonpartisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Active justices

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

Seal of Idaho.png

The Idaho Supreme Court is the state's court of last resort. It is composed of five justices: a chief justice and four justices.[1]

For the convenience of the litigants, the court is one of a few "circuit riding" supreme courts in the country. Terms of court are held in Boise, Coeur d'Alene, Moscow, Lewiston, Pocatello, Rexburg, Idaho Falls, Caldwell and Twin Falls.

Opinions of the court are published in the Idaho Reports and can be physically located at the Idaho Water Center, 2nd floor, 322 East Front Street, Ste. 560, in Boise, Idaho.[1]

Electronic records can be found here.


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

Judicial selection

Idaho Supreme Court building in Boise, Idaho
See also: Judicial selection in Idaho

Justices are selected using a nonpartisan election of judges method and serve renewable six-year terms. Mid-term vacancies are filled using the assisted appointment method of judicial selection. With this method, the Idaho Judicial Council selects a number of qualified candidates and their names are forwarded to the Idaho governor. The governor then appoints one of the candidates to fill the remaining term. The chief justice on the court is selected by a majority of the members of the court and appointed by the governor. The chief justice serves four-year term and is responsible for the administration of the court.[2] Since 1950, 68 percent of Idaho Supreme Court justices initially reached the bench through appointment rather than election.[3]


Minimum qualifications for election or appointment to the court are:

  • be at least 30 years old
  • be a United States citizen
  • e a resident of Idaho for the last two years
  • licensed to practice law in state for at least 10 years
  • be a registered to vote


The 1890 Idaho Constitution gives the Idaho Supreme Court the authority to hear appeals of the final rulings of the district courts, as well as from orders from the Public Utilities Commission, Industrial Accident Commission and the Idaho Industrial Commission. The court has original jurisdiction to hear cases 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. Parties may make a further appeal to the supreme court from the Idaho Court of Appeals, or the court may choose to review a decision of the court of appeals.[1]


Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2014 163 126
2013 145 120
2012 123 104
2011 160 169
2010 164 356
2009 173 217
2008 938 350
2007 936 365


For in-depth coverage of the state's high court races, see: Idaho Supreme Court elections, 2014
See also: Idaho judicial elections, 2014
Horton seat
CandidateIncumbencyPrimary VoteElection Vote
SeinigerWilliam "Breck" Seiniger No34.2% 
HortonJoel Horton Yes65.8%ApprovedA   
Unopposed  Judge Warren E. Jones (Jones seat)
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 Green check mark transparent.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 Green check mark transparent.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 Green check mark transparent.png n/a n/a
John Bradbury n/a n/a

Political outlook

Justice Daniel Eismann
Chief Justice Roger Burdick
Justice Jim Jones
Justice Joel Horton
Justice Warren E. Jones
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.[12]

Rules of practice and procedure in Idaho courts

The following is a list of the rules of practice and procedure used by Idaho courts:

A full list of Idaho court rules can be found here


Judicial conduct

The Idaho Code of Judicial Conduct sets forth ethical guidelines and principles for the conduct of judges and judicial candidates in Idaho. It consists of five overarching canons:

  • Canon 1: A Judge Shall Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary.
  • Canon 2: A Judge Shall Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in Activities.
  • Canon 3: A Judge Shall Perform the Duties of Judicial Office Impartially and Diligently.
  • Canon 4: A Judge Shall So Conduct the Judge’s Extra-Judicial Activities as to Minimize the Risk of Conflict With Judicial Obligations.
  • Canon 5: "A Judge or Judicial Candidate Shall Refrain From Inappropriate Political Activity.[13][14]

The full text of the Idaho Code of Judicial Conduct can be found here

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.[15]

Removal of justices

Justices of the supreme court may be removed from office if the majority of the Idaho State Legislature, and two-thirds of the Idaho State Senate vote for impeachment. The Idaho Judicial Council can also recommend the discipline, removal, or retirement of a judge, which the supreme court reviews and makes a decision upon.[16]

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.[17][18]

Notable cases


When Idaho first became a territory of the United States on March 4, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln appointed the first three justices to the Territorial Supreme Court, the precursor of the Idaho Supreme Court. Idaho then became a state in 1890, and the Idaho State Constitution assigned three justices to the court which later increased to five justices (a chief justice and four justices) with the 1919 amendment to the Idaho State Constitution. The composition of the court has not changed since.[1]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 State of Idaho Judicial Branch, "History & Procedures of the Idaho Supreme Court," accessed June 2, 2014
  2. Idaho Supreme Court, "About us," accessed May 1, 2014
  3. Renew America, "Idaho Supreme Court Justice: Citizens too stupid to pick their own judges," May 28, 2007
  4. State of Idaho Judicial Branch, "Annual Report 2014," accessed April 6, 2015
  5. State of Idaho Judicial Branch, "Annual Report 2013," accessed September 19, 2014
  6. State of Idaho Judicial Branch, "Annual Report 2012," accessed June 30, 2012
  7. State of Idaho Judicial Branch, "Annual Report 2011," June 30, 2011
  8. State of Idaho Judicial Branch, "Annual Report 2010," December 31, 2010
  9. State of Idaho Judicial Branch, "Annual Report 2009," accessed June 2, 2014
  10. State of Idaho Judicial Branch, "Annual Report 2008," accessed June 2, 2014
  11. State of Idaho Judicial Branch, "Annual Report 2007," accessed June 2,2014
  12. Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
  13. Idaho Judicial Council, "Idaho Code of Judicial Conduct," accessed June 5, 2014
  14. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  15. Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
  16. American Judicature Society, "Methods of Selection: Removal of Judges, Idaho," accessed June 2, 2014
  17. Des Moines Register, "Gender diversity on Iowa's high court is lacking," February 19, 2011
  18. National Association of Women Judges, "2010 Representation of United States State Court Women Judges," accessed June 2, 2014
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