Idaho Statesman - "Idaho Supreme Court candidates keep it civil"

News Article

By:  Joel Horton
Date: May 13, 2008
Location: Boise, ID


Idaho Statesman - "Idaho Supreme Court candidates keep it civil"

Previous election campaigns for the Idaho Supreme Court bench have garnered a reputation for being nasty affairs, complete with contentious advertisements and bitter feelings.
But so far the race between incumbent Idaho Supreme Court Justice Joel Horton and his challenger, 2nd District Judge John Bradbury, is anything but.

The Idaho Supreme Court justice election is held as part of the Idaho primary, on May 27. The vote in May is the final vote for the justice seat. There is no runoff in the general fall election.

"It's a good reminder that we are responsible for making the decisions that affect the welfare of a million and a half people in this state," Horton said. "So it's a good opportunity to meet people, see what their concerns are and let them know what it's like to be a Supreme Court Justice. It's certainly positive."

Bradbury, meanwhile, says he has no quarrel with Horton's actions on the bench. "He's a good judge. I'm not running against him, I'm running against the system," Bradbury said.

Horton was appointed to the bench by Gov. Butch Otter in September to replace retiring Justice Linda Copple-Trout, who said she was stepping down so she wouldn't have to endure another possible election-year challenge.

Despite all the politeness, the two do have dramatically different approaches to their roles as judges.

Horton promotes educating Idaho's judiciary about effective caseload management as a way to help the courts cope with increased demands. Giving judges ongoing education and the tools to fight burnout is crucial for maintaining and improving the courts, Horton said.

"The courts are being asked to take on more and more complex social problems, and you're seeing them respond in a fashion that is almost revolutionary — creating drug courts, domestic-violence courts, mental-health courts," Horton said. "The Supreme Court can continue to encourage judges to do that and continue to work with the Legislature to seek the upfront resources required."

Bradbury is calling for court reform. He maintains that district courts should stay open nights and weekends to make them more convenient for the public.

"Why should you have to give up a day's pay to fight a parking ticket? Why don't we have electronic filing? Why should I or you or any lawyer have to go to the courthouse to look at records?" Bradbury asked.

Ordering the counties to make and pay for wholesale changes to the way they run their courthouses isn't appropriate, Horton said.

"The counties are charged with finding facilities for the courts. I don't think it would be wise for the Supreme Court to be instructing county commissioners that they need to keep the courts open nights and weekends and add additional staff — clerks, security, other personnel — for those extra hours," Horton said.