January 11, 2019

Crapo, Risch Seek Third Federal Judge for Idaho

States population growth, geography, caseload support additional district judge seat

Washington, D.C. – Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have introduced legislation, S.103, to establish an additional federal district judgeship in Idaho for the first time in more than sixty years.  Idaho is one of only three states (North Dakota and Vermont are the others) with only two authorized judge seats for the entire state.  In contrast, the Central District of California and the Southern District of New York each have 28 authorized judgeships.  If passed, the Crapo-Risch legislation, would add a third judge to the District of Idaho. 

Crapo and Risch noted that Idaho has faced its own federal judicial challenges.  Since 2003, the Judicial Conference of the U.S. has consistently found Idaho to be facing a judicial emergency based on weighted caseload numbers per active judge.  Idaho is in a precarious position with only two authorized federal judges, and faces further difficulties and shortages with current judges reaching retirement eligibility. 

“The ability to deliver justice to people in Idaho has been severely delayed due to the lack of a third federal district judge,” said Crapo, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  “Judges from other districts have stepped in to assist but the amount of cases and related legal work is causing judge and court employees in Idaho and from neighboring districts to work many overtime hours.  Idaho must be granted a third judge to meet the demands being required.”

"The U.S. Senate has made historic progress in approving federal judges nationwide, but in Idaho we are still lacking," said Risch. “The ‘judicial emergency’ facing Idaho has put our state and legal system at a great disadvantage. Adding a third district judgeship in Idaho is common sense and would help administer efficient and effective justice in our state.” 

Idaho’s two congressional representatives, Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher, introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives last week.