This state wants to know why fewer experienced applicants are seeking judgeships

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The Idaho Supreme Court has surveyed active attorneys in the state to learn why fewer highly qualified candidates are applying to fill district court vacancies.

The 2022 Judicial Recruitment Bar Survey Report and Findings found that lawyers are concerned about the judicial selection process, the polarized political environment and other issues.

Law.com has the story.

The survey was sent to 5,700 members of the Idaho State Bar, and about 28% responded.

Judges are elected in Idaho, but applicants are needed to fill judgeships between elections. But fewer lawyers are applying to become district judges, according to Jeff Brudie, a retired judge who is the interim executive director of the Idaho Judicial Council.

Brudie told Law.com that only four or five people apply for each district judge position, and the applicants tend to be younger with less experience. Magistrate judge positions are easier to fill, he said.

Nearly 70% of the respondents said they were interested in being a judge, but only 21% had applied for a judgeships.

When respondents were asked to name their concerns about applying for judicial positions, the most frequently mentioned answers were the judicial selection process (16.04%), the increasingly polarized political environment (12.13%), a biased selection process (10.08%), the isolation of the job (9.78%), inadequate compensation and benefits (9.67%), the need to run for election to keep the position (8.58%), not perceiving themselves as having the appropriate experience (7.3%), heavy workloads (7.11%), safety concerns (5.52%), the job not playing to their strengths and interests (4.92%) and transitioning to the bench (4.07%).

When respondents were asked to rank order their concerns, the judicial selection process came out on top, followed by the job not playing to personal strengths and interests, elections, bias in selection, political polarization and compensation.

District judges in Idaho are paid $140,000, according to Law.com.

The most common biases named by the respondents were political ideals (18.3%), gender (13.3%), age (7.1%), geographic location (7%), religion (5.9%) and race (4.2%).

Many respondents who saw political bias thought that judicial candidates must have political beliefs aligned with those making the selection, even though the judicial positions and elections are nonpartisan. Many also mentioned the need for political connections.

As for religion, many respondents thought that there was a strong preference for appointing judges who are heavily involved in their churches.

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