Judicial Conference declares 'judicial emergency' in Idaho, which has only 1 federal judge on bench

  • Print

The policy-making body for the nation’s federal courts has declared a state of “judicial emergency” in Idaho, which has only one sitting federal judge.

One of 28 such emergencies in effect nationwide, it was announced Tuesday morning by the Judicial Conference of the United States, reports the Spokane, Washington, Spokesman-Review. The precipitating incident was the retirement of Idaho’s second federal judge, who took senior status early this month.

Although U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge is continuing to serve on the federal bench, it is foreseeable that the 81-year-old jurist may lighten his workload, the newspaper explains. Meanwhile, no replacement has been named.

Likewise, the state has had only designated two federal judge positions for the last 60 years, even though the federal court’s caseload has soared during that period.

The White House declined to comment when contacted by the newspaper last week, and it isn’t known exactly where efforts by Idaho officials to suggest a replacement for Lodge stand.

However, “Judge Lodge is really well respected and he gave them plenty of time, and they just frittered it away, they didn’t take advantage of it,” law professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond told the Spokesman-Review. “If they’d moved quickly when he announced and formed a committee or whatever the vetting process was, we wouldn’t be where we are now. That’s the proper way to do it. Judge Lodge isn’t the one at fault. He gave plenty of notice.”

At best, it likely would take another three to five months for the U.S. Senate to confirm a new federal judge once a replacement is nominated, Tobias said.

Hat tip: Associated Press.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.