WASHINGTON – Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have introduced legislation 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, S. 209, would add a third judge to the District of Idaho.
Crapo and Risch noted that the Judicial Conference of the United States – comprised of the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and Appeals Courts, as well as senior judges from other federal courts – found Idaho to be facing a “judicial emergency,” one of 42 in the country. Based on caseload numbers per active judge, the designation comes with a recommendation for an additional district judge seat. Idaho’s caseload and large size would benefit from a third court seat. The Judicial Conference has recommended additional judge help for Idaho consistently since 2003, which was one year after Congress last authorized new judgeships or any state. The senators introduced similar legislation during the last Congress.
“There is no question about the impact on justice served in Idaho during a judicial emergency,” Crapo said. “Judges from neighboring districts have helped but the stress and constant casework load is causing both Idaho and other judges and employees to work many overtime hours. Congress should grant the district court seats Idaho’s population, geography, and workload require.”
“The ‘judicial emergency’ facing Idaho has put our state and legal system at a great disadvantage,” said Risch. “Adding a third judgeship for the District of Idaho is common sense and would help in the administration of efficient and effective justice in our state.”
Idaho Congressmen Raúl Labrador and Mike Simpson also champion similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.