Sunday, May 23, 2010

Reasons To Vote Against John Bradbury For Idaho Supreme Court

I'm not sure that I have a strong reason yet to vote for Justice Roger Burdick, who is seeking confirmation for another term on the Idaho Supreme Court.  But I do have some reasons to vote against Judge John Bradbury, who is trying for that seat.  From the May 23, 2010 Magic Valley Times-News:

Female judges

Bradbury said that if there were fewer retirements and more elections, the court system would have more female judges. He points to the Legislature, where female legislators are more commonplace compared to the judiciary.

“Only one woman out of 22 in the last three years has been appointed,” he said. “… You can’t look at these statistics and have many women lawyers want to go through the ordeal when they see what the results have been. I think the first thing that you’ve got to do is let them know that the system is opened up.”

Burdick disagrees, saying a survey in 2008 of every lawyer and judge has results showing that women aren’t attracted to judge positions because contested elections and lower salaries. Burdick also points out that the Judicial Council, not the Idaho Supreme Court, selects two to four candidates to the governor to pick for appointments.
I do agree with Bradley that the practice of judges retiring before their term is up is not good. The reason that this is done is so that the governor can appoint someone to the position--who then has the advantage of incumbency. A couple of years back, one of the Idaho Supreme Court justices actually said directly that this is a good thing because the voters are knowledgeable enough to make good decisions on stuff like this. But Bradbury's argument that it would increase the number of women on the bench is exactly the kind of quota-driven thinking that ignores individuals, and glorifies identity politics.

I'm not impressed with this discussion from Bradbury v. Idaho Judicial Council (Ida. 2009):

Petitioner was elected in 2002 for a district judge position with resident chambers in Idaho County. He took office in January 2003. Idaho Code section 1-809 requires that district judges actually reside at the place designated as their resident chambers. On December 20, 2002, Petitioner purchased a house in Grangeville, Idaho County, and on October 16, 2003, he changed his voter registration to Idaho County.

On May 2, 2006, the Council notified Petitioner that it was conducting an inquiry into whether he was actually residing in Idaho County. Petitioner responded by letter on May 4, 2006, stating that he owned a fully furnished home in Grangeville, that he had a homeowner's exemption on that home, and that he was registered to vote and did vote in Idaho County. He also stated that he had a fully furnished home in Lewiston and that the home at which he stayed depended upon where his work was. By letter dated April 17, 2007, the Council informed Petitioner that, based upon his response, the Council was closing the file. The Council noted in its subsequent findings that Petitioner had not informed the Council "that he spent practically none of his nights in Grangeville, or, that in the prior six (6) months he had spent fewer than ten (10) evenings in Grangeville."

On September 12, 2007, the Council sent Petitioner a letter stating that it had received additional information and was re-opening the inquiry into whether he was actually residing in Idaho County. On October 31, 2007, Robert G. Hamlin, the Executive Director of the Council, interviewed Petitioner regarding the issue of whether he actually resided in Idaho County. That interview was recorded and transcribed by a court reporter. During that interview, Petitioner stated, "And my Constitutional duty is to do my job, and I think it trumps whatever the statutory obligation might be." He continued, "And I want to do my job. And I want to comply with the law. But I can't do both, as much as I want to." When asked, "So do you—you spend most of your time in Lewiston?" Petitioner answered, "Yeah, I do." Hamlin followed up by asking, "How many days—let me rephrase that, how many evenings a week do you spend in Grangeville?" Petitioner answered, "Practically none." He said that he got most of his personal mail in Lewiston and had registered his vehicles in Nez Perce County. He told Hamlin he spent most of his weekends at his ranch in Clearwater County where he is building a house. He also stated, "I can tell you that I would live in Grangeville if I could do my work and live in Grangeville."
Bradbury sounds more and more like one of those, "Why should I have to obey the law?" sorts that so dominate Democratic Party politics.  I think I will be voting to confirm Burdick.


  1. "Resident chambers"?

    Does that mean he holds court in his house?

    Or that he has to have an office in his house to serve as "chambers" for the court, which doesn't have "chambers"?

  2. No, even in Grangeville, they have a courthouse!