Boise attorney announces Supreme Court run

William “Breck” Seiniger says he is looking for balance on Idaho’s highest court.

jsowell@idahostatesman.comFebruary 26, 2014 

William “Breck” Seiniger plans to be on the ballot in the May 20 election.

He just doesn’t know which Idaho Supreme Court seat he’ll file for. Seats belonging to two justices — Warren Jones and Joel Horton — will be before voters this year.

“I’ll wait until they announce whether they are running,” Seiniger said during an announcement Wednesday on the steps of the Idaho Capitol.

The two justices and others who may be considering a run for the five-member court have until March 14 to file for election. Neither Jones nor Horton could be reached Wednesday for their plans.

Also up for re-election at the same time are Idaho Court of Appeals Justice Sergio A. Gutierrez and all of the state's district and magistrate judges. Magistrates are not selected through competitive races, but rather voters choose whether to retain each judge.

Seiniger, a Boise attorney, said he would make balance on Idaho’s highest court a focus of his election campaign. A practicing attorney for 34 years, he said he has a unique perspective from representing clients who are far from rich and powerful.

“I’ve had the privilege to have Idahoans working paycheck to paycheck to put their faith in me,” he said.

Seiniger said it has become so expensive to argue cases that many people are effectively shut out from pursuing their claims. He said he would like to ensure that courts are fair and affordable to average Idahoans and small businesses, he said.

Both while speaking Wednesday and in his campaign literature, Seiniger was critical of a recent Supreme Court opinion in which Justice Daniel Eismann criticized the three justices who were on the winning side. Eismann, in a strongly worded dissent, accused Chief Justice Roger Burdick and justices Warren Jones and Jim Jones of basing their opinion on their desire to see one of the parties in the case, a medical damages claim from Pocatello, win.

Seiniger called Eismann’s remarks “unnecessarily disparaging” and brought by a lack of self-imposed discipline. The court’s rulings should be based on the law, not on personalities, he said.

“The opinion should have stuck to the facts,” Seiniger said.

Seiniger grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Massachusetts. He also graduated from the University of Idaho School of Law, working for the Latah County Juvenile Probation Department to pay for his schooling.

Seiniger was admitted to the Idaho bar in 1979 and opened his Downtown Boise law office in 1980. He is currently a member of the Supreme Court's Civil Rules Advisory Committee and has served in a number of past roles with the Idaho State Bar and the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association.

The Supreme Court, Seiniger said, plays a significant role in the state’s checks and balances for the Legislature and the governor.

“The whole idea of a constitution is to limit the power of the people that are in this building,” Seiniger said, turning toward the Capitol. “They don’t like to hear that very much, but it’s the job of the judge to do it.”

Opinions should be rendered without regard to political fallout or whether people will like it, Seiniger said, as long as the rulings are based on the constitution. “If people don’t want that, then they don’t want the real protection of the constitution,” he said.

For more information on this year's statewide elections, visit the Idaho Secretary of State's elections page.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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