Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, introduced a bill in Congress Thursday that would authorize a third U.S. district judge for Idaho, something he and others argue is needed to relieve Idaho’s overloaded federal courts.
Since 2015, Idaho has had just one full-time district court judge and the Judicial Conference of the United States has declared a judicial emergency. Judges from other states have been called in to preside over Idaho cases because of the work load.
Idaho’s caseload per judge ranks 34th among the 94 federal district courts, with felony criminal filings ranking 11th.
Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill is Idaho’s lone full-time federal judge. Winmill praised Labrador’s bill in a written statement.
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“While I totally respect the excellent job done by my visiting colleagues, they are not expert on Idaho’s unique culture and history,” Winmill said in the press release. “Idaho cases should be decided by Idaho judges.”
The introduction of the bill comes even as the nomination of Judge David Nye of Pocatello to fill this state’s other existing federal judgeship remains in limbo. President Barack Obama nominated Nye to the federal post in 2016. Congress has yet to approve the appointment despite the support for Nye from Idaho’s two Republican senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.