Canyon County

Canyon County judge on leave amid investigation into ‘inappropriate language’

A Canyon County magistrate judge has been on administrative leave since October, as the Idaho Judicial Council investigates a complaint about his conduct around staff.

Third District Magistrate Judge F. Randall Kline told the Statesman on Thursday that he couldn’t elaborate on the allegations until the Judicial Council’s investigation is complete. He said he believes the council is “fair and impartial” and that he has “the utmost respect” for its work.

Tony Cantrill, the Judicial Council’s executive director, confirmed the council received a complaint about Kline using “inappropriate language” around staff. Kline said he has been on leave since Oct. 13. An order placing him on leave, provided to the Statesman through a record request, was signed by Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Burdick on Oct. 20.

No further details about what Kline is accused of were available. Canyon County officials denied a records request for any related documents, saying they didn’t have such records or that what they did have constituted protected personnel information. Sara Thomas, administrative director of the Idaho Supreme Court, said she was aware of Kline’s leave but could not expand on its circumstances.

Complaints made to the Judicial Council are not considered public records while an investigation is still going. When the Council files its recommendations with the Idaho Supreme Court, those and the complaint then become public.

“Judge Kline is on administrative leave and we are looking into the situation,” Cantrill said when asked about the complaint.

Kline was first admitted in 1981 to the Idaho State Bar, where he has had no prior record of disciplinary actions. He served as an elected prosecutor in Power County before he was appointed to his current seat in 2013.

The Idaho Judicial Council is made up of the Supreme Court’s chief justice, a district court judge, two lawyers appointed by the board of the Idaho State Bar, and three non-attorney members appointed by the governor.

It does not examine legal decisions, but rather considers complaints regarding whether a judge violated the four canons of the Idaho Code of Judicial Conduct. If a complaint holds up, the council recommends a course of action, such as a private reprimand, a public reprimand, a suspension or an education order. The judge involved receives a copy of the complaint, can be represented by an attorney and has the right to a public hearing.