As of Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Sergio A. Gutierrez of Nampa is one of four candidates seeking an open seat on the Idaho Supreme Court in the upcoming May 17 primary. To succeed Justice Jim Jones, the top candidate must receive 50 percent plus one of the total votes; otherwise, the top two candidates will have a runoff in the Nov. 8 general election.
The justice candidate visited Grangeville last Thursday, April 28, as part of his statewide campaign.
Gutierrez’s professional background includes as a private attorney, as a district court judge in the third judicial district, and 14 years as appellate judge on the Idaho Court of Appeals.
He said the public can look to his record as one of independence, being fair-minded and having a respect for the law.
“My focus has been, both as a lawyer and judge, to ensure justice for all,” he said. His past involvement has been as chair of the Idaho Supreme Court committees on fairness and equality, and language access; on this last he was involved with establishing a statewide court interpreter program.
Brody, Gutierrez rate high in Idaho State Bar members’ survey
The Idaho State Bar recently conducted a survey of its members on the qualifications for the Idaho Supreme Court. Four candidates are running in the May 17 primary election.
Of the 3,806 Idaho attorneys and judges who were sent the survey, 581 responded. Candidates were rated from one to four on four criteria: integrity and independence; knowledge and understanding of the law; judicial temperament and demeanor; and legal ability and experience.
Overall averages were as follows:
- Robyn Brody 3.58
- Sergio Gutierrez 3.58
- Curtis McKenzie 1.90
- Clive Strong 3.27
Results and breakdowns on individual criteria are on the bar’s website at www.isb.idaho.gov .
Gutierrez stated there’s a lack of appreciation in terms of what the Idaho Supreme Court represents as the third branch of government and, “it’s incumbent on that court to increase the trust of the people.”
Through this he has worked in areas to foster public as well as professional trust in the Idaho Court system, including as co-chair of the Idaho Supreme Court judicial recruitment committee, and as founder and member of the Idaho State Bar diversity section.
He is an immigrant from Mexico, from a disadvantaged background growing up on the streets of Stockton, Calif., who obtained his GED and went on to college for an education degree and later law school, who came to be “aware of what the law represented,” and who went on to provide legal outreach for Idaho farm workers who had “no voice, no political power” in their social institutions.
Gutierrez has put his experience and time into helping build leadership and opportunities for education within the Hispanic youth community. This ties into his concern to improve diversity throughout all levels of the court system, and working with the state bar that Idaho is attracting qualified individuals, especially women and people of color, and disadvantaged backgrounds, including poverty.
His concerns is to ensure the public’s access to their court system, that justice is not just for those – as he has heard on the campaign trail – for “those who can afford it.”
Reflecting on this four-way race, Gutierrez appreciates how this is generating public interest in the Idaho Supreme Court, which has power in setting the policies and rules governing all the states’ courts and judges. The public has the opportunity to elect a justice, and he sees this campaign as an “opportunity to do public education and have a better informed citizenry.”
Find out more on Gutierrez’s background online at vote4gutierrez.org.