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State of Judiciary, courthouses in disrepair

Judicial system seeking additional money to fund buildings

Idaho Capitol Building

Credit: Contributed photo
Idaho Capitol Building

— Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Burdick gave his "State of the Judiciary" address to legislators Wednesday morning, Jan. 24, at the State Capitol.

In his address, the chief justice said the fast growth occurring in Idaho will pose challenges for the courts.

“We welcome our new citizens, but we must realize there will be impacts on our cities, counties, state agencies and the judiciary which must be faced,” he said. “As I have travelled throughout the state, prosecutors, public defenders and judges have talked about near-crippling increases in criminal cases.”

He said the growth will also create a more pressing need for better infrastructure. Many courthouses are already struggling to accommodate for the needs of citizens and governmental employees, he said.

“Access to justice in its most basic form means physical access to a courtroom,” he said. “In some courthouses — with the absence of even a simple elevator — witnesses, jurors and judges with physical challenges must be carried up stairs by bailiffs just to be able to do their work.”

However, Burdick said right now counties cannot afford to pay for new courthouses. He said the judicial system is seeking additional money to fund these buildings.

Burdick also addressed the expansion of the online systems Odyssey and iCourt, which he said is the largest initiative the courts are currently undertaking. These programs have allowed some counties to put records online and make many of these documents more accessible to the public. The eventual goal is to have them be implemented statewide.

"This has not been an easy transition," Burdick said, though he added the process is becoming smoother.

In spite of these challenges, Burdick said the Idaho judiciary “continues to offer remarkable service to all Idahoans.”

"As I go throughout the nation, I am constantly amazed at how well we solve problems, the three branches of government, versus other states" he told lawmakers. "And I thank you, a lot, for that."

Nina Rydalch covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.


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