- Associated Press - Sunday, April 30, 2017

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - An opening on the Idaho Supreme Court won’t be filled through an election but through an application process.

Supreme Court Justice Daniel Eismann announced earlier this year he will retire in August - 16 months before the end of his current six-year term.

Because Eismann is stepping down early, the Idaho Judicial Council will solicit applications and recommend up to four names to the governor for appointment instead of waiting until the 2018 election, The Spokesman-Review (https://bit.ly/2oQOqIO) reported. Idaho’s Supreme Court positions are nonpartisan.

It’s a merit-based process that had been used primarily to replace outgoing justices until this past year when former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones announced he would retire at the end of his term.

“I would never have been on the court if the only avenue was to go through the Judicial Council and be appointed by the governor,” said Jones, 74, who was twice elected Idaho attorney general. “It just didn’t even occur to me as a possibility, because if you’ve been involved in the political arena, you probably at one time or another have stepped on the toes of whoever ends up being governor.”

Eismann joined the state’s highest court in 2001 after successfully running against incumbent Justice Cathy Silak. That election was the first time in 68 years that a sitting supreme court justice had been ousted in an election.

He caused a stir when he decided to announce his election campaign at a Republican Party event in eastern Idaho. He has since become one of the most outspoken justices, known for his tough questioning and advocating for specialty courts throughout Idaho.

“It has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve the great state of Idaho and its citizens. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work alongside some of the most dedicated servants to our state and communities,” Eismann, 70, said in a prepared statement. “I am proud of all that has been accomplished in the Idaho courts and wish my colleagues the best as they continue to serve all Idahoans.”

The Idaho Judicial Council is taking applications for Eismann’s seat through May 10. Candidate interviews will begin in July.

“We will miss Justice Eismann’s keen intellect and considerable contributions to the Idaho Supreme Court, to the state’s jurisprudence, and to the people of Idaho. He . is one of the most thoughtful, dedicated and intellectual colleagues one could ask for. I will personally miss his presence on the court,” Chief Justice Roger Burdick said.

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