BOISE, Idaho — Fifteen judicial candidates are trying to win an appointment to an open seat on the Idaho Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Justice Daniel Eismann announced earlier this year he will retire in August — 16 months before the end of his six-year term.
Rather than wait until the 2018 election to fill the seat, the Idaho Judicial Council began soliciting applications from candidates.
The council stopped accepting names on Wednesday and will soon recommend up to four names to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter for appointment. Whoever he appoints will finish out Eismann’s term and would have to run for re-election in 2018.
Open seats that occur on the Idaho Supreme Court when justices do not finish their terms are filled by a gubernatorial appointment rather than by election.
Among those seeking to be tapped by Otter are former Republican state Sen. Curt McKenzie, also a private practice attorney, and Idaho Court of Appeals Judge Sergio Gutierrez. Both unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the state’s highest court last year.
Justice Robyn Brody won the six-year term in November in a runoff election against McKenzie in the most expensive race for the nonpartisan judicial seat in Idaho’s history. Gutierrez dropped out of the race early after failing to win enough votes in the four-way primary election in May.
Seven sitting judges and eight attorneys applied to finish out Eismann’s term.
The Idaho Judicial Council is now accepting public comments on the candidates and will begin interviews in July.
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.