BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho Supreme Court justice in the minority in a recent 3-2 ruling says his colleagues decided the case based not on good law but on the side they wanted to see win.
"It is the courts that make bad law in the process of deciding cases based solely upon whom they want to win or lose," Justice Daniel T. Eismann wrote in a 34-page dissent following a case decided Friday.
Justice Warren E. Jones said Eismann's remarks had no place in a written legal opinion, calling them "scurrilous and unfounded personal attacks upon the integrity and motivations" of the majority justices in the case.
"I am sad that Justice Eismann's dissenting opinion lowers itself to personal attacks more suited to a schoolyard argument among teenagers than to a professional legal discourse that should be expected in a judicial opinion," Jones wrote. He said there was "not a shred of evidence" to support the allegations.
The decision by the justices took more than a year to be issued. The case involves a woman who filed a lawsuit against an eastern Idaho medical facility contending that's where she got an infection that led to the amputation of her lower left leg, the Idaho Statesman reports (http://bit.ly/1lWTofQ ).
Judy Nield, 65 at the time she was treated in 2007, also said an infection led to surgery to repair her right hip implant. She's seeking damages against Pocatello Care and Rehabilitation Center.
A majority of the justices said 6th District Court Judge Robert C. Naftz erred by excluding an affidavit from the plaintiff's doctor while admitting one from a defense doctor. The majority also said Naftz erred by requiring Nield to show that the infection couldn't have come from any other source.
"Distilled to its essence, in my opinion this case boils down to a dispute between two respected, licensed and competent physicians over how and where Mrs. Nield contracted the infectious diseases with which she is afflicted," Jones wrote. "In my opinion, both physicians are qualified to state their opinions."
Justice Joel D. Horton was in the minority with Eismann in the decision, but he disagreed with him concerning the motives of the majority.
"In my view, the majority's error is not the product of a preference for one party over the other; rather, the majority's error is a failure to observe the limitations upon an appellate court when reviewing a trial court's discretionary decision," Horton wrote in his dissent.
Chief Justice Roger S. Burdick and Justice Jim Jones didn't respond to Eismann's remarks.
Former Idaho Attorney General Dave Leroy said the five Idaho Supreme Court justices are usually congenial. He called Eismann's remarks "atypically intemperate."
Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com