Warren E. Jones
BOISE -- A veteran Boise insurance defense attorney will be Idaho's newest Supreme Court Justice, Republican Gov. Butch Otter announced in a press release late yesterday. Warren E. Jones, who has practiced litigation with Boise-based corporate law firm Eberle Berlin since 1970, beat out three public sector rivals with strong credentials for one of the state's highest judicial posts. Chief Justice Gerald Schroeder is retiring July 31, more than a year before his term ends, to give his successor time in office before facing voters next year. Justice Linda Copple Trout will shortly do the same for her successor, LegalNewsLine reported last month. Jones will now serve the rest of Schroeder's term until January 2009, but will stand for election to a further four-year term in May 2008. This brief incumbency is expected to give Jones an edge over rivals with no experience on the top bench. Sixty-three-year-old Jones beat out Deputy Attorney General Michael Grant, Fourth District Judge Joe Horton and Attorney General Division Chief Clive Strong for the Supreme Court seat. Strong was one of the early favorites when nominations for Schroeder's vacancy were first declared more than two months ago, LNL reported in April. He's considered the state's go-to guy on key Idaho resource issues like water rights. But early pick Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls), the state's Senate Majority leader, didn't even make the final four. Davis was considered a strong candidate as a political heavy-hitter from the under-represented eastern Idaho region, LNL noted. Fellow attorneys yesterday praised Jones' appointment to the bench. Banking attorney Conrad Aiken told the Idaho Statesman that Jones was the kind of lawyer who could explain to juries that "sometimes bad things happen in life, and it's not necessarily anyone's fault." Jones lists his memberships (outside the Bar) in the Defense Research Institute, Idaho Association of Defense Counsel, Association of Defense Trial Attorneys and the American Board of Trial Advocates.