Justice Linda Copple Trout
BOISE -- Two women are among the final four candidates to take the seat on the Idaho Supreme Court left vacant by the August retirement of Linda Copple-Trout, who was the first woman on the state's highest court when she was appointed by former Gov. Cecil Andrus in 1992.
Judges Juneal Kerrick of the 3rd District and Darla Williamson of the 4th District court were nominated by the Idaho Judicial Council along with 4th district Judge Joel Horton and Coeur d'Alene attorney Kenneth Howard to succeed Trout.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has not indicated when he will name the state's newest Supreme Court justice.
The nominations of Kerrick and Williamson eased concerns of some that Idaho would join Indiana as the only states without a woman sitting on its highest court.
Peg Dougherty, the vice president of Idaho Women Lawyers, said she was happy to learn two women had been included in the short list. "I would say that speaking on behalf of Idaho Women Lawyers, we are very pleased that the Idaho Judicial Council recognized the importance of diversity and obviously made diversity a priority," Dougherty said.
Williamson, a 1972 graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law, was named a 4th District magistrate judge in 1979 and named a district judge by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne in 2001. In October 2001, fellow district judges elected her as district administrative judge, a position she still holds.
Horton, a 1985 graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law, was appointed to the district bench by Gov. Philip Batt in 1996. He handles both a felony criminal calendar and a civil calendar with cases of more than $10,000.
Howard, admitted to the Bar in Michigan in 1971 and Idaho in 1976, is a private attorney practicing personal injury, product liability, insurance, medical malpractice and contract law. He has served on several Idaho Supreme Court committees, including the civil rules committee from 1984 to 1990 and since 2000, the equality in courts committee since 1990, and the special committee on discovery rules since 2001.