Jury Trials Suspended in Idaho

We would like to inform you about an order recently issued by the Idaho Supreme Court that could have a significant impact on civil jury trials in Idaho.

BACKGROUND

As many of you are aware, on September 16, 2021, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare activated Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) throughout the State of Idaho “because the massive increase of COVID‑19 patents requiring hospitalization in all areas of the state has exhausted existing resources.” See Id. Dep’t of Health & Welfare’s Sept. 16, 2021 Press Release. “Implementation of crisis standards of care are meant to be a measure of last resort. Activation of the crisis standards of care. . . means that all other options for addressing resource limitations have been explored.” Id. As of September 29, 2021, CSC remains activated throughout Idaho.

IDAHO SUPREME COURT EMERGENCY ORDER REGARDING COURT SERVICES

A week after CSC was activated, on September 22, 2021, the Idaho Supreme Court issued an updated Emergency Order regarding operation of Idaho’s courts in light of the threat. Significantly, the Order prohibits the commencement of civil and criminal jury trials through December 6, 2021.

In addition to the above, the Order also states that, apart from some narrow exceptions, all other court proceedings in Idaho “shall be held remotely. . .” Emergency Order at 3.

HOW THE CRIMINAL BACKLOG MAY IMPACT YOUR CASES

Unfortunately, the suspension of all jury trials in Idaho will likely cause even further delays in the commencement of civil jury trials. In an Order earlier this year, the Idaho Supreme Court indicated that all criminal cases would take priority over civil cases when jury trials resumed. See Order dated Feb. 3, 2021. This will likely remain the case when jury trials resume this time because of criminal defendants’ constitutionally‑guaranteed right to speedy trial.

In addition, Idaho courts already have a large backlog of criminal jury trials. For example, as of December 6, 2021, jury trials in Boise’s state courts will have been prohibited for approximately half of the weeks in 2021. See 4th Dist. Admin. Orders., see also State Judicial Emergency Orders. So even if trials are permitted to commence on December 6, 2021, there are sure to be a number of criminal cases that take precedence over our civil cases for a number of months.

INSIGHTS FOR GF CLIENTS

While your case may be delayed, if you are a health care provider, please know that the Courts recognize the importance of the work you are doing during this time and appear willing to prioritize your schedule over litigation demands, such as discovery and depositions.

Thank you for your patience as we navigate these unprecedented times and we will continue to keep you apprised of any additional updates from the Idaho Courts.

Please contact a Gjording Fouser lawyer at 208.336.9777 if you would like any additional information about this topic or any other issues facing your company.