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.
As many of you are aware, on February 15, 2022, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare deactivated Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) throughout the State of Idaho “because shortages in staffing and blood products have stabilized.” See Id. Dep’t of Health & Welfare’s Feb. 15, 2022 Press Release. “Even though things are improving, the number of COVID-19 cases statewide and the testing percent positivity is still very high.” Id. CSC continues to remain deactivated throughout Idaho.
IDAHO SUPREME COURT EMERGENCY ORDER REGARDING COURT CASES
Two days after CSC was deactivated, on February 17, 2022, the Idaho Supreme Court issued an update Emergency Order regarding operation of Idaho’s courts in light of the decision from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Significantly, the Order gives Idaho’s Administrative District Judges the discretion to determine whether jury trials take place—a power they did not previously have. Each of Idaho’s seven judicial districts has an Administrative District Judge who is selected by the vote of other district judges in that district. Administrative District Judges help manage court operations and assign judges to cases.
The Order further allowed jury trials to commence as of February 28, 2022, unless the Administrative District Judge issues an order postponing such jury proceedings. Emergency Order at 3. Once a trial has commenced, it should continue to verdict, unless the assigned judge determines to suspend trial due to public safety. Id.
HOW THE CRIMINAL BACKLOG MAY IMPACT YOUR CASES
In an Order issued last year, the Idaho Supreme Court tolled criminal defendants’ speedy trial right, which typically requires a criminal trial to occur within 180 days from its inception. In addition, the Order 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 as jury trials resume because criminal defendants’ 180-day constitutionally-guaranteed right to speedy trial has now resumed. In other words, many of Idaho’s courts now have a large backlog of criminal cases which must be heard within (at most) 180 days from the date trial operations resumed in that particular court.
Our firm has a trial scheduled to begin in mid-June in Ada County, Idaho and the Judge indicated that they will believe the trial will move forward as scheduled.
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.