Friday, July 21, 2006

Idaho Bar honors Judge B. Lynn Winmill

Express Staff Writer

Federal district Judge B. Lynn Winmill, whose decisions have helped shape public land management in Idaho, is scheduled to receive the Idaho State Bar's Distinguished Lawyer Award today at the Sun Valley Inn.

The award will be presented during the state bar's annual meeting, taking place from Wednesday, July 19, through today.

Also receiving the Distinguished Lawyer Award will be Nampa attorney William "Bud" Yost, a former state bar president.

As chief judge of the Idaho District, Winmill has made important rulings on issues relating to public land management throughout Central Idaho. He's ruled on important cases pertaining to wolves and public land management on the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, in particular.

However, Idaho State Bar Executive Director Diane Minnich said Winmill was chosen for the award not because of his decisions, but because of his many achievements in the legal profession.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1977, Winmill practiced law in Pocatello for eight years. In 1987, he was appointed a judge for Idaho's Sixth Judicial district, and, in 1995, to the federal bench for the District of Idaho.

The awards program for the 2006 state bar meeting contains a long list of Winmill's professional achievements. He served on the boards of numerous legal and other nonprofit organizations, and as chairman of the Idaho Supreme Court's Evidence Rules Committee. He is a member of the 9th Circuit Judicial Council and of the Information Technology Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Recipients of the Distinguished Lawyer Award are chosen by the bar's five-member board of commissioners.

Bar President Rick Carnaroli, who also serves as a commissioner, pointed to Winmill's success in automating the federal court system in Idaho, and in improving access to it by citizens, as part of the commission's decision in choosing him for the award.

Randy Smith, who serves in Winmill's former position as a judge in Idaho's 6th District in Pocatello, said Winmill "never shirks his duty to take on the tough issues and explain with clarity the decisions he was making."

A commissioner who asked to remain anonymous because he argues cases in front of Winmill in federal court said Winmill carries one of the most demanding case loads he has seen.

"He's incredibly ethical, a smart judge who listens to both sides," the commissioner said. "When you try a case in front of Judge Winmill, whether you win or lose, you know that he has done his absolute best to ensure that the game's been played by the rules."

Winmill is scheduled to receive his award today at 12:30 p.m. in the Limelight Room of the Sun Valley Inn.

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