Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Judge Wood to retire

Judge Butler takes over Blaine cases

Express Staff Writer

With the pending retirement of 5th District Judge Barry Wood, almost 30 Blaine County civil and criminal cases have been reassigned to Judge John K. Butler, who normally presides in Jerome County.

Wood's retirement is set for Dec. 31, but reassignment of his cases, starting with Blaine County, is already underway, said Linda Wright, trial court administrator for the 5th Judicial District, which encompasses an eight-county region in south-central Idaho.

"We're just going to make the transition a little earlier so we can keep things running smoothly," Wright said.

Wood, who is also the district's administrative judge, normally presides in Gooding County, but has been presiding judge for numerous criminal cases in Blaine County because of a recent rash of disqualifications filed against Judge Robert J. Elgee, the county's assigned district court judge, by the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Wright said Wood has cases in other 5th District counties and will be kept busy until his retirement becomes effective.

The Blaine County cases were reassigned to Butler in an "order of assignment" dated June 19. The order places 10 civil and 18 criminal Blaine County cases on Butler's docket.

Butler was already at work in Blaine County on Tuesday as presiding judge in the trial of an accused cocaine dealer.

Wood has retained a few Blaine County cases, including the post-conviction relief case of convicted murderer Sarah Johnson, who is seeking a new trial following her 2005 convictions for killing her parents in Bellevue.

Terry Smith:

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