Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hailey attorney challenges Judge Elgee

Werth confirms candidacy for district judge job


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Douglas Werth

Hailey attorney Douglas Werth confirmed late last week that he will be a candidate for the Blaine County 5th Judicial District judge position now held by Robert J. Elgee.

"The rumors are true—he will be running," Melanie Crandall, Werth's media advisor, said Friday.

Elgee, who has served as the county's district judge for the past six years, announced earlier last week that he will seek re-election. Werth and Elgee will run against each other in a non-partisan district-wide vote in the May 25 primary election.

Idaho's 5th Judicial District includes Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties.

Werth has 25 years experience as an attorney. He served as deputy attorney general with the Idaho Attorney General's Office and as Blaine County prosecuting attorney. He is currently in private practice in Hailey and is one of five attorneys or firms that have public defender contracts with Blaine County. He also serves on the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission.

"I believe strongly in the principal of judicial restraint and that judges should follow the law, not make law," Werth stated in a press release. "Having served for six years on the county Planning and Zoning Commission, I understand fully the proper role of courts in these proceedings.

"My balanced background in the criminal area also suits me well. I understand the importance of protecting the community. I will be a prepared and impartial judge, fair to all parties and their attorneys.

"I look forward to meeting as many people as I can in all areas of the district. They deserve to know the facts and why they should care about this election."

Elgee was appointed the county's district court judge in 2004 and ran unopposed for re-election in 2006. He announced his candidacy for this year's election on Monday, March 9.

"I am proud, yet humbled to have served as your district judge for the past six years," Elgee stated in his press release. "I will continue to be dedicated to the principle of equal justice for all and a common sense of application of the law.

"I believe my thoughtful, non-partisan approach to the law, my sense of fundamental fairness, my judicial temperament and my strong work ethic are supported by the people of the 5th Judicial District."

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Judicial elections

District judges in Idaho are required to run for re-election every four years. Contested positions are settled in May primary elections unless there are more than two candidates seeking a position and none receives a majority of the votes. In that situation, a runoff election for the two candidates receiving the most votes is held in the November general election.

Contested district judge elections are not the norm in Idaho. Of the state's 42 district judge positions, only two were contested in the last judicial election in 2006 and only one judge lost his job.

In the 1st Judicial District in northern Idaho, Kootenai County District Court Judge John T. Mitchell defeated Hayden attorney Rami Amaro.

In the 7th Judicial District in eastern Idaho, former Bingham County District Court Judge James C. Herndon was challenged by Blackfoot attorneys DaLon Esplin and Darren B. Simpson. Herndon and Simpson received the most votes in the 2006 primary election and ran against each other in the general election that year. Simpson got the most votes and replaced Herndon as the Bingham County district court judge.

District court judges in Idaho are paid an annual salary of $112,043.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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