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Friday ó April 2, 2004


Elgee one of 3 applicants for judge

Express Staff Writer

Three applicants for the position of 5th District Judge in Blaine County received probing but cordial treatment by the Idaho Judicial Council during interviews Wednesday. One of the applicants is Magistrate Judge Robert Elgee, of Hailey.

The interviews, open to the public, were the first step in finding a replacement for retiring District Judge James May. The seven-member council, chaired by Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Copple Trout, will recommend an applicant to Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, who will make the appointment.

Robert Elgee

May, 78, retired after 17 years on the bench. He is spending the last six weeks of his position to use up accumulated vacation time. Visiting judges are filling in until a replacement is appointed.

Other than the chief justice, the judicial council consists of three attorneys appointed by the commissioners of the Idaho state bar, and three non-attorneys appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

Competing against Elgee for the position are two Twin Falls attorneys, Thomas Kershaw Jr., and Richard Greenwood. Neither have served as judges, but Idaho law does not require applicants for district judge to have first served as magistrates. Magistrates hear misdemeanor criminal cases and relatively minor civil cases while district judges hear felony criminal cases and major lawsuits.

In response to questions, Elgee told the council that he considers his greatest virtue as a judge to be his patience.

"You canít be short with people," he said. "They want to know that youíve listened to their case."

Elgee also said he is an optimist about human nature.

"I try to see the good in people while at the same time harboring no illusions," he said.

Greenwood has been an attorney in the Twin Falls area since 1977, and has served as prosecuting attorney for Kimberley, Filer and Buhl. He currently specializes in commercial law, and is vice-chair of the Idaho State Barís commercial law and bankruptcy section.

Greenwood told council members that his primary goal as a judge "will be to require decorum in the courtroom and to give everyone the respect they deserve while dealing with one of the most powerful arms of the state."

He said he believes all judges must decide cases in accordance with the law, even when the public is clamoring for a contrary result.

Greenwood, who has twice before applied for judgeships without success, emphasized that he is not seeking the job as a way to slide into retirement.

"I think I could contribute as a judge," he said. "Iím not taking the job because I want to live in the Wood River ValleyóI donít ski."

Kershaw, asked what passion he would bring to the job, said that after years working as an attorney, he is still thrilled about the American system of justice.

He also told the council that he believes he is better suited to being a judge than an attorney.

"Iíd like to achieve a right and just result (rather) than be an advocate for one side," he said. "I have the capacity to be very objective and open minded. That is a quality that occasionally drives clients crazy."


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