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Wednesday, July 14, 2004


County prosecutor on track for re-election

Despite applying for judgeship, Thomas enthusiastic about job

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas was a man on the cusp of two legal worlds last month.

As Blaine Countyís prosecuting attorney, Thomas is in the midst of running unopposed for re-election in Novemberís general contest. But this spring he also applied for the 5th District magistrate judgeship in Hailey.

Jim Thomas

After a state panel declined July 1 to appoint Thomas to the bench, the prosecutor said his direction is clearer. He will continue as the lone candidate on the November ballot for the four-year county prosecuting attorney term.

Had he landed the judge job, the county commissioners would have appointed a prosecutor to finish out Thomasí term and, because the filing deadline and primary have already passed, the term for which Thomas is now running.

Nonetheless, Thomas said he is content with the situation.

"I am very pleased that I still have my prosecutor job," Thomas said last week. "One of my big concerns was giving up this job and the opportunity to take on the Johnson case. Now I get to do both of those."

The "Johnson case" was a reference to a high-profile trial scheduled for September in which Blaine County teenager Sarah Johnson will be tried for allegedly killing her parents on Sept. 2, 2003. Johnsonís parents, Alan and Diane Johnson, were residents of Bellevue.

Thomas said one of the reasons he applied for the magistrate judge position was because it opens so infrequently.

"Itís come open twice in 20 years," he said. "Though I was a little disappointed, Ted Israel will to a good job."

The 5th Judicial District Magistrates Commission announced Thursday, July 1, that Judge R. Ted Israel will succeed former Magistrate Judge Robert Elgee. The vacancy came about in early June when Elgee was appointed to Blaine Countyís 5th District bench in Hailey.

Israel and Thomas were two of 17 attorneys, including Blaine County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tim Graves, who applied for the position. The commission selected five candidates, including Israel and Thomas, to be interviewed in Shoshone earlier this month.

Israel, 47, will arrive from Pocatello, where he has served as a magistrate judge for Bannock County since 1992.

Thomas, 49, has been Blaine Countyís prosecutor for four years. He was elected in 2000 after serving as the countyís chief deputy prosecutor.


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