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Current State of Court Operations in Idaho (March 24)
March 24, 2020


Idaho State Courts:

On March 13, 2020, Idaho Governor Brad Little declared a State of Emergency in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The Idaho Supreme Court then issued an order (which it amended on March 23, 2020,) providing the following guidance for civil matters pending in Idaho state courts as follows: 

  • All in-person court appearances are excused, with the exception of emergency matters, child protection hearings and domestic violence hearings.
  • All civil trials, hearings, and motions shall be postponed and rescheduled for a later date unless the assigned judge finds that the proceedings may be held and adequately recorded through telephonic or video means and placed into the official court record.
  • With the exception of emergency matters and hearings required by statute or court Rule to be held, small claims, eviction, probate and guardianship cases will be continued.
  • Any civil trial or hearing currently in progress shall be continued or completed at the discretion of the presiding judge.
  • No jury panels will be called during the pendency of the Supreme Court’s Amended Order.
  • Courtroom attendance will be limited to required court personnel, attorneys, parties, and necessary witnesses.
  • A case involving an attorney, party, necessary witness, or required court personnel who is ill or in a high-risk category shall be rescheduled.
  • Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 40(a), which permits disqualification of a judge without cause, is suspended for all new cases filed during the effective term of the Supreme Court’s Amended Order.
  • Individuals with legitimate court business who are ill, caring for someone who is ill, or in a high-risk category are advised to stay home and request a continuance by calling the local Court Clerk.
  • Individuals should not enter courtrooms or court services offices if they have:
    • Visited China, Iran, South Korea, any European countries, or any other high-risk countries identified by the CDC in the previous 14 days;
    • Resided with or been in close contact with someone who has been in any of those countries within the previous 14 days;
    • Traveled domestically within the United States where COVID-19 has sustained widespread community transmission;
    • Been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital, or health agency;
    • Been diagnosed with or have had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19; or
    • Is experiencing a fever, cough or shortness of breath

 The Supreme Court’s Amended Order is effective from March 25, 2020, until the Court issues a further order.

 United States District Court for the District of Idaho: 

  • The federal courthouse in Pocatello will be closed for two weeks, from March 23, 2020, to April 6, 2020, because a person working in the courthouse tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after recent travel. That person has been in self-quarantine since returning from the travel. However, the Pocatello courthouse will be closed as a precautionary measure against the possible spread of the virus.
  • All live evidentiary hearings in civil, criminal, and bankruptcy cases that are scheduled for a court appearance before any judge in the Pocatello Courthouse are continued pending issuance of a further order by the presiding judge in the case. Inquiries regarding the status of a specific hearing or other proceeding should be directed to the chambers of the presiding judge
  • The fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the James A. McClure Federal Building in Boise, Idaho, is closed to the public, except for those persons who have court business as a party, counsel, witness, or victim.
  • The Coeur d’Alene federal courthouse is closed to the public, except for those persons who have court business as a party, counsel, witness, or victim.
  • All jury trials scheduled to begin on or before May 11, 2020, are continued until further order of the Court.
  • Until further notice, no in-person civil case hearings or proceedings will be conducted unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge. All motions will be decided on the briefs unless all parties join in a request for a hearing, in which case the hearing will be conducted by video or telephone proceedings on a case-by-case basis.
  • Until further notice, no in-person bankruptcy case hearings or proceedings will be conducted unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge. All pending and future court hearings will either be continued or scheduled for video or telephone proceedings on a case-by-case basis.\
  • The District of Idaho has asked persons who have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea or the Seattle-Tacoma area within the previous 14 days to not come to court. The Court continues to closely monitor the national response to the COVID-19 and will post any future changes or updates on its website.

What the Parties Can Do:

Many aspects of civil litigation may still proceed as normal, including: 

  1. Litigants can still file pleadings, motions, and other documents with the court.
  2. Parties can still send out and answer written discovery, including requests for documents. If a responding party faces delays in accessing and gathering responsive documents due to business disruptions, the parties should, consistent with applicable Rules of Professional Conduct, work to agree on reasonable extensions.
  3. Depositions can occur on a completely remote basis upon stipulation of the parties be taken by telephone or other remote means. This includes a court reporter administering the oath to the witness via video or telephone. Every person who would otherwise attend a deposition in-person can do so in a separate remote location. The deposition is deemed to have taken place where the deponent answers the questions.
  4. Upon stipulation, depositions may also be taken via written questions pursuant to Rule 31 of the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 31 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Despite the difficulties presented by COVID-19, Parsons Behle & Latimer’s Boise and Idaho Falls offices remain committed to providing our clients with exceptional service and legal representation. The firm is closely monitoring the impact of this situation on Idaho courts and will provide additional updates as needed. To speak to Jameson Rammell on this or other-related matters in the Idaho Falls area, call (208) 522-6700 or send an email to jrammell@parsonsbehle.com. In the Boise area, call (208) 562-4900 or send an email to Brook Bond at bbond@parsonsbehle.com.