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IDAHO STATE COURTS STILL ONLINE – FEDERAL COURTS BEGIN REOPENING
May 19, 2020


All information in this COVID-19 Response Resource issue is effective as of May 19, 2020.

The State of Idaho is actively reopening under Governor Little’s staged reopening plan. Idaho state courts remained closed, but proceedings are being conducted virtually. Idaho federal courts have implemented a plan to reopen consistent with Governor Little’s plan. Below are the details of the current operations of Idaho’s state and federal courts as of May 18, 2020. 

State Courts: 

Chief Justice Burdick of the Idaho Supreme Court issued an order to take effect on May 1, 2020, replacing the Court’s prior order of April 21, 2020. The following are some significant portions of the order: 

  • No jury trials in civil cases may occur until October 5, 2020. 
  • All other court proceedings may be held remotely using video conferencing or teleconferencing. 
  • Judges have discretion to impose other requirements to “promote the safety of participants, to promote efficiency, and to protect the integrity of the remote proceeding.” 
  • A presiding judge may, “in the exercise of discretion and after making findings on the record,” determine that a proceeding must be held in person, in which case the judge may postpone the hearing or “allow an in-person hearing to the extent necessary to enable the court to consider the matter.” 
  • All Idaho Supreme Court hearings scheduled in June 2020 will be conducted via Zoom video conferencing. 
  • No judge may be disqualified without cause under the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure, Criminal Rules, and Rules of Family Law Procedure while the Supreme Court’s order is in effect. 
  • All staff and visitors in a courthouse must wear a mask, maintain social distancing of at least six feet apart and comply with relevant orders restricting the number of persons that may gather together. 
  • The Administrative District Judge has discretion to impose further restrictions and limitations in which courthouses are uses, including restrictions on in-person proceedings. 

Federal Courts: 

Chief Judge Nye of the United States District Court and Chief Judge Meier of the United States Bankruptcy Court issued General Order No. 367 that generally extended General Order 362 but implemented court reopening plans in line with Idaho Governor Little’s staged reopening plans for the State of Idaho. Among the significant pronouncements: 

  • Idaho moved to Stage 2 of reopening on May 16, 2020. Federal courthouses remain closed to the public except to those individuals attending hearings. In-person hearings may occur with no more than 10 people in the courtroom. No jury trials will be held in State 2. 
  • When Idaho moves to Stage 3, the federal courthouses will open to the public, and jury trials may resume. 
  • All persons in public areas of the federal courthouses and courtrooms must wear facemasks. The presiding judge has discretion to determine whether witnesses testifying on the witness stand will be required to wear face masks. 
  • Individuals must maintain six feet of physical distancing. 

These operating procedures are current as of May 19, 2020. For updated information, visit the courts’ websites. 

To contact Christina Hardesty, call (208) 562.4878 or send an email to chardesty@parsonsbehle.com.