Recap of 2023 Idaho State Bar Annual Meeting

By Teresa A. Baker

Justice Roger S. Burdick giving remarks after accepting this year’s Distinguished Jurist Award. Photo by Lindsey Welfley.

The 2023 Idaho State Bar Annual Meeting was held in Boise at Jack’s Urban Meeting Place (“JUMP”) from July 19th through the 21st.

The meeting kicked off with the Distinguished Lawyer, Distinguished Jurist, and Outstanding Young Lawyer Awards Reception on Wednesday evening.  The awards ceremony began with President Laird B. Stone serving as the Master of Ceremonies with over 150 guests in attendance.  The recipients of the 2023 Distinguished Lawyer Awards were Larry C. Hunter of Boise and Marvin M. Smith of Idaho Falls.  The Distinguished Jurist Award was presented to the Honorable Roger S. Burdick, former Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court.  The Outstanding Young Lawyer Award was presented to Ashley R. Marelius of Boise.  Each award recipient was introduced with a short video of an interview by a colleague or friend and then each graciously accepted their award at the podium.  Ms. Marelius’ award was accepted by her law partners, as she was unable to be in attendance.

Thursday morning, July 20th, began with a Plenary Session in which President Stone gave an update on the state of the Bar and Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice G. Richard Bevan gave an update on the state of the Idaho Courts.  President Stone then introduced the keynote speaker, Jerry V. Teplitz, J.D., Ph.D. Dr. Teplitz spoke on the importance of attorney well-being and gave participants techniques and tools to increase their level of energy and productivity to better serve clients and themselves.  A total of 5.5 CLE credits were offered on Thursday with two different breakout sessions offered.  The late afternoon CLE session featured a session entitled “Preserving Independence, Impartiality, and Excellence in Idaho’s Court System: A Remarkable Judiciary, If You Can Keep It,” and featured a distinguished panel that was moderated by Idaho State Bar Commissioner Mary V. York.  The panel included Justice Jim Jones, Former Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, Hon. Karen L. Lansing, retired member of the Idaho Court of Appeals, J. Philip Reberger, Idaho Judicial Council, and Donald L. Burnett, Jr., Dean Emeritus at the University of Idaho College of Law and an inaugural member of the Idaho Court of Appeals.  The session was informative and thought-provoking for all.

During a Noon luncheon, the Idaho State Bar and Idaho Law Foundation Service Awards were presented with over 125 people in attendance. Seven lawyers from around the Gem State who have provided volunteer time to support the work of the Bar and the Law Foundation were honored including:

Outgoing President Laird Stone (left) passing the gavel to incoming President Gary Cooper (left). Photo by Lindsey Welfley.

Mia Bautista of Moscow, Charles “Clay” Gill and Emily MacMaster of Boise, Casey Simmons of Coeur d’Alene, Brent T. Wilson of Salt Lake City, along with Debbie Dudley, the recently retired controller of the Idaho State Bar. Howard Burnett of Pocatello and William “Bill” McAdam of Sandpoint were also honored but were unable to attend.  When the awards program concluded the Idaho Law Foundation held their Annual Meeting led by President Fonda L. Jovick of Sandpoint.

The Milestone Celebration and Awards Reception: Celebrating 25, 40, 50, 60 & 65 Years of Admission was held Thursday evening with over 130 people in attendance.  The longest admitted member of the Bar in attendance was William Parsons, a 65-year member and was joined by 60-year attorneys Tony Park and Hon. Jesse Walters.  The 50-year attorneys in attendance included Darrel Aherin, Ron Bruce, Linda Cook, Don Farley, James “Jim” Kaufman, Doug Nelson, Jerry Reynolds, Milton Slavin, Paul Street, Ron Twilegar, Cindy Weiss, and Hon. William Woodland. Each of these attorneys were presented with a plaque and each gave a highlight of their career. The 40- and 25-year attorneys were also honored with lapel pins for their attendance and dedication to the profession.

On Friday, July 21st an additional 4.5 CLE credits were offered to conference participants with two sets of CLE breakout sessions and the final plenary session.  This year, the annual “Lessons from the Masters” was called “Lessons from the Bench” and featured Justice Colleen D. Zahn, Idaho Supreme Court, Hon. Debora K. Grasham, U.S. Magistrate, District of Idaho, and Hon. Nancy A. Baskin, Fourth Judicial District.

At Noon a networking BBQ was held with the Section of the Year Award presented to the members of the Employment and Labor Law Section.  President Stone then passed the gavel to incoming President Gary L. Cooper who will serve as president until the next Annual Meeting in 2024.  Lastly, the door prizes from our exhibitors were drawn from the meeting attendees who visited the exhibit hall.

The Annual Meeting would not be possible without the support of our sponsors.  This year’s sponsors included platinum sponsors Idaho Trust Bank and the Fourth District Bar Association, gold sponsors University of Idaho College of Law and Clio, silver sponsors River’s Edge Mediation and the Idaho Community Foundation, and bronze sponsor Eagle Creek Recovery.

The Great Salt Lake and Idaho

By James R. Cefalo

Great Salt Lake, May 5, 2023. Photo by Lincoln Graves, KUTV News.

In recent years, there have been numerous news articles about the causes and impacts of declining water levels in the Great Salt Lake.  Idahoans may feel that Great Salt Lake water levels are Utah’s problem.  Idaho does, however, have an interest in the Great Salt Lake, because the lake is fed by streams that arise in or flow through Idaho.  This article contends that Idahoans should become familiar with the Great Salt Lake issues and monitor the actions the federal government and the State of Utah are taking to address the decline in lake levels.  This article provides some basic facts about the Great Salt Lake and its relationship to the Bear River.  Additionally, it describes how changes in laws, regulations, and policies related to the Great Salt Lake could affect water users in Idaho, particularly those water users located in the Bear River Basin.  The State of Idaho and its water users in the Bear River Basin should carefully monitor the actions intended to restore the Great Salt Lake to ensure those actions do not negatively impact water users in Idaho.

Great Salt Lake Basics

The Great Salt Lake is a terminal lake, meaning it has no natural outlet to the ocean.[i]  It is the largest saline lake in the Western Hemisphere.[ii]  The major tributaries to the Great Salt Lake are the Jordan River, which collects water from rivers and streams in the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City and Provo, the Weber River, and the Bear River.[iii]  Of these three rivers, the Bear River is the largest tributary, accounting for approximately 60% of the freshwater entering the lake each year.[iv]

Water levels in the Great Salt Lake have been regularly monitored since the pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley in the mid-1800s.[v]  In 1986, the lake reached a historic maximum level at an elevation of 4,211.7 feet above sea level.[vi]  At that level, the surface area of the lake is over 3,300 square miles.[vii]  In November 2022, the lake reached a historic low at an elevation of 4,188.6 feet above sea level, roughly 23 feet lower than the high point in 1986.[viii]  At the historic low water level, the surface area of the lake is only 950 square miles.[ix]  To conserve water and prevent evaporation, the State of Utah has blocked off channels to the north arm of the lake, significantly reducing the active surface area of the lake.[x]

Diagram/map of the Bear River system spanning portions of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. Common use map courtesy of the Bear River Commission.
Bear River Basics

The Bear River is an interstate stream that flows through the southeast corner of Idaho.[xi]  Its headwaters are in the Uinta Mountains in Utah.[xii]  The Bear River flows from Utah into Wyoming, near Evanston, then back into Utah, then back into Wyoming, then flows into Idaho just east of Montpelier.[xiii]  The Bear River flows north from Montpelier to Soda Springs, then turns south and flows past the communities of Grace and Preston before flowing back into Utah north of Logan, Utah.[xiv]  The river flows into the Great Salt Lake on the east side of the lake, just west of Brigham City, Utah.[xv]  Although the Bear River is over 500 miles long, it empties into the Great Salt Lake just 90 miles from its headwaters.[xvi]

In Idaho, the Bear River is primarily diverted for direct irrigation use. It is also diverted to fill Bear Lake, an augmented natural lake that also serves as a storage reservoir for downstream irrigators.  Water users in Wyoming and Utah also divert water from the Bear River and its tributaries, primarily for irrigation use.[xvii]

In 1958, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming adopted the Bear River Compact to resolve disputes about water deliveries in the Bear River Basin.[xviii]  The Compact was amended in 1980 to include provisions about future water development within the basin.[xix]  The Amended Compact has many fascinating nuances that could entertain a water law attorney for hours.  For purposes of this article, however, it is sufficient to note that Idaho participates in a federally approved interstate compact which addresses water deliveries on the Bear River during times of shortage and governs future development of water resources within the river system.

Although the Amended Compact describes a process to initiate formal administration of water rights by priority date in the Lower Division (which extends from Bear Lake to the Great Salt Lake), the states of Utah and Idaho have voluntarily administered water rights in the Lower Division without regard to the Idaho-Utah state line.  In other words, water rights on the main channel of the Bear River between Bear Lake and the Great Salt Lake are currently regulated against a common priority date.

Bear River Diversions and Great Salt Lake Levels

Some advocates for restoring the Great Salt Lake contend that the recent decline in lake levels is caused by an increase in diversions by upstream farmers and ranchers, particularly in the Bear River Basin.  This contention fails to consider important nuances of water use in the Bear River Basin and is often presented as an attack on irrigators.

Water has been diverted from the Bear River and its tributaries for irrigation use since the late 1800s.  In Idaho, many of the water rights for irrigation use from the Bear River or its tributaries bear priority dates senior to 1900, meaning the water rights were developed prior to 1900 and have been used for irrigation since the rights were first developed.  In drought years, like 2021 and 2022, because of a limited surface water supply, the only water rights from the Bear River and its tributaries receiving water through most of the summer are those rights with priority dates senior to 1900.  In drought years, junior water rights (those with priority dates later than 1900) on the Bear River and its surface water tributaries have little impact on water levels in the Great Salt Lake because those water rights receive little or no water.

As part of the 1980 Amended Compact, the states of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming agreed to track future depletions in the Bear River Basin.[xx]  In April 2023, the Bear River Commission approved a report summarizing the depletions occurring in the Bear River Basin since 1976.[xxi]  According to the report, since 1976, there have been only 14,410 acre-feet of additional depletions developed above Stewart Dam (located near Montpelier, Idaho) and only 11,307 acre-feet of additional depletions developed between Stewart Dam and the Great Salt Lake.[xxii]  In total, the water developments occurring after 1976 only consume approximately 26,000 acre-feet of water.  To put that number into perspective, at the historic low water level in November 2022, the Great Salt Lake contained approximately 4.5 million acre-feet of water.[xxiii]

The 2023 report shows there have been very minor changes to the annual depletions occurring in the Bear River Basin since 1976.  In fact, in some areas of the basin, total depletions are lower today than in 1976.[xxiv]  The Great Salt Lake hit its maximum recorded lake level in 1986.  The total water use from the Bear River has only slightly increased since 1986, yet the lake levels have declined dramatically.  What has changed?  The answer is simple: snowpack, or lack thereof.  Between 1982 and 1986 (the historical maximum lake level), the Bear River Basin had consecutive years of above-average snowpack.  In the 10 years prior to 2023, the Bear River Basin had only one year with snowpack significantly above the average (2017), four years with near average snowpack (2014, 2016, 2019, and 2020), and five years of below average snowpack (2013, 2015, 2018, 2021, and 2022).[xxv]

To a large extent, the use of surface water in the Bear River drainage has remained steady for nearly 150 years, particularly in drought years, when junior rights are curtailed.  Despite this steady historical irrigation use, the Great Salt Lake reached a maximum recorded lake level in 1986.  Although water users in the Bear River Basin have some impact on lake levels, it seems unfair to solely blame those water users for the current woes of the Great Salt Lake.

Future Development in the Bear River Basin

It is important to note that the opportunities for additional water development in the Bear River Basin in Idaho are quite limited.  In Idaho, the Bear River and its tributaries have been considered fully appropriated during the irrigation season since the early 1980s.  In 2001, the Bear River Basin in Idaho was designated as a Ground Water Management Area (“GWMA”), pursuant to Idaho Code § 42-233b.  As such, the depletions (consumptive use) associated with new ground water uses (except for small domestic and stock water uses) must be fully mitigated by commensurate reductions in consumptive use.

The Malad River originates in Idaho and flows into the Bear River in Utah.  In November 2015, the Idaho Department of Water Resources issued a moratorium on new appropriations from ground water in Malad Valley.  Like the Bear River GWMA, new consumptive uses of ground water in Malad Valley (except for small domestic and stock water uses) must be fully mitigated.

Utah has taken similar steps to restrict future development in the Bear River Basin in Utah.  Because of concerns about Great Salt Lake levels, on November 3, 2022, Governor Cox of Utah issued Proclamation No. 2022-01, suspending the appropriation of the surplus and unappropriated water of the Great Salt Lake and its tributaries, including the Bear River.[xxvi]  The proclamation does not have a specific term or sunset provision but does call for the State Engineer to prepare a report evaluating whether the proclamation should remain in effect.[xxvii]

Federal Action

The federal government is also acting on Great Salt Lake concerns.  In December 2022, President Biden signed the Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act of 2022, which authorizes the United States Geological Society (“USGS”) to create a program “to assess and monitor the hydrology of saline lake ecosystems in the Great Basin,” including the Great Salt Lake.[xxviii]  The USGS will work with Tribal, Federal, and State agencies, nonprofit organizations, universities, and local stakeholders to prepare a report describing specific actions needed to improve data collection for the assessment of saline lakes in the West.[xxix]  The act allocates $25 million over five years to complete the report and implement the assessment and monitoring programs.[xxx]  Of note, the act states that it shall have no effect on existing water rights, interstate compacts, or the management and operation of Bear Lake.[xxxi]

“Saved Water” for the Great Salt Lake

On March 14, 2023, Governor Cox of Utah signed S.B. 277, which significantly revised Utah’s laws related to water conservation.  S.B. 277 creates an “agricultural water optimization” program, which allows Utah irrigators to apply for grants to install water conservation infrastructure.  The statute identifies the water conserved through these infrastructure projects as “saved water.”  In addition, S.B. 277 describes a process by which a water user in Utah can file a change application (transfer application) to designate a portion of their water right as “saved water.”  The saved water can then be sold or leased to others and possibly sold or leased to the State of Utah to increase water levels in the Great Salt Lake.[xxxii]  Moving saved water to a new location or dedicating the saved water to a new use raises concerns about injury to other water users and enlargement of use.  The following hypothetical illustrates these concerns.

Agricultural operations in Franklin County, Idaho. Photo from Idaho Farm Bureau Federation,

Assume Farmer Stewart diverts water from Canyon Creek.  Also assume Stewart’s existing irrigation system is fairly inefficient – open ditches and flood irrigation.  Although Stewart diverts 10 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water, his crops only consume about 60% (6 cfs) of the water.  The remaining 40% (4 cfs) returns to Canyon Creek, either on the surface or subsurface, and is used to satisfy downstream water rights.  Assume Stewart now installs pipelines and a drip irrigation system to become more efficient.  Stewart’s crops continue to consume about 6 cfs, but now Stewart only diverts 6 cfs because his system is so efficient.  The remaining (undiverted) 4 cfs is “saved water.”  If the 4 cfs is simply left in the creek, it could still be used to satisfy downstream water rights.  If, on the other hand, Stewart is allowed to sell or lease the 4 cfs to another water user or dedicate the 4 cfs to lake recovery, the 4 cfs is no longer available to satisfy downstream water rights.  To satisfy downstream water rights (that used to rely on the 4 cfs of return flow from Stewart), upstream junior water rights (possibly junior water rights in other states) would have to be curtailed to replace the 4 cfs of saved water sold or leased by Stewart.

In Idaho, a water user may convey all or a portion of a water right to another person.  Idaho Code § 42-222(1) states that this type of conveyance can be approved, provided the change does not injure other water rights or result in an enlargement of use under the original right.  To protect against injury and enlargement, when a water user proposes to change the nature of use of a water right, such as from irrigation to municipal use, the State of Idaho limits the new use to the consumptive portion of the water right to be changed.  Statutes governing change applications in Utah contain similar protections against injury and enlargement.[xxxiii]

It is unclear whether S.B. 277 revises Utah’s protections against injury and enlargement for change applications involving saved water.  S.B. 277 distinguishes between “depletion reduction,” which means a “net decrease in water consumed,” and “diversion reduction,” which means a “decrease in the net diversion amount from that allowed under a water right.”[xxxiv]  In one section, S.B. 277 suggests that water users will only be able to convert depletion reductions from irrigation use to “saved water.”[xxxv]  In other areas, however, S.B. 277 states that “saved water” is comprised of depletion reductions and diversion reductions.[xxxvi]  This is a critical question.  If “saved water” includes diversion reductions and can now be dedicated to fully consumptive uses, like Great Salt Lake restoration, there could be significant injury and enlargement impacts for upstream water users, including water users in Idaho.

The Great Salt Lake is a unique and valuable ecosystem and Utah’s efforts to restore and preserve the lake are commendable.  These restoration and preservation efforts, however, cannot come at the expense of water rights or water users in Idaho.  Over the coming years, as Utah begins to apply S.B. 277, Idahoans must pay close attention to how the water conservation program is implemented to ensure that changes involving “saved water” do not shift impacts to water users in Idaho.

James R. Cefalo is the Eastern Regional Manager for the Idaho Department of Water Resources (“IDWR”). He received a bachelor’s degree in civil in environmental engineering from the University of Utah and a J.D. from the University of Colorado. James was born and raised in Brigham City, Utah, which lies just east of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and are not the opinions or positions of IDWR or the State of Idaho.

[i] Wayne Wurtsbaugh, Craig Miller, Sarah Null, Peter Wilcock, Maura Hahnenberger, Frank Howe, Impacts of Water Development on Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Front, Watershed Sciences Faculty Publications (Feb. 24, 2015).

[ii] Great Salt Lake, Utah Division of Water Resources,

[iii] Wurtsbaugh, supra note 1, at 1. 

[iv] Id.

[v] Great Salt Lake, supra note 1.

[vi] Id.

[vii] Id.

[viii] Id.

[ix] Id.

[x] Great Salt Lake, supra note 1; Utah Exec. Order 2023-02 (Feb. 23, 2023) (ordering the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands to raise the berm around the causeway bridge, which spans the channel connecting the North Arm of the Great Salt Lake to the main body of the lake, to 4,192 feet above sea level); see also Ben Winslow, Water now spilling over emergency causeway berm in the Great Salt Lake, Fox 13 News, (reporting that water was spilling over the emergency berm in May 2023 because of increased lake levels). 

[xi] (diagram of Bear River Basin prepared by the Bear River Commission).

[xii] Id.

[xiii] Id.

[xiv] Id.

[xv] Id.

[xvi] The Bear River, Wyoming State Water Plan, Wyoming Water Development Office,

[xvii] Id. (Between Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, over 500,000 acres are irrigated from the Bear River and its tributaries).

[xviii] The Bear River Commission, an entity created through the Bear River Compact, prepared an excellent report of the disputes and negotiations leading up to the ratification of the 1958 Compact and the 1980 Amended Compact.  The report, written by Wallace N. Jibson and titled “History of the Bear River Compact,” can be found on the commission’s website:

[xix] I.C. § 42-3402, Article V.

[xx] I.C. § 42-3402, Article V(C).

[xxi] 2019 Depletions Update (April 18, 2023) at 2.  The 2019 Depletions Update is a report prepared by the Technical Advisory Committee for the Bear River Commission and does not identify authors by name.  It was adopted by the commission at its annual meeting on April 18, 2023.

[xxii] Id.  An acre-foot of water is a measurement of volume, one foot deep covering one acre, and is equal to 325,850 gallons of water.

[xxiii] See Robert L. Baskin, Calculation of Area and Volume for the South Part of the Great Salt Lake, United States Geological Survey (2005),

[xxiv] 2019 Depletions Update (April 18, 2023) at 2 (Utah’s depletions downstream of the Idaho-Utah state line are 5,336 acre-feet less today than in 1976).

[xxv] (displaying annual snowpack data collected by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service).

[xxvi] Utah Proclamation 2022-01, Utah Code § 73-61 (Nov. 3, 2022).  The proclamation restrictions do not apply to non-consumptive uses or appropriations of small amounts of water.  Id.

[xxvii] Id.

[xxviii] Pub. L. No. 117-318, 136 Stat. 4421 (2002).

[xxix] Id.

[xxx] Id.

[xxxi] Id.

[xxxii] Amy Joi O-Donoghue, Shift in Utah Water Law could be “Game changer’ for the Great Salt Lake, Deseret News (March 7, 2023).

[xxxiii] Utah Code § 73-3-3(1)(e).

[xxxiv] Utah Code § 73-10g-203.5(7) and (8).

[xxxv] Utah Code § 73-10g-208(1)(a).

[xxxvi] Utah Code §§ 73-10g-203.5(10), 73-10g-208(2).

Sackett v. EPA: North Idaho’s Clean Water Act Wild Card[i]

By Norman M. Semanko

The Clean Water Act (“the Act”) has become fertile ground for extensive litigation in the federal courts. And no issue has been more prominent than the Act’s jurisdictional trigger term, “navigable waters,” defined in the Act simply as “the waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”).[ii] This determines whether projects and other activities require federal permits to discharge into, dredge, or fill waters.[iii] The most recent addition to this series of cases, Sackett v. Env’t Prot. Agency,[iv] provides an updated definition of WOTUS and comes to us from Bonner County. This article provides a brief background of the litigation before Sackett, the route by which Sackett arrived at the Supreme Court of the United States, the Court’s updated definition of WOTUS as provided in Sackett’s majority opinion, and some thoughts on what comes after Sackett.

Setting the Stage for Sackett

For 50 years, the question of what constitutes “the waters of the United States” was left to the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine through rulemaking and associated guidance and manuals. While the U.S. Supreme Court came tantalizingly close to announcing a WOTUS test in Rapanos v. United States,[v] it ultimately failed to deliver a majority opinion in that case.

In Rapanos, a plurality opinion of four Justices, authored by Justice Scalia, concluded that “waters” encompasses “only those relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water ‘forming geographic[al] features’ that are described in ordinary parlance as ‘streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes.’”[vi] Under the plurality test, “the waters of the United States” are relatively permanent bodies of water connected to traditional interstate navigable waters through a continuous surface connection.[vii] One Justice concurred with the plurality in the result (that wetlands near ditches and drains that eventually emptied into navigable waters at least 11 miles away were not jurisdictional under the Act) – but not in its reasoning. This broader interpretation of jurisdiction under the Act found that “the waters of the United States” include those waters and adjacent wetlands that possess a “significant nexus” to traditional navigable waters.[viii]

Since Rapanos, the scope of “navigable waters” has gone back and forth – expanding and contracting – thereby resembling a game of ping pong between different Presidential Administrations.[ix] All of that changed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s May 25, 2023 ruling in Sackett v. EPA.[x]Interestingly enough, the story begins and ends in North Idaho.

The Sacketts’ Route to the Supreme Court

Michael and Chantell Sackett own a small piece of property near Priest Lake, in Bonner County, Idaho. The Sacketts wanted to build a home on their lot and began to fill it with dirt and rocks in preparation for the construction. The EPA stepped in and issued a compliance order to the Sacketts, threatening civil penalties of approximately $40,000 per day and informing them that their activities violated the Act because their property contained jurisdictional wetlands. The Sacketts maintained that the EPA had no jurisdiction over their property under the Act.[xi]

After several years of proceedings, the U.S. District Court entered summary judgment for the EPA and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the Act covers adjacent wetlands with a significant nexus to traditional navigable waters and that the Sacketts’ lot satisfied that standard.[xii] The Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide the proper test for determining whether wetlands are “waters of the United States.”[xiii]

At the time that Sackett was under consideration in the Ninth Circuit, litigation brought in numerous federal district courts by states and various groups, challenging the regulatory definition of WOTUS, was calculated to result in the issue ultimately being taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. As predicted, however, Sackett proved to be the wild card that actually made it to the Supreme Court.[xiv]

The Sackett Majority Opinion Explained

Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court on behalf of a majority of five Justices.[xv] The Court held that the Act only applies to wetlands that have a “continuous surface connection” with “waters of the United States.”[xvi] In doing so, the opinion expressly adopted Justice Scalia’s plurality opinion from Rapanos. It also rejected Justice Kennedy’s “significant nexus” test.[xvii]

The Sackett majority opinion adopted Justice Scalia’s Rapanos conclusion that “waters” in the Act encompasses “only those relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water forming geographic[al] features that are described in ordinary parlance as streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes,” also referred to as “traditional navigable waters.”[xviii] Further, the opinion concluded that wetlands are included within “waters of the United States” and must therefore “qualify as waters of the United States in their own right.” The wetlands must be “indistinguishably part of a body of water that itself constitutes waters of the United States.”[xix]  As the plurality stated in Rapanos, the term “waters” in the Act “may fairly be read to include only those wetlands that are as a practical matter indistinguishable from waters of the United States, such that it is difficult to determine where the ‘water’ ends and the ‘wetland’ begins.”[xx] Such “indistinguishability” only “occurs when wetlands have a continuous surface connection to bodies that are waters of the United States in their own right so that there is no clear demarcation between ‘waters’ and wetlands. […] Wetlands that are separate from traditional navigable waters cannot be considered part of those waters, even if they are located nearby.”[xxi]

What’s Next?

Even with the Sackett majority opinion now firmly in place, litigation is sure to continue, including ongoing challenges to the Biden Administration’s WOTUS Rule,[xxii] which is underpinned by the now defunct “significant nexus” test.[xxiii] Already, the Biden Rule has been stayed in 27 states – including Idaho – while the federal courts ultimately proceed to determine its validity under the Act.[xxiv] Idaho and Texas have jointly filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking to strike down the Biden WOTUS Rule in its entirety as being in violation of the Supreme Court’s holding in Sackett.[xxv]

In the meantime, the Biden Administration has indicated that it will revise its existing WOTUS Rule no later than September 1, 2023, in an attempt to conform to the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett.[xxvi] This move may also be susceptible to legal challenges, depending upon how the rule change is accomplished – with or without notice and an opportunity for public comment – and whether it is successful in actually adhering to the Court’s pronouncements in Sackett.

Whether the game of regulatory ping pong is over or not, Sackett proved itself as the wild card in what turned out to be a winning hand before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Norman M. Semanko is the Managing Shareholder in the Boise office of Parsons, Behle & Latimer. His practice includes a variety of natural resource and environmental law matters, with a particular emphasis on water. He readily admits to occasionally playing penny-ante poker (yes, the joker is a wild card) while growing up in North Idaho.

[i] A wild card is “an unknown or unpredictable factor” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2023.

[ii] 33 U.S.C. § 1362(7).

[iii] 33 U.S.C. §§ 1342, 1344.

[iv] 143 S. Ct. 1322 (2023).

[v] 547 U.S. 715 (2006).

[vi] 547 U.S. at 739 (plurality opinion).

[vii] 547 U.S. at 742, 755 (plurality opinion).

[viii] 547 U.S. at 759, 779-780 (opinion of Kennedy, J.).

[ix] Norman M. Semanko, Red Paddle-Blue Paddle: Clean Water Act Ping Pong, 64 Advocate 22 (2021).

[x] 598 U.S. ___, 143 S.Ct. 1322 (2023).

[xi] See generally, Sackett v. EPA, 566 U.S. 120 (2012) (also known as “Sackett I” to distinguish it from the 2023 case) (holding that EPA compliance order was final agency action and therefore subject to review under the APA).

[xii] 8 F.4th 1075, 1091-93 (2021).

[xiii] 595 U.S. ___ (2022).

[xiv] 64 Advocate 22 (2021).

[xv] The Ninth Circuit’s decision was reversed and remanded, 9-0. In addition to Justice Alito’s majority opinion, concurring opinions were penned by Justices Thomas, Kagan, and Kavanaugh.

[xvi] 143 S.Ct. at 1322.

[xvii] Id. at 1341-43.

[xviii] Id. at 1336-37 (citing 547 U.S. at 739).

[xix] Id. at 1339.

[xx] 547 U.S. at 742.

[xxi] 143 S.Ct. at 1340.

[xxii] 88 Fed. Reg. 3004 (2023).

[xxiii] Id. at 3006, 3143.

[xxiv] (accessed July 6, 2023).

[xxv] States’ Motion for Summary Judgment, Case No. 3:23-cv-00017 (S.D. Tex. June 28, 2023).

[xxvi] (accessed July 6, 2023).

Curtailing Water Use in a Good Water Year?

By Meghan M. Carter

No doubt many of you have seen these or similar headlines this spring: “Possible Water Curtailments Even in a Good Year”[i] and “New Idaho Department of Water Resources Order Would Force 900 Groundwater Users to Curtail Use.”[ii] These news stories were in response to an order issued by the Idaho Department of Water Resources (“Department”) in April. The order outlines the updated methodology the Department uses to determine injury to surface water users in the Eastern Snake Plain by groundwater users diverting water from the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer.[iii]

Understanding what the headlines mean can stump even a seasoned water law attorney. Fear not, in this article I will provide some history, terminology, and summaries of where things stand today with water use on the Eastern Snake Plain.

The Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer

This spring’s headlines are rooted in the history of water use on the Eastern Snake Plain and the hydrologic connection between surface water and the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer (“ESPA”). Surface water percolates through the ground to the ESPA which underlies some 10,800 square miles of southern Idaho.[iv] The ESPA has a strong hydrologic connection to the Snake River, and it discharges to the Snake River through gaining reaches and springs. Most natural inputs to the ESPA come from mountain runoff. However, incidental recharge from irrigation practices on the Eastern Snake Plain in the early 20th Century massively and artificially increased ESPA water levels and subsequently increased discharge to the Snake River.[v]

In the early 1950s, irrigation practices started to change. Sprinkler irrigation began to be favored over flood irrigation, and demand for water increased. In addition, pumping technology and cheaper energy prices lead to increased groundwater pumping.  These trends paired with a series of droughts resulted in reduced water recharge to the aquifer, greater groundwater extraction from the aquifer, and a steady decline in the volume of water in the ESPA.[vi]

Following a three-year downtrend in aquifer levels, Department data shows that 2023’s aquifer levels are approaching the lowest since the 1950s.[vii] These declines are occurring despite above-average snowpack in the mountains feeding the ESPA this year.[viii]

Interlude for Some Water Law

Idaho is a prior appropriation state, meaning the first (senior) use of water takes priority over subsequent (junior) uses of that same water.[ix] This is a harsh legal doctrine that does not place a value on the type of water use. Nor does prior appropriation allow for the reduction of water use across all water users. Instead, the senior user’s water right is fully met before junior users can take any water.

The process the Department uses to administer water rights in priority is called water rights administration. If a senior water use is not being met, the water user can file a delivery call with the Department. A delivery call is a request for water rights administration seeking to have the Department ensure senior water uses are met before junior water uses.[x] Once a delivery call is filed, the Department determines whether the senior water use is being materially injured and if so, which junior water rights should be curtailed.

Idaho administers groundwater and surface water conjunctively. This means if there is a known and legally recognized hydraulic connection between groundwater and surface water, they are administered together in priority.[xi] The Department uses a groundwater model, the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer Model (“ESPAM”), to help conjunctively administer water use on the Eastern Snake Plain. ESPAM models groundwater inputs and outputs throughout the ESPA based on differing weather and irrigation practices. The effort to develop ESPAM started in 2000.[xii] Version 1.1 was used between 2005 and early 2012. Version 2.1 was used thereafter until   Version 2.2, was released in 2021.[xiii]

Because surface water use was generally developed before groundwater use, many groundwater rights are junior to surface water rights. The dynamic has resulted in fierce conflict between surface and groundwater users in the Eastern Snake Plain.

The Surface Water Coalition Delivery Call

In 2005, conflict between surface and groundwater users over reduced availability of surface water came to a head. A group of surface water irrigation entities, known as the Surface Water Coalition (“Coalition”) filed a delivery call with the Department, asking for the Department to curtail junior groundwater use to ensure adequate water supply for senior surface water users.[xiv]

The Coalition’s delivery call alleged that “data collected by the United States Bureau of Reclamation over the past six years indicates an approximate 30% reduction in reach gains to the Snake River between Blackfoot and Neeley, a loss of about 600,000 acre-feet.”[xv] Further, “[t]he recently recalibrated ESPA groundwater model identifies groundwater pumping as a major contributor to declines in the source of water fulfilling senior surface water rights.”[xvi]

The Director of the Department issued an interlocutory order within a month of the Coalition’s delivery call,[xvii] amending or supplementing the order several times, ultimately issuing his seventh supplemental order in 2007.[xviii] A hearing was held in 2008.[xix]

After the hearing, the Director issued an order, concluding that “[g]round water pumping has hindered [Coalition] members in the use of their water rights by diverting water that would otherwise go to fulfill natural flow or storage rights.”[xx] However, he ultimately determined that “junior groundwater users could continue to divert if they provided water in the amount of predicted shortage to members of the SWC that were attributable to their depletions.”[xxi]

The Director also concluded that “requiring curtailment to reach beyond the next irrigation season involves too many variables and too great a likelihood of irrigation water being lost […] .”[xxii] Therefore, the Director held that ongoing administration is needed, which brings us to the “Methodology Order” and its subsequent amendments through 2023.[xxiii]

The Methodology Orders

Because the Coalition’s water supply varies from year to year, ongoing administration requires a yearly evaluation of water availability and water need. That yearly evaluation is outlined in what is known as the Methodology Order, first issued in 2010 (and amended numerous times since). The Methodology Order is “a single, cohesive document by which the Director will quantify material injury in terms of reasonable in-season demand and reasonable carryover.”[xxiv]

The terms “material injury,” reasonable in-season demand (“RISD”), and “reasonable carryover” represent key concepts in the Methodology Order. “Material Injury” is defined as “[h]inderance to or impact upon the exercise of a water right caused by the use of water by another person as determined in accordance with Idaho law […].”[xxv] A determination of material injury depends upon a number of factors, including the amount of water available from the senior’s water source, the efficiency of the senior’s water system, and the availability of alternative points of diversion for the senior’s water rights.[xxvi] RISD is the projected volume of water needed during the relevant evaluation year to grow crops within each entity’s service area.[xxvii] The RISD is calculated using historic demands of a baseline year or years (“BLY”) as “corrected during the season to account for variations in climate and water supply between the BLY and actual conditions.”[xxviii] Reasonable carryover is “the difference between a baseline year demand and projected typical dry year supply.”[xxix]

The Methodology Order outlines nine steps for making a material injury determination each year. The steps can be summarized as follows. In April, the Department makes a prediction of how the demand for the upcoming irrigation season compares to the previous year’s carryover. If there is a predicted shortage, groundwater users must demonstrate “their ability to secure and provide a volume of storage water or to conduct other approved mitigation activities that will provide water to the injured members of the [Coalition].”[xxx] Next, during the mid-irrigation season (usually in July), the Department will evaluate actual crop water needs, issue a revised forecast of supply, and establish when groundwater users must provide the Coalition with water that year.[xxxi] At the end of the irrigation season, the Department determines the amount of carryover water that is owed to the Coalition.[xxxii]

The process outlined in the Methodology Order allows the Department to timely administer water rights in the Eastern Snake Plain so that the Coalition does not suffer material injury to its water rights.

Changes to the Methodology Order

The Methodology Order has been amended several times to address legal findings made by the Water Court[xxxiii] upon judicial review. However, the Fifth Amended Methodology Order, issued in April 2023, made changes based on the Department’s further data acquisition and additional analyses. The changes were made because “the Director should use available data, and consider new analytical methods or modeling concepts, to evaluate the methodology.”[xxxiv]

Specifically, the Fifth Amended Methodology Order contains two significant changes. First, while the Fourth Amended Methodology Order used an average of the years 2006, 2008, and 2012 for the BLY, the Department determined that data obtained from 2014-2021 indicated that particular average of years no longer satisfied the criteria for a BLY.[xxxv] The Director found that the criteria for a BLY were satisfied by 2018 and 2020.[xxxvi]  The Director then selected 2018 as the new BLY, concluding that using 2018 for the BLY “protects the senior while excluding extreme years from consideration.”[xxxvii]

Second, the ESPAM analysis was changed from steady-state to transient simulation. Steady-state is a condition of a system that does not change in time,[xxxviii] whereas transient simulation attempts to predict changes over time. Early versions of ESPAM used a steady-state analysis to calculate impacts of water use on the ESPA. When using a steady-state analysis, ESPAM “can only model increases in aquifer discharge to the Snake River resulting from continuous curtailments of an identical magnitude and location until the impacts of curtailment are fully realized.”[xxxix] This calculation does not account for the time to reach steady state or when the impacts would be realized. The current ESPAM can perform a transient simulation which “predict[s] the timing of changes in river reach gains.”[xl]

To illustrate the difference between steady-state and transient model simulation, the Director ran ESPAM simulations using both steady-state and transient for 2023.  The Director found that curtailment using the steady-state analysis will only offset 9-15% of the predicted shortfall, while a transient analysis will offset the full predicted shortfall.[xli] This means that using transient analysis stands to provide the senior water users more water at the time and place needed.  But it also means that the Department would have to curtail more junior groundwater rights to meet the needs of the Coalition in a particular year.

The Director of the Department held a hearing on the Fifth Amended Methodology Order in June 2023. On July 19, 2023, the Director issued two orders. The first, Post-Hearing Order Regarding Fifth Amended Methodology Order, addresses the issues discussed at the hearing.[xlii] The second, a Sixth Final Order Regarding Methodology for Determining Material Injury to Reasonable In-Season Demand and Reasonable Carryover (“Sixth Amended Methodology Order”),[xliii] “correct[s] data in the Fifth Methodology Order found to be in error during the June 6 Hearing” and edits “other non-substantive matters in the Fifth Methodology Order.”[xliv] The Sixth Amended Methodology Order did not change the selection of BLY or the use of transient model simulations. It is expected that a petition for judicial review of the orders will be filed. Although the Sixth Amended Methodology Order is not yet set in stone, it nevertheless has implications for all water users in the Eastern Snake Plain, surface, and groundwater users alike.

Why it Matters

In April 2023, based on the Fifth Amended Methodology Order, the Director determined that “ground water rights-bearing priority dates later than December 30, 1953, must be curtailed to produce the volume of water equal to the predicted” shortfall.[xlv] This is much earlier than curtailment dates determined in April in prior years. For example, the curtailment date for 2022 was December 25, 1979,[xlvi] in 2019 it was August 25, 1991,[xlvii] and in 2016 it was February 8, 1989.[xlviii] While the mid-season evaluation of actual need showed there was no shortfall,[xlix] the changes present in the Fifth and Sixth Amended Methodology Orders are still relevant as they will continue to apply in the future.

Ordering curtailment or mitigation for a larger pool of groundwater users can be costly. The April 2023 predicted shortfall was 75,200 acre-feet of water.[l] To put that in perspective, one acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons and one dairy cow is estimated to need 35 gallons of water per day.[li] The cost for water right rentals is $23 per acre-foot, which equates to almost $1.73 million.[lii] In years where there is a water shortfall, the option to rent may not be available. The uncertainty of water rights rentals has resulted in groundwater users implementing multiple mitigation strategies, such as compensating for their use with groundwater recharge or reducing the amount of water used.[liii] Groundwater recharge requires infrastructure and groundwater users must spend money not only to build the infrastructure but to identify a suitable site and obtain water rights. Reduction of water use means less crops grown, and less money earned, which affects livelihoods and the Idaho economy. This is an issue that affects so many in Idaho, so keep your eyes open for further headlines.

Meghan M. Carter is a deputy attorney general representing the Idaho Department of Water Resources. She’s been in her position for 10 years and is amazed at what she still doesn’t know about Idaho water law. The views expressed in this article do not reflect those of the Office of the Attorney General or IDWR.

[i] Possible Water Curtailments Even in a Good Year, AG Proud (May 1, 2023),

[ii] Clark Corbin, New Idaho Department of Water Resources Order Would Force 900 Groundwater Users to Curtail Use, Idaho Capital Sun (Apr. 28, 2023),

[iii] Fifth Amended Final Order Regarding Methodology for Determining Material Injury to Reasonable In-Season Demand and Reasonable Carryover, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, American Falls Reservoir District #2, Burley Irrigation District, Milner Irrigation District, Minidoka Irrigation District, North Side Canal Company, and Twin Falls Canal Company, No. CM-DC-2010-001 (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed Apr. 21, 2023), available at

[iv] Wesley Hipke, Paul Thomas, and Noah Stewart-Maddox, Idaho’s Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer Managed Aquifer Recharge Program, 60 Groundwater 648, 648 (2022).

[v] Id. at 648–49.

[vi] Id. at 649.

[vii] Interview with Jennifer Sukow, Engineer, Idaho Dept. of Water Resources (July 5, 2023).

[viii] Water Supply Snow Water Equivalency, Idaho Department of Water Resources (Mar. 16, 2021),

[ix] I.C. § 42-106 (“As between appropriators, the first in time is first in right.”)


[xi] IDAPA

[xii] Enhanced Snake Plain Aquifer Model Version 2.1 Final Report, 4 (Jan. 18, 2013), available at

[xiii] Jennifer Sukow, Model Calibration Report Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer Model Version 2.2, Idaho Department of Water Resources (May 2021),

[xiv] Petition for Water Right Administration and Designation of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer as a Ground Water Management Area, In the Matter of the Petition for Administration by A & B Irrigation District, American Falls Reservoir District #2, Burley Irrigation District, Milner Irrigation District, Minidoka Irrigation District, North Side Canal Company, and Twin Falls Canal Company (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed Jan. 14, 2005), available at

[xv] Id. at ¶ 16

[xvi] Id.

[xvii]Order, In the Mater of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A&B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed Feb. 14, 2005), available at

[xviii]Seventh Supplemental Order Amending Replacement Water Requirements, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed Dec. 20, 2007), available at

[xix] The three-year delay between the initial conflict and the hearing on the conflict stemmed from requests for schedule changes and a case challenging the Conjunctive Management Rules, the administrative rules governing a delivery call between surface and ground water users.

[xx] Opinion Constituting Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Recommendation, 29, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed Apr. 29, 2008), available at

[xxi] Final Order Regarding the Surface Water Coalition Delivery Call, 4, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed Sept. 5, 2008), available at

[xxii] Id. at 5.

[xxiii] Id. at 6.

[xxiv] Second Amended Final Order Regarding Methodology for Determining Material Injury to Reasonable In-Season Demand and Reasonable Carryover, 2, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al., No. CM-DC-2010-001 (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed June 23, 2010), available at

[xxv] IDAPA

[xxvi] IDAPA

[xxvii] Id. at 12

[xxviii] Final Order Regarding the Surface Water Coalition Delivery Call, supra note 21, at 5.

[xxix] Second Amended Final Order Regarding Methodology for Determining Material Injury to Reasonable In-Season Demand and Reasonable Carryover, supra note 24,at 22.

[xxx] Id. at 34–36.

[xxxi] Id. at 36.

[xxxii] Id. at 37–38.

[xxxiii] Per Idaho Supreme Court Administrative Order, all petitions for judicial review regarding the administration of water rights from the Department are assigned to the Adjudication Court of the Fifth Judicial District. Administrative Order, In the Matter of the Appointment of the SRBA District Court to Hear All Petitions for Judicial Review from the Department of Water Resources Involving Administration of Water Rights, (Dec. 9, 2009), available at

[xxxiv] Fifth Amended Final Order Regarding Methodology for Determining Material Injury to Reasonable In-Season Demand and Reasonable Carryover, supra note 3, at 1.

[xxxv] Id. at 11.

[xxxvi] Id. at 12.

[xxxvii] Id.

[xxxviii] Id. at 30.

[xxxix] Id.

[xl] Id.

[xli] Id.

[xlii] Post-Hearing Order Regarding Fifth Amended Methodology Order, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed (July 19, 2023), available at

[xliii] Sixth Final Order Regarding Methodology for Determining Material Injury to Reasonable In-season Demand and Reasonable Carryover, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed July 19, 2023), available at

[xliv] Id. at 2.

[xlv] Final Order Regarding April 2023 Forecast Supply (Methodology Steps 1-3), 4, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed Apr. 21, 2023), available at

[xlvi] Final Order Regarding April 2022 Forecast Supply (Methodology Steps 1–3), 5, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed Apr. 20, 2022), available at

[xlvii] Final Order Regarding April 2019 Forecast Supply (Methodology Steps 1–3), 6, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed Apr. 11, 2019), available at

[xlviii] Final Order Regarding April 2016 Forecast Supply (Methodology Steps 1 -3), 6, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed Apr. 19, 2016), available at

[xlix] Order Revising April 2023 Forecast Supply and Amending Curtailment Order (Methodology Steps 5 & 6), In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Dept. of Water Resources, filed July 19, 2023), available at

[l] Final Order Regarding April 2023 Forecast Supply (Methodology Steps 1-3), supra note 45, at 6.

[li] Water Use Information,

[lii] Water Supply Bank Pricing,

[liii] IGWA’s Amended Notice of Mitigation, In the Matter of Distribution of Water to Various Water Rights Held by or for the Benefit of A & B Irrigation District, et al. (Idaho Ground Water Appropriators, Inc., filed June 1, 2023), available at

Keeping “Current” with the Idaho Water Adjudications

By Lacy Rammell-O’Brien

Courtesy of Sandra Thiel, Principal Water Resource Agent at the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus is attributed with the expression, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”[i] The Idaho Water Adjudications are much like Heraclitus’ river, flowing and changing as they roll through the state. Long-time followers of the Idaho Water Adjudications know that on November 19, 1987, the Snake River Basin Adjudication commenced and opened decades of litigation.[ii]  Since that time, four more general stream adjudications have commenced. This article summarizes the changes since October 2020, when the last Water Adjudications update was published in The Advocate.[iii]

An adjudication is a court proceeding resulting in the judicial determination of water rights claimed by parties asserting validity and ownership of those rights.[iv] The Idaho Water Court, based out of the Fifth Judicial District in Twin Falls, presides over the Idaho Water Adjudications.[v] Pursuant to statute, the Idaho Department of Water Resources (“IDWR”) is not a party to the Adjudications.[vi]  IDWR’s role is as an “independent expert and technical assistant to assure that claims to water rights acquired under state law are accurately reported” and to “make recommendations as to the extent of beneficial use and administration of each water right under state law.”[vii]

Snake River Basin Adjudication (“SRBA”)

The SRBA remains one of the largest legal adjudications in U.S. history, issuing over 158,000 decrees.[viii] The SRBA covered administrative basins in 38 of Idaho’s 44 counties. [ix] On August 26, 2014, the Water Court issued the Final Unified Decree.  The Final Unified Decree is “conclusive as to the nature and extent of all water rights within the Snake River Basin within the State of Idaho with a priority date prior to November 19, 1987[…].”[x] The Court explicitly retained jurisdiction over “[a]ny domestic and stock water right, as defined in Idaho Code § 42-111 (1990), Idaho Code § 42-1401A(5) (1990), and Idaho Code § 42-1401A(12) (1990), the adjudication of which was deferred in accordance with this Court’s June 28, 2012, Order Governing Procedures in the SRBA for Adjudication of Deferred De Minimis Domestic and Stock Water Claims”.[xi] The Water Court has continued to decree “deferred” domestic and stock water claims in accordance with the Final Unified Decree.

On November 15, 2021, the United States filed a Motion to Adjudicate Deferred De Minimis Domestic and Stock Water Claims, asking the Court to set a deadline for the filing of all deferred de minimus domestic and stock water right claims in the SRBA.[xii] The United States argued that it had waived its sovereign immunity under the McCarran Amendment with the understanding that the “adjudication of rights to the use of water of a river system or other source” would be conclusive as to all water rights within the SRBA.[xiii] The McCarran Amendment allows for a limited waiver of the United States’ sovereign immunity so that it may appear as a party in state court general stream adjudications.[xiv] The United States argued that the continued taking of deferred claims was in violation of the McCarran Amendment and the Deferral Stipulation executed and filed by the State of Idaho and the United States on December 20, 1988.[xv] The Water Court held a status and scheduling conference on February 15, 2022, during which it appointed Special Master Theodore Booth as settlement moderator and stayed litigation.[xvi] Following months of negotiations, the parties agreed to a further stay of proceedings until December 31, 2023.[xvii]

Coeur d’Alene – Spokane River Basin Adjudication (“CSRBA”)

The CSRBA is Phase One of the North Idaho Adjudication (“NIA”).[xviii] On July 8, 2008, the State of Idaho filed a Petition to Commence the CSRBA.[xix] On November 12, 2008, Judge John Melanson issued the Commencement Order.[xx] The CSRBA contains five administrative basins (91-95) covering Benewah, Bonner, Clearwater, Kootenai, Latah, and Shoshone counties.[xxi]

State-based claims in the CSRBA are mostly resolved. As of July 5, 2023, there are eight unresolved state-based claims in Basin 95 Part 1 and six unresolved state-based claims in Basin 95 Part 2.

As of July 5, 2023, there are 284 unresolved federal reserved claims across basins 91-95. The United States filed claims to federal reserved water rights as trustee on behalf of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation. The United States cited “Winters v. United States, 207 U.S. 564 (1908) and its progeny, as well as the operative documents and circumstances surrounding the creation of the Coeur d’Alene Reservation” as the basis for its claims. [xxii] The Water Court bifurcated proceedings on the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s claims.[xxiii] The Water Court first evaluated “entitlement” to particular uses of water, to be followed by the “quantification” stage of the amount of water associated with those uses.[xxiv]

On September 5, 2019, the Idaho Supreme Court issued its decision on the “entitlement” phase of the proceedings, holding that the Coeur d’Alene Tribe had reserved water rights consisting of domestic uses, agricultural uses, hunting and fishing uses, plant gathering, and cultural uses.[xxv] The Idaho Supreme Court also affirmed the holding of the Water Court that the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s water rights included instream flows on the Reservation and that the Tribe voluntarily relinquished rights to off-Reservation instream flows.[xxvi]

Following the decision of the Idaho Supreme Court, the parties agreed to a stay of litigation.[xxvii] They pursued settlement negotiations with a court-appointed mediator.[xxviii] At a status conference held on April 18, 2023, the parties informed the Water Court that mediation had been unsuccessful.[xxix] On May 26, 2023, the Water Court entered an Order lifting the litigation stay, along with a scheduling order setting trial for April 2026.[xxx]

Palouse River Basin Adjudication (“PRBA”)

The PRBA is Phase Two of the NIA.[xxxi] On October 3, 2016, the State of Idaho filed a Petition to Commence the PRBA.[xxxii] On March 1, 2017, Judge Eric Wildman issued the Commencement Order.[xxxiii] The PRBA covers one administrative basin (87) in Benewah, Latah, and Nez Perce counties.[xxxiv] As of July 5, 2023, there are 182 objections to 101 contested subcases in the PRBA, with 2,212 water right claims pending decree.

The rolling hills of the Palouse have set the stage for a shared issue with several players. Among the many individuals and entities that filed claims in the PRBA are the State of Idaho, the City of Moscow, the Potlatch entities, Schweitzer, the University of Idaho, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the United States as Trustee on behalf of the Nez Perce Tribe and Allottees of the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.[xxxv]

At the heart of the United States’ and the Nez Perce Tribe’s objections to state-based claims and the federal reserved claims are two treaties. The first is the Treaty of 1855.[xxxvi] The second is the Treaty of 1863, which states in relevant part: “The United States also agree to reserve all springs or fountains not adjacent to, or directly connected with, the streams or rivers within the lands hereby relinquished, and to keep back from settlement or entry so much of the surrounding land as may be necessary to prevent the said springs or fountains from being enclosed; and further, to preserve the perpetual right of way to and from the same, as watering places, for the use in common of both whites and Indians.”[xxxvii]

The United States argues that a portion of the PRBA includes lands that were ceded by the Nez Perce Tribe as part of the Treaty of 1863. The United States objected to certain state-based claims on the grounds that they should recognize corresponding federal claims for “up to half of the natural spring flow” based on the phrase “for the use in common” in the Treaty.

The Nez Perce Tribe filed joinder in the objection of the United States, arguing that “up to half of natural spring flow” should be recognized in the claims as “expressly reserved for the use of the Tribe and its members.”[xxxviii] The federal reserved claims filed by the United States and Nez Perce Tribe closely mirror the state-based surface water claims. Like the federal reserved claims in the CSRBA, the PRBA federal/tribal claims rely on the Winters doctrine and related caselaw.

The parties are now subject to a protective order issued by the Water Court.[xxxix] They are currently in negotiations with an eye toward settlement of the United States and Nez Perce Tribe’s objections and federal reserved claims in the basin. [xl]

Clark Fork – Pend Oreille River Basins Adjudication (“CFPRBA”)

The CFPRBA is Phase Three of the NIA.[xli]  On October 23, 2020, the State of Idaho filed a Petition to commence a general adjudication of all rights arising under state or federal law to the use of surface and ground waters from the Clark Fork – Pend Oreille River basins water system and for the administration of such rights.[xlii] On June 15, 2021, Judge Wildman entered the Commencement Order for the CFPRBA pursuant to Idaho Code § 42-1406B.[xliii]

The CFPRBA covers two administrative basins (96 and 97) in Bonner, Boundary, and Kootenai counties.[xliv] It does not include administrative basin 98.[xlv] Claims filing ended in the CFPRBA on June 23, 2023, although second-round service and motions to file late claims may yield more filings. As of June 8, 2023, there have been 7,543 state-based claims and 24 federal reserved claims filed in the CFPRBA.

IDWR anticipates up to 9,000 claims to be filed in the CFPRBA and hopes to have Part 1 of the Basin 97 Director’s Report completed and filed with the Idaho Water Court in 2024.

Bear River Basin Adjudication (“BRBA”)[xlvi]

On November 20, 2020, the State of Idaho filed a Petition seeking commencement of a general adjudication of all rights arising under state or federal law to the use of surface and ground waters from the Bear River basin water system and for the administration of such rights.[xlvii] On June 15, 2021, Judge Wildman entered the Commencement Order for the BRBA pursuant to Idaho Code § 42-1406C.[xlviii]

The BRBA covers four administrative basins (11, 13, 15, and 17) in Bannock, Caribou, Cassia, Franklin, Oneida, and Power counties.[xlix] As of June 8, 2023, 816 state-based claims have been filed in the BRBA. IDWR anticipates that approximately 13,000 claims will be filed in the BRBA.

As of July 5, 2023, property owners in Basin 11 have received Commencement Notices alerting them to the need to file their water right claims with IDWR. In addition to the new field office in Preston, Idaho, staff from IDWR’s adjudication section have held a week-long public claim-taking workshop in Montpelier, Idaho to help people in Basin 11 file their claims. IDWR is proceeding with the goal of filing the Basins 11 and 13 Director’s Report with the Idaho Water Court in 2026.


Heraclitus is remembered for his philosophy of constant change. The Idaho Water Adjudications, water users, and law practitioners are not the same as they were in 1987. The evolution of the Adjudications, like the waters of Idaho and those who use them, will guide this winding river toward resolution.  The Idaho Water Adjudications flow onward, collecting claims and issuing decrees that clarify and record how water is being used statewide.

Lacey Rammell-O’Brien is a deputy attorney general representing the Idaho Department of Water Resources. She is a fifth-generation Idahoan and third-generation admirer of Gary Larson’s The Far Side. The views expressed in this article do not reflect those of the Office of the Attorney General of IDWR.

[i] Daniel W. Graham, “Heraclitus”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),

[ii] Commencement Order, In re SRBA Case No. 39576 (Nov. 19, 1987).

[iii] Meghan M. Carter & Jennifer R. Wendel, Water Rights Adjudications in Idaho Have Statewide Impacts, 63 ADVOCATE 16 (2020).

[iv] A “general adjudication” is defined in Idaho Code section 42-1401A(5) as “an action both for the judicial determination of the extent and priority of the rights of all persons to use water from any water system within the state of Idaho that is conclusive as to the nature of all rights to the use of water in the adjudicated water system, except as provided in section 42-1420, Idaho Code, and for the administration of those rights.”


[vi] Idaho Code § 42-1401B. 

[vii] Id.

[viii] Ann Y. Vonde et al., Understanding the Snake River Basin Adjudication, 52 IDAHO L. REV. 53 (2016).

[ix] IDWR has divided Idaho into over 50 administrative basins to coordinate water management activities.

[x] Final Unified Decree, In re SRBA Case No. 39576 (Aug. 25, 2014).

[xi] The Court also retained jurisdiction to “resolve any issues related to the Final Unified Decree that are not reviewable under the Idaho Administrative Procedures Act and/or the rules of the Idaho Department of Water Resources”.  Final Unified Decree at 13. 

[xii] Subcase No. 00-92095, Motion to Adjudicate Deferred De Minimis Domestic and Stock Water Claims (Nov. 15, 2021).

[xiii] Subcase No. 00-92095, Motion to Adjudicate Deferred De Minimis Domestic and Stock Water Claims (Nov. 15, 2021).

[xiv] 43 U.S.C. § 666 (1952). 

[xv] Id.

[xvi] Subcase No. 00-92095, Order Appointing Special Master Theodore Booth as Settlement Moderator; Order Staying Litigation (Feb. 15, 2022).

[xvii] Subcase No. 00-92095, Stay Order; Order Setting Status Conference (Nov. 8, 2022).

[xviii] Idaho Code § 42-1406B.

[xix] Petition, In re CSRBA Case No. 49576 (Jul. 8, 2008).

[xx] Commencement Order for the Coeur d’Alene-Spokane River Basin General Adjudication, In re CSRBA Case No. 49576 (Nov. 12, 2008).

[xxi] Id.

[xxii] Subcase No. 91-7755 et al., Notice of Claim Federal Reserved Water Right, (Jan 31, 2014). 

[xxiii] Subcase No. 91-7755 et al., Order Consolidating Subcases; Order Bifurcating Proceedings, Scheduling Order (Feb. 17, 2015).

[xxiv] Subcase No. 91-7755 et al., Order on Motions for Summary Judgment (May 3, 2017); Amended Final Order Disallowing Water Right Claims (Jul. 26, 2017). 

[xxv] In re CSRBA Case No. 49576 Subcase 91-7755 et al., 165 Idaho 517, 448 P.3d 322 (2019), reh’g denied (Nov. 4, 2019).

[xxvi] Id.

[xxvii] Subcase No. 91-7755 et al., Order Granting Unopposed Motion to Amend Scheduling Order, Order Staying Proceeding, Order Setting Status Conference (May 21, 2020).

[xxviii] Subcase No. 91-7755 et al., Order Granting Unopposed Motion for Appointment of Mediator, Order Extending Stay (June 15, 2021). 

[xxix] Subcase No. 91-7755 et al., Order Lifting Stay (May 26, 2023).

[xxx] Subcase No. 91-7755 et al., Scheduling Order on Quantification (May 26, 2023).

[xxxi] Idaho Code § 42-1406B.

[xxxii] Petition, In re PRBA Case No. 59576 (Oct. 3, 2016).

[xxxiii] Commencement Order for the Palouse River Basin Adjudication, In re PRBA Case No. 59576 (Mar. 1, 2017).

[xxxiv] Id.

[xxxv] Subcase 87-4060 et al.

[xxxvi] TREATY WITH THE NEZ PERCES, 1855., 12 Stat. 957 (June 11, 1855).

[xxxvii] TREATY WITH THE NEZ PERCES, 1863., 14 Stat. 647 (June 9, 1863).

[xxxviii] Subcase 87-4060 et al., Nez Perce Tribe’s Joinder in United States’ Objection to Claim (Jan. 10, 2022).

[xxxix] Order Granting Joint Motion for Protective Order, In re PRBA Case No. 59576 (Mar. 9, 2023).

[xl] Joint Status Update and Motion for Court Notice of Future Settlement Meetings, In re PRBA Case No. 59576 (June 8, 2023).

[xli] Idaho Code § 42-1406B.

[xlii] Petition to Commence Clark Fork-Pend Oreille River Basins Adjudication, In re CFPRBA Case No. 69576 (Oct. 23, 2020).

[xliii] Commencement Order for the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille River Basins Adjudication, In re CFPRBA Case No. 69576 (June 15, 2021).

[xliv] Id.

[xlv] Administrative Basin 98 is explicitly excluded from the NIA by Idaho Code § 42-1406B(1).

[xlvi] Idaho Code § 42-1406C.

[xlvii] Petition to Commence Bear River Basin Adjudication, In re BRBA Case No. 79576 (Nov. 20, 2020).

[xlviii] Commencement Order for the Bear River Basin Adjudication, In re Case No. 79576 (June 15, 2021).

[xlix] Id.

Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program Report

By Jennifer M. Schindele

The Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program (“IVLP”) is a program of the Idaho Law Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to increase access to legal services and enhance public understanding of the law. IVLP provides a safety net for low-income and at-risk Idahoans facing a civil legal issue who cannot afford legal representation by connecting them with a volunteer attorney with the desire to assist. IVLP screens applicants, recruits volunteers, and coordinates clinics and case assignments.

Currently, the IVLP team is comprised of Jennifer Schindele, Director, Jenni Jordan, Project and Information Services Manager, Becky Freeman, Case Coordinator, Yzabella Eggers and Beamee Kimball, Intake Coordinators, and Stesha Powers, Administrative Assistant.

Applications, Screening, and Referrals

In 2022, IVLP received 3,371 applications from individuals seeking legal assistance.  This year, IVLP is on track to receive approximately 4,000 applications as each quarter so far approximately 1,000 applications have been submitted. Once received, the applicant is screened to determine if he or she needs legal aid or if he or she could benefit from other forms of help such as rental assistance or law enforcement. If the applicant does need legal assistance, the IVLP intake coordinator screens the applicant to determine if he or she is financially eligible for the program. If financially eligible, IVLP will attempt to facilitate a connection between the applicant and a volunteer attorney.

Providing Access to Legal Services

Last year, over 400 Idahoans received advice and counsel from volunteer attorneys over the phone.  Additionally, over 300 Idahoans received advice and counsel through in-person legal clinics. Most, but not all of the in-person legal clinics were held in libraries. Providing legal assistance through library clinics makes assistance more accessible to vulnerable populations. IVLP also placed cases for full representation with volunteer attorneys. While not all eligible applicants are able to receive legal assistance, overall IVLP was able to assist 846 low-income Idahoans in 2022. Over 51 percent of these cases were family law related with 15 percent being wills and probate cases and 11 percent being bankruptcy or debt defense.

Pro Bono Opportunities

IVLP provides numerous opportunities for attorneys to perform pro bono work including, but not limited to, telephone advice and counsel clinics, in person clinics held primarily in libraries, one-time events, and cases for full representation. Clinic opportunities are posted on the Idaho Law Foundation website and can be found here:!/idaho-volunteer-lawyers-program/opportunities/.  All full representation cases needing attorney volunteers are listed on the Pro Bono Opportunities website here: If attorneys are interested in accessing the Pro Bono Opportunities list, they can contact Jennifer Schindele or Jenni Jordan.

Pro Bono Week

Every October, the American Bar Association (“ABA”) holds a week-long celebration for pro bono. Pro Bono Week is an opportunity to show appreciation for the remarkable pro bono work being done by volunteer lawyers and legal professionals. The upcoming Pro Bono Week is October 23-27. According to the ABA, pro bono work is a professional responsibility and an individual ethical commitment of each lawyer. Numerous organizations are celebrating pro bono week through outdoor events, video contests, and social media campaigns.

Idaho attorneys also recognize the importance of pro bono work in our state. Idaho Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 dictates that every Idaho attorney should aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono service each year. Many Idaho attorneys are committed to pro bono by volunteering their time and expertise for those in need. This year for Pro Bono Week in Idaho, IVLP will kick off with a free continuing legal education presentation and a reception for those committed to pro bono work. The week will be filled with various clinic opportunities, by telephone and in-person, with the goal of providing legal assistance to numerous low-income Idahoans.

Jennifer M. Schindele is the Director of the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program. After spending over 16 years practicing family law, Jennifer joined IVLP. Jennifer earned an English degree at the University of Idaho and completed law school at the University of Idaho College of Law. Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, playing soccer, and exploring Idaho’s outdoors.

President’s Message: Lucky to Be an Idaho Lawyer

By Gary L. Cooper

Idaho State Bar President Gary Cooper (standing) presenting a Milestone award to Linda Cook for her 50 years of admission to the Bar. Photo credit: Lindsey Welfley.

At the conclusion of the 2023 Idaho State Bar Annual Meeting, I was passed the gavel to start serving as president for the next year.  To be honest, I am apprehensive to take on this responsibility.  The Idaho State Bar consists of 7,118 licensed attorneys, about 5,000 of which are active.  I have often commented that Idaho is a small bar and we all know each other.  Whether that was ever true, I don’t know.  I do know that there must be about 7,000 Idaho lawyers I have never met.  As a consequence, I worry about why I should suddenly be the president of an organization of lawyers, the vast majority of whom I have never met.  The fact is that the Idaho State Bar functions, not because of who is serving as president, but because it has a capable and dedicated administrative staff.   Diane Minnich has worked for the Idaho State Bar for 38 years -33 as Executive Director of the Bar and of its charitable arm, the Idaho Law Foundation.  She has the institutional knowledge necessary to ensure that we Commissioners do not make the same mistakes that were made in the past.  A year and a half ago, Joe Pirtle replaced Brad Andrews as Bar Counsel.  Those were big shoes to fill, but Joe has proven that is more than capable of handling the responsibilities of being general counsel to the Bar.  Thankfully, the Bar is in capable hands, regardless of who serves as president.

The Annual Meeting made me proud to be an Idaho lawyer.  On the first evening, we gathered to recognize the Distinguished Lawyers, the Distinguished Jurist, and the Outstanding Young Lawyer for 2023.  As I entered the JUMP facility to go to the reception, I observed five young men and women who I later learned were students at the University of Idaho College of Law.  At about the same time the five members of the Idaho Supreme Court walked in.  Without missing a beat, the Justices started up a conversation with the students which continued as they went up the elevator to the meeting room.  It made me realize how lucky we are to have justices who are so genuinely approachable.  Don’t get me wrong, they are still pretty intimidating when one stands up to argue before them, but in my opinion, they haven’t forgotten where they come from.

If you never attend the Annual Meeting, please make time in your schedule to at least attend the reception for the Distinguished Lawyers, Jurist, and Outstanding Young Lawyer, as well as the reception to celebrate those who have been admitted for 50, 60, and 65 years.  I promise you will come away feeling good that you decided to become a lawyer and feeling lucky that you decided to practice in Idaho.  We had the pleasure of honoring Justice Roger Burdick, Larry Hunter, Marvin Smith, and Ashley Marelius this year.  All, except Ashley, have devoted 45+ years to the law in Idaho.  Their acceptance speeches were authentic and thoughtful.  It was easy to see why they are considered “distinguished.”  Ashley hasn’t been around as long, but her video interview showed that she is a superstar.  She mentioned Alyson Foster and Kristin Bjorkman as role models, which is proof enough that she has excellent judgment and will go far if she walks in their footsteps.

The reception for lawyers who have been admitted for 50, 60, and 65 years is a “must-attend” event every year.  Bill Parsons and Dick Smith are legends in Cassia County.  Both graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law.  Only Bill was able to attend the reception this year.  He shared that his and Dick’s graduating class consisted of 13 members.  He and Dick have practiced together for 65 years.

Another legend of Idaho law is the Honorable Jesse Walters, who was admitted 60 years ago.  He practiced privately for 13 years, served as a District Judge in Ada County for five years, served as one of the original three judges on the Idaho Court of Appeals for 15 years, and then served as a Justice on the Idaho Supreme Court where he retired in 2003.  Tony Park, another University of Idaho grad, was also admitted 60 years ago and is equally legendary.  He served as Idaho’s Attorney General from 1971 to 1975.  While he was Attorney General, Tony created the Consumer Protection Agency which continues its work today.  Tony Park’s legacy is not just based on being elected Attorney General.  He employed and trained many lawyers who have distinguished themselves in the practice of law.  When we heard from those who were admitted 50 years ago, three of them worked for Tony as Deputy Attorneys General.  The likes of Bill Gigray, a respected municipal lawyer, Hon. Ron Bruce, a respected jurist, and Jim Kaufman, a respected estate planner, launched their storied legal careers under the tutelage of Tony Park.  Tony’s legacy includes the example he set for many young lawyers who were just starting their careers.

It was a pleasure to hear from those who were admitted 50 years ago.  Those who attended the University of Idaho College of Law were 3Ls when I started law school in Moscow.  Darrel Aherin, a fixture and fierce advocate from Nez Perce County, appeared in a large cowboy hat, but not his largest which is reserved for Idaho Trial Lawyers Association functions.   The Honorable Ron Bruce trained Reed Larsen as a law clerk.  I am proud to say that Reed is my law partner and a great lawyer.  A special treat was the appearance by the 42nd and 43rd women admitted to the Idaho State Bar, both of whom graduated from the U of I College of Law.  Lucinda Weiss was the 43rd and a year after graduating, at the age of 24, she was elected prosecuting attorney for Bonner County.  She then worked in the legal department of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. for more than 25 years.  The Honorable Linda Cook was the 42nd and served as a magistrate judge in Bonneville County from 1976 until she transitioned to senior status on December 31, 2010.  Jerry Reynolds was also present from the Seventh Judicial District, where he served as a magistrate judge.  Another judge, the Honorable William Woodland, served as a magistrate judge and district judge in Bannock County for more than 20 years.

Don Farley and Paul Street both started their private practice legal careers at Moffatt Thomas in Boise.  Paul transitioned into the corporate world where he was general counsel for BMCH, a large, publicly traded building products and services company.  Don soon became one of the most renowned trial lawyers in Idaho and is still a formidable opponent in the courtroom.

Finally, although they received no award for their years of service to our profession, Mary York, Justice Colleen Zahn, Justice Jim Jones, Dean Emeritus Don Burnett, Jr., and Judge Karen Lansing provided their thoughts about what we need to do to preserve independence, impartiality, and excellence in Idaho’s judiciary.  The experience they brought to the discussion of this timely topic can’t be matched.

I am in awe from listening to and mingling with the distinguished members of our profession and those who have lived and learned how to practice a very demanding profession for 50, 60, or even 65 years.  The Idaho State Bar will be in Boise again next year for the Annual Meeting.  If you attend nothing else, make time to come to the receptions for those who have distinguished themselves during their careers and see and hear from some legends.  It will make you realize how lucky we are to be Idaho lawyers.  We all need to be reminded of that from time to time.  See you in Boise in July 2024.

Gary L. Cooper was raised in Idaho. He received an undergraduate degree and a law degree from the University of Idaho. He has practiced in Pocatello since 1975. For the last 25 years, he has practiced with his good friends, Reed Larsen and Ron Kerl. He and his wife, Jane, have three children and five grandchildren.

2023 Retiring Judges

The following individuals have retired or will be retiring from judicial service in 2023. We honor them for their committed service on the bench!

Hon. Barbara Buchanan retired as a Magistrate Judge from Bonner County in January (1/31/23). She graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1983.

Hon. Roger Cockerille retired as a Magistrate Judge from Boise County in January (1/31/23). He graduated from the University of Wyoming College of Law and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1997.

Hon. Christopher Bieter will retire as a Magistrate Judge from Ada County in July (7/31/23). He graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1983.

Hon. Michael Reardon will retire as a District Judge from Ada County in September (9/30/23). He graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1985.

Hon. Thomas Clark will retire as a Magistrate Judge from Bannock County in August (8/31/23). He graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1983. 

Hon. Ralph Savage retired as a Magistrate Judge from Butte County in March (3/31/23). He graduated from Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1988.

Hon. John Stegner will retire as an Idaho Supreme Court Justice in October (10/31/23). He graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1982.

Hon. Andrea Courtney will retire as a District Judge from the Third District Court in July (7/16/23). She graduated from Vermont Law School and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 2007.

2023 Section of the Year

Employment & Labor Law Section

The Employment & Labor Law Section has sought to help its members and all members of the Idaho State Bar during the past two to three years by sponsoring and co-sponsoring CLEs that have been offered to help understand the changes in employment law during the pandemic.  Additionally, they have sponsored CLEs to inspire diversity in the bar and to help members understand the law around diversity issues and employment. This included sponsoring a CLE where they brought in the plaintiff/appellant’s counsel in the Bostock case before the United State Supreme Court.  Lastly, they have updated their employment law handbooks to allow practitioners easy access to the most recent changes in employment law and termination law.

50 Year Milestone Attorneys: Admitted in 1973

These acknowledgments honor members of the Idaho State Bar who have been admitted for 65 years. Thank you to all who submitted material to be included in this portion of our awards.

Darrel W. Aherin
Darrel W. Aherin

Darrel W. Aherin is the senior partner in the Lewiston law firm of Aherin, Rice & Anegon, having established his private practice in 1974. He received his J.D. in May 1973 from the University of Idaho College of Law and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in November 1973. He built his own office building near the Nez Perce County Courthouse, where his practice remains since the spring of 1976. Darrel was admitted to the Nez Perce Tribal Court in 2000, and to the Washington State Bar and Oregon State Bar in 2007. Darrel focused his practice of law in the areas of personal injury, product liability, and insurance claims. He now has added probate and estate planning. He served a term as a bar representative to the Idaho Judicial Council from 1997 to 2003, served as President of the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association (“ITLA”) from 1994 to 1995, was awarded Trial Lawyer of the Year by ITLA in 2005, and the Distinguished Lawyer Award by the Idaho State Bar in 2017. Darrel was also one of the governors from Idaho on the Board of Governors to the American Association for Justice from 1996 to 2021. Darrel is married to Michelle and has three sons (one deceased) and two grandsons.

James T. (“Tom”) Baird

James T. (“Tom”) Baird is a native Idahoan who is a graduate of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. He lives in Twin Falls.  He has served as a Deputy Attorney General under eight different attorneys general in the Health and Human Services Department.  Tom has two daughters and two grandchildren.

Carl F. Bianchi

Carl graduated from Hamilton College and Duke University School of Law. He and his wife, Gloria, moved to Boise in 1973 when he was hired by the Idaho Supreme Court as the first Administrative Director of the Courts, to continue the court reform movement begun in the 1960s. He helped the Supreme Court’s effort to reduce then-endemic delays in the courts, an effort later recognized by the American Judicature Society. In honor of Idaho’s Centennial Celebration in 1990, he edited the first written history of the Idaho courts, “Justice for the Times,” published by the Idaho Law Foundation, and featuring chapters written by leading Idaho judges and lawyers.

After retiring from the courts in 1993, Carl became the first Director of Legislative Services for the Idaho Legislature, where he consolidated and supervised nonpartisan staff services, retiring in 2006.  He also helped pass legislation to restore Idaho’s Capitol building and served on the Idaho Capitol Commission for 10 years, aiding the restoration and underground expansion of the Capitol.

Carl and Gloria have been married for 54 years and enjoy family time with their two daughters. He remains supportive of the Idaho court system and how it has adapted in recent years to the changes and growth in our state, and he is proud of the Idaho State Bar, and the individual judges and lawyers that have given our state a national reputation for excellence.

William L. Bird

William Bird is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. William and his wife, Janice, live in Logan, Utah.

Schuyler L. Bradley

Shuyler Bradley is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School. Schuyler lives in West Richland, Washington.

Robert L. Brower

Robert L. Brower is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Robert and his wife, Shirley, live in Coeur d’Alene.

Ronald D. Bruce
Ronald D. Bruce

Ronald Bruce spent four years in the United States Marine Corps, and a brief stint at the U.S. Committee for UNICEF as a secretary (typist level). U.S. District Judge Constance Baker Motley, arranged for his appointment as a Deputy Clerk at the prestigious Southern District of New York courthouse at Foley Square in New York City.  It was hard to leave for college those marble halls, the dignity of the judges and lawyers, and the magisterial atmosphere.

His years at Idaho State University (“ISU”) as a philosophy major included speech and debate achievements, editor of the ISU Bengal, and social chairman who booked Tina and Ike Turner, the Count Basie Orchestra, and speakers like Timothy Leary, Amiri Baraka, and Robert Welch, Jr.

After graduating from ISU with a B.A. in philosophy, Ron landed a reporter internship at the Salt Lake City Tribune.  There he loved covering court proceedings and was blessed to report a comment by U. S. District Judge Willis W. Ritter, who observed during a pandering sentencing that “prostitution in Salt Lake City is a stinking mess and would be so easy to clean up.”  The story made headlines nationally, with Salt Lake City commissioners rightfully grumbling about the judge not specifying such an easy cleansing strategy.  Ron often had regrets about leaving the Tribune for law school.

Ron’s paternal grandmother, Clara W. Burrill, was editor of her law review at Boston University College of Law inspired him to better scholarship at the University of Idaho College of Law.  He made the moot court team and was lucky to be in the Class of 1973, which was the last class to enjoy an all-essay bar exam.

Attorney General W. Anthony Park hired Ron as deputy upon his graduation.  He was primarily in the criminal division, doing trial prosecutions, appellate defense, and principal counsel to the Idaho Department of Corrections. Ron was appointed and elected Magistrate for the Fifth District Court in Rupert, and then upon the retirement of Idaho District Judge Sherman Bellwood, succeeded to his position.  It was a high honor and privilege to serve in those positions, and enjoy the professional association with Judge Bellwood, District Judge George Granata, and Magistrate Judge Roy Holloway.

In addition to Attorney General Park, Ron also worked for Attorneys General Larry Echohawk and Jim Jones.  Those three lawyers were extraordinary in their competence and devotion to ethical public service.

These days Ron travels quite often, and in May completed a 111-day world cruise.  When resting up between travels he enjoys doing pro bono cases and arbitrations.

Linda J. Cook
Linda Cook riding a camel near the pyramids in Egypt. Photo courtesy of Linda Cook.

An Idaho native, Linda Cook grew up in Ririe, Bonneville County. She obtained a master’s degree and, being adventurous, taught college level classes at the maximum-security men’s Prison in Walla Walla, Washington. She was the first woman who “worked inside the walls” of that facility, in its existence of nearly 100 years. Linda was on the faculty of a local college, so most classes were with typical college students. After two years there, she went to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and taught English as a Second Language for a year; at that time, there were not many English as a Second Language (“ESL”) programs. Her position was in conjunction with the U.S. Consulate in that city; some of her responsibilities were at the Consulate and some at a private school.  Both jobs provided some communication skills and information that were useful later as a lawyer and magistrate judge.

Linda attended the University of Idaho College of Law at a time when there were few women students and some of the men expected the women to be secretaries, not lawyers. She enjoyed the academic experience as well as friendships with the faculty and other students. After graduation and being adventurous again, she lived in San Francisco and considered a career there, but after a few months realized her heart was left in Idaho and came back home. She then became a deputy prosecutor for Bonneville County and was appointed to be a Magistrate Judge in 1976.

Being a Magistrate was interesting and professionally rewarding. Linda was able to meet many attorneys and judges. She was involved with various professional committees and organizations including the Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Commission, the Governor’s Task Force for Children at Risk, the Court’s Fairness and Equality Committee, the Court’s Legislative Committee, as well as domestic violence and child abuse programs locally. She had many interesting cases and opportunities to hold court outside her judicial district.

Travel has always been interesting – having been everywhere from Antarctica to see penguins (tourists are rarely allowed on the ice) and up to northern Alaska to see puffins. She stood on the spot where the Austrian prince was assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia which resulted in World War I, and where Hitler’s generals tried to blow him up in Poland. She’s been to the Amazon River and the Andes Mountains. She’s ridden camels in three countries and hopes to ride an elephant someday.

Linda is involved with the local Museum of Idaho and recently received an award for 20 years of service. As a retired judge, she continues to perform weddings and occasionally performs a wedding for someone whose parents or grandparents were also married by her. She finds it fun to reconnect with people from the past and looks forward to many more years. Linda also has a large and loving family which includes nieces who are also lawyers.

Dale Cox

Dale Cox is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. Dale lives in Orofino.

Steve R. Cox

Steve R. Cox is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Steve and his wife, Terry, live in Lewiston.

Jack L. Curtin

Jack Lynn Curtin wants to extend a thank you to the State of Idaho and the majority of those residing therein, including the Idaho State Bar, which has grown significantly from the time he was admitted.

Jack remembers that there were few doors open to returning combat veterans in 1970. Dean Maynard at the University of Idaho graciously opened one and Jack jumped at the chance – he never looked back, although he almost missed it. It was the fall of 1970 and he had recently been released from active duty in the Navy. He was fishing on a coastal river in Oregon toward noon and wandered in the local bait shop. As he walked in a clerk asked his name and said he had a personal phone message from the University of Idaho waiting. Jack returned the call to find out that classes had started and wanted to confirm his attendance. He never quite figured out how they tracked him down but off he went!

To Jack there are many things that make the past 50 years so special. The following story is pretty much on point. We will let you read it from his own words:

“I don’t know the date, but it happened around the time we were still traveling to other jurisdictions for CLE credits. On one such occasion, I journeyed to another jurisdiction to glean the special knowledge that only faraway places seemed to offer.  It was at a time when most states had adopted the plastic credit card look for their bar card, with all the shine and substance that can be jammed into a computerized wonder.

It was the first day of the seminar and the lady at the registration desk noted I was from out of town and asked to see my bar card. It was, of course, the paper punchout card that has distinguished Idaho attorneys for decades. The lady examined the card carefully, back and front, she even held it up to the light before handing it back to me. “Interesting,” she said, “did you make it yourself?”

Jack says it’s true when they say Idaho is a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family. His wife, Becky, of 47 years and counting, have done it all. Of the “few good decisions in my life” dropping anchor in Idaho 53 years ago was one of them for Jack. He wishes Godspeed and good fortune to those who follow; and don’t mess it up.

Jim and guide on a fishing tour. Photo courtesy of Jim English.
James M. (“Jim”) English

James (“Jim”) English began his law career in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in the late fall of 1973 as a sole practitioner specializing in litigation and real estate law after graduating from the University of Idaho College of Law.

In 1979, Jim joined Idaho Forest Industries, Inc. (“IFI”), a lumber manufacturer and real estate developer, as corporate counsel. He held various management positions with IFI including Chief Operating Officer and President until retirement in 2001. His focus after IFI was real estate development in Boise, Eagle, Caldwell, and Coeur d’Alene, during which he maintained a limited real estate law practice until transferring to senior status in 2021.

Jim and his wife, Gail, have been married for 57 years; they have two daughters, Rebecca Zanetti and Debra Smith, and four grandchildren.

Donald J. Farley
Don and his wife of 54 years, Geridee, on the Royal Scotsman train during their 50th wedding anniversary. Photo courtesy of Don Farley.

Donald (“Don”) Farley says that 50 years doesn’t seem that long ago. It has gone all too quickly when he stops to think about it. He tries not to think about it! It has been fun, which is why it has gone by too fast.

Don started as a law clerk for the Honorable J. Blaine Anderson, U.S. District Court Judge in Boise one day after his graduation from the University of Idaho College of Law. From working with and observing Judge Anderson and many skilled trial lawyers during the two-year clerkship he learned how to be a lawyer, including the skills of hard work, preparation, professionalism, and ethics. He has tried to emulate those attributes ever since.

He has been primarily a trial lawyer and so-called insurance defense lawyer, first with a larger law firm in Boise, then he left in 1988 and started another successful law firm with close friends and great lawyers. Unfortunately, that firm closed in 2012, which Don would like to think had nothing to do with him. Don is currently a trial lawyer with Powers Farley PC (formerly Powers Tolman Farley) with close friends, but he says it’s probably time to retire. His areas of practice have varied but he would like to point out that he is undefeated as a criminal defense lawyer. One and done! Having successfully defending a Not Guilty verdict for his cousin’s husband against 93 felony counts of cattle theft, running brands, altering brands, and anything else the Owyhee County Sheriff and prosecutor could throw in.

Don has tried cases or at least appeared in every district court in Idaho. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has worked with lawyers from all over the country. He has won more than he has lost but the losses still sting.

Don and his beautiful, loving wife, Geridee, have been married for 54 years. In his own words: “I wouldn’t have gotten this far without her.  She deserves this Milestone recognition more than I do.” Don has two sons: Brandon, who was born the year before Don started law school, and Ryan, who came along during his federal court clerkship. Don and Geridee are incredibly proud of their children’s accomplishments, successes, and families. They have two grandsons and two granddaughters; the oldest grandson is in college, the next oldest grandson will be graduated from high school by the time this is read and headed to college, and the two talented and beautiful granddaughters will be graduating and on to college or wherever their interests take them over the next two years.

Don signs off this Milestone recognition with a note from Bob Seger, “There I go, turn the page.” (1973)

James R. (“Jim”) Fields
Photo courtesy of Jim Fields.

The law opened many doors for Jim Fields. He started law school at the University of Idaho College of Law as a senior. He was selected as one of the 12 Outstanding Seniors. But an unexpected, interpersonal relationship situation caused him to drop out; in the interim he participated in the Peace Corps and served in the Army as an officer in Vietnam. Jim finally returned to the University of Idaho College of Law and graduated with the Class of 1973. After this five-year hiatus, the former mystique of law school was gone.

Jim spent three years in Washington, D.C. as Staff Counsel to U.S. Senator Jim McClure, focusing on legislative writing, veteran’s affairs, and social security. Returning to Idaho he became General Counsel and later Vice President for the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (“IACI”) in Boise, lobbying for 11 years for employers and private enterprise. In 1978, he helped develop IACI’s Idaho Business Week, which taught high school students America’s private enterprise system. One of his focuses was Idaho’s Workers Compensation System.

Jim also worked for Penland and Munther, focusing on employers’ issues, for three years followed by working for himself. This time was focused on non-profit, legislative, and private enterprise issues. Moving to Olympia, he managed the Washington Self-Insurers Association. Finally, after returning to Boise, he worked for Quane, Smith, Howard, and Hull, focusing on workers compensation defense for five years.

In 1998, Jim and his wife returned home to Filer. Rather than practice law he again turned to non-profit work for the South-Central Community Action Agency. Later he took charge of the College of Southern Idaho’s Office of Aging for 10 years.

During his career, he has been active in his communities in the Kiwainis service club, local boards and committees, and statewide associations.

Jim loves to fish, camp, hunt, and travel. He has visited all but five of the 50 states so far. He has always been fascinated by differences in cultures and how we are different, yet the same. Jim and his lovely wife, Barbara, have one daughter, Karrie. He hopes to fulfill one of his earliest bucket list items of traveling the world.

Greg J. Fuller

Greg Fuller graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1966, with a bachelor’s degree in zoology, followed by three years of graduate studies in biology at California State Long Beach in the master’s degree program. Then came a career change from education to law and Greg headed for law school at Hastings College of the Law. Immediately upon graduating from Hastings, Greg and his wife, Shawna, headed for Idaho to begin a six-year tutelage in private practice with James J. May. After this time of invaluable mentoring, Greg met and formed a partnership with another great influence in his life, future Idaho Attorney General and Supreme Court Chief Justice, Jim Jones. After a few years with Jim, who had many important future roles to fill in Idaho jurisprudence, Greg continued his private practice in Twin Falls and Jerome, specializing in criminal law, family law, and general practice. Over the last 50 years, Greg has partnered with many young lawyers who have all contributed to the success of Fuller Law, including Daniel Brown who has practiced with Greg for the past 16 years.

Greg and his wife, Shawna, of 55 years, have six children, Matthew, Michael, Amy, Mark, Joanna, and Nicole, and 10 grandchildren. Over the last 40 years, the entire family has snowmobiled, snow and water skied, motorcycled, and hiked all throughout the Sawtooth Valley from their cabin in Smiley Creek. Greg was the producer of the Northside Playhouse, producing musical theatre productions for 15 years in Twin Falls and Jerome. Finally, for 46 years, Greg has answered the call as Chairman of the Board to form and support the Port of Hope, the oldest drug and alcohol treatment center in the State of Idaho, operating at one time or another out of Twin Falls, Boise, Nampa, and Coeur d’Alene.

Greg continues to practice in Twin Falls, Idaho, and is always the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night.

William F. Gigray III
Bill Gigray and his family. Photo courtesy of Bill Gigray.

William Gigray proudly obtained his Juris Doctorate from the esteemed University of Idaho College of Law in 1972. Little did he know that this milestone would mark the beginning of an illustrious legal career spanning five decades. He is filled with gratitude for the opportunities, experiences, and achievements that have shaped him both personally and professionally.

In June 1973, William embarked on his legal career as a part of the respected law firm of Gigray, Downen & Morgan in Caldwell, Idaho. As the youngest attorney in the office, he was entrusted with diverse responsibilities, including representing indigent criminal defendants as court-appointed counsel. It was during this time that he gained invaluable experience in criminal defense practice, handling notable cases such as a murder appointment that ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court. These formative years laid the foundation for his future endeavors.

In 1977, the firm merged with the Caldwell-based Miller & Weston law firm, marking a significant milestone in William’s career. For over a decade, William continued to thrive as a member of the firm, until July 1990 when he joined and became a shareholder of the present-day White, Peterson, Gigray & Nichols P.A. This transition allowed him to further refine his legal skills and focus on diverse areas, including criminal law, business law, probate, estate planning, divorce, product liability, medical malpractice, personal injury, workers’ compensation, bankruptcy, real estate, and municipal law.

William actively engages in professional associations and organizations, making significant contributions to the legal community. He served as the President of the Third District Bar Association from 1978 to 1979 and again from 1998 to 2003; he sat on the Board of Directors for the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association, later assuming the presidency from 2001 to 2002. Recognized for his professionalism and dedication, William was honored with the Idaho State Bar Professionalism Award in 2006 and the Idaho State Bar Distinguished Lawyer Award in 2019. Additionally, his commitment to the development of civil rules led to involvement with the Idaho Supreme Court Civil Rules Committee and the Idaho Supreme Court Civil Rules Ad Hoc Committee.

Beyond his legal practice, William has always been driven to give back to his community. Taking on leadership roles in various civic organizations, he served as the President of both the Jaycees and the Caldwell Optimist Club. Presently, William proudly serves as the President of the Greenbelt Civic League of Caldwell, Inc., the Caldwell Foundation for Educational Opportunity, Inc. (“CFEO”), and the Foundation for Ada/Canyon Trails Systems, Inc. (“FACTS”). Furthermore, William’s commitment to faith has led him to serve at all administrative levels of the Presbyterian Church, including membership on the local church session, the Boise Presbytery, Synod of the Pacific, and General Assembly.

William considers himself blessed with a loving family and a fulfilling personal life. Alongside his wife, Barbara, they raised three successful children who have each found their own paths to contribute to society. Will Gigray IV serves as a Captain with the Caldwell Fire Department, Anne Kinley Middleton excels as a middle school teacher, and Mary Gigray is an attorney with the Canyon County Public Defender’s office. William has also been blessed with five grandchildren.

David D. Goss

David D. Goss is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. David and his wife, Anne, live in Boise.

Blair J. Grover

Blair J. Grover is a graduate of the George Washington University Law School. Blair and his wife, Joann, live in Rigby.

Robert G. Hamlin

Robert G. Hamlin is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Robert and his wife, Carol, live in Boise.

Jesse B. Hawley III
Jess and his daughter, Margot, in the Seven Devils region. Photo courtesy of Jess Hawley.

In 1989, after 16 years as a sole practitioner on Main Street in Boise, Jesse (“Jess”) Hawley accepted an offer of employment as an executive for Morrison Knudsen Co., then a Fortune 500 company. This choice marked his exit from the legal profession.

Jess began his career in healthcare in 1993 when he was appointed Administrator of Syringa General Hospital in Grangeville.  He held that position for 13 years and then accepted employment with Essentia Health, a large Minnesota-based health care system with hospitals throughout that region and also in Montana and Idaho.  He served as Vice President for Business Development, working with rural hospitals in the Pacific Northwest.  Additionally, he took special assignments in both Montana and Idaho.  He became the interim CEO of the Great Falls Hospital for 18 months and worked to put the hospital and its many clinics on a path for integration with a larger system. 

In 2010, he became CEO of St. Benedict’s Hospital in Jerome, where he oversaw the successful merger of that hospital into the St. Luke’s Healthcare System.  After this transaction closed, he retired in 2011.

He has enjoyed challenging and gratifying board service: nine years on the Blue Cross of Idaho Board.  He was elected to the Idaho Hospital Association Board and served as its Chairman in 2001.  Other board affiliations included the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the University of Idaho National Alumni Association.

For work/life balance, Jess is a committed River Rat, a Baldy Mountain skier, a chukar hunter, golfer, and proud founding member of the Chiseled Features Running Club.

He and his wife, Iris, find joy spending time with their family: three kids and two grandchildren, all of whom live in Idaho.  They split time between their homes in Boise and Jug Mountain Ranch in McCall.

An Idaho native, Jess earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Idaho.  He values the enduring friendships forged with his law school classmates.

John P. Howard

John P. Howard is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law. John and his wife, Patty, live in Boise.

Ronald D. Howen

Ronald D. Howen is a graduate of the University of California-Davis School of Law (King Hall). Ronald and his wife, Amy, live in Lakeview, Oregon.

Alan K. Hull

Alan K. Hull is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Alan and his wife, Cathy, live in Boise.

Peter J. Hutchinson

Peter J. Hutchinson is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Peter and his wife, Donna, live in St. Maries.

Ray D. Johnson

Ray D. Johnson is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Ray and his wife, Vicki, live in Meridian.

Terry L. Johnson

Terry L. Johnson is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Terry and his wife, Carolyn, live in Hagerman.

Dennis R. Jones

Dennis R. Jones is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Dennis and his wife, Kerry, live in Boise.

Steven L. Kauer

Steven L. Kauer is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Steven and his wife, Patricia, live in Blackfoot.

James P. (“Jim”) Kaufman
James P. (“Jim”) Kaufman

James (“Jim”) Kaufman was married in August 1968 and began law school at the University of Idaho College of Law shortly thereafter.  Almost immediately he was drafted into the Army for the Vietnam War but was able to complete the first year of school before reporting.  Jim returned in 1971 and finished the last two years, then started his career with the Attorney General’s Office in the criminal division in the fall of 1973.  In 1975, he moved to the Department of Finance and worked with the team regulating the offering and sale of securities.

While there, the Hunt brothers from Dallas made the corporate raid on the Sunshine Mine Corp., which took Jim around the country for a year.  Working with large law firms specializing in corporate takeovers was quite an experience for a young, small-town attorney, and he learned to appreciate the simple life. 

In 1978, Jim left state government for private practice with the firm of Anderson, Kaufman, Anderson & Ringert, which eventually became known as Ringert Clark Chartered, and then finally Ringert Law Chartered.

Not knowing any better, Jim accepted a request from the federal court to represent a person charged with a crime, before they would tell him the name of the defendant.  It turned out to be a member of the Aryan Nations charged with having enough weapons to outfit a small army.  During the case, he met people having extreme racist views and general hatred for others.  Whether for political or religious reasons, they felt justified in conducting a war against the world.  It was an experience Jim decided not to repeat.

Jim’s practice eventually settled into estate planning, guardianships, and conservatorships. He was one of the initial attorneys specializing in the area and co-authored the guardianship/conservatorship and probate form books that are still in use today.

In 2014, the firm of Ringert Law Chartered dissolved and Jim started a new firm with his partner James G. Reid, which was known as Kaufman Reid PLLC.  They enjoyed practicing together until Jim moved to his retirement firm, Gravis Law PLLC, in February 2020. 

Jim is a past member and president of the Treasure Valley Estate Planning Council, a member of the Trust and Estates Professionals, Inc., and part of the team that convinced the Idaho Legislature that common law marriage is no longer needed in Idaho.  He is also a member and past president of the Taxation, Probate & Estate Planning Section of the Idaho State Bar, a past member of the Idaho Supreme Court Guardianship Committee, and is currently a member of the Boise Estate Planning Council.

Jim’s career has focused on helping people with reasonable planning for incapacity and the transfer of assets to the next generation in a manner in which they are least likely to struggle.  He has been involved in many cases with bitter family dissention, trying to help them through the process expediently.  It has been quite a challenge at times.  It is not the system at fault, but an awkward plan and family discord that causes the difficulty.  The hundreds of guardianship and conservatorship cases in which he has been involved have provided many memories.

Jim initially went to college intending to study oceanography, but soon realized that was not his true calling.  It was helping people with their personal estate issues.  Jim has enjoyed a wonderful career and if given the chance, would do it all over again.

David J. Knowlton

David J. Knowlton is a graduate of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. David lives in Ogden, Utah.

William F. Lee

William F. Lee is a graduate of the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law. William lives in Emmett.

John C. Lynn
John Lynn enjoying some fishing out on the water. Photo courtesy of John Lynn.

As John Lynn looks back over the years, he feels mostly lucky. He somewhat fell into law school. He was teaching at a federal prison for deferment purposes – deferment from the Vietnam war draft. This was a younger, racially tense population. He learned far more than what he taught. A couple inmates asked to write an article about what to expect in prison from a teacher’s perspective. It was objective and not positive. The administration took offense and fired John. Unbeknownst to him, the professional staff objected and petitioned for his reinstatement. By the time John got the notice, he had been accepted into law school. That was his first experience with the First Amendment.

In those days you didn’t need a life-plan at age 22. John could afford the $500 tuition on his janitor’s pay. Times have changed! It was great, particularly living in Ann Arbor in the early 70’s. In his final year, he worked part-time for an older lawyer (Carl) in a nearby small town with a ski hill (in southern Michigan, no less). Carl remodeled his office and wanted John to, basically, inherit his practice – an opportunity of a lifetime, so to speak. But growing up in the Midwest, John had always wanted to go to the mountains. So, John gave Carl a hug and chose Boise instead – population 60,000. “Two roads diverged in a wood…”

John was warmly received by the local bar – people like Allyn Dingel and Charlie McDevitt. He learned a lot the hard way. He recalls arguing a legal point a bit too far before a very distinguished district judge. The judge, in so many words, ordered John to sit down and shut up. John needed to apologize so he went to chambers the next day. Before he could get it all out, the judge said, “Wait John, it was my fault too – I overreacted.” This set the tone for decades of helping people get out of one form of trouble or another.

John said he must give tribute to his two partners for most of this time – Gar Hackney and Larry Scott, both deceased. They collected stories about funny things. This kept them going in the right direction. John enjoyed the employment/whistleblower cases the most. “What goes around comes around,” he says.

John is mostly retired now, living half-time in Mexico – a different place with a different way of doing things. He is content and has a loving family. But living in the relative tranquility of Mexico, he can see what he calls the great unraveling in the U.S. – at least from headline news. The loss of decency and civility, most illustrated by dysfunctional politics. He says he sees a reckoning for democracy – a war, really. On one side are the crazies creeping relentlessly toward authoritarianism – the last refuge for the true believers. On the other are you, his fellow lawyers and jurists. He hopes he’s wrong. But thinking some of you will have to become foot soldiers against the looming chaos, armed only with ideas like due process, respect for the law, and legal accountability. John thanks you all in advance on behalf of the grandchildren. Good luck.

J. Frederick Mack

J. Frederick Mack is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Frederick and his wife, Mona, live in Boise.

Raymond J. Malouf, Jr.

Raymond N. Malouf, Jr. is a graduate of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. Raymond and his wife, Sharyl, live in Logan, Utah.

Stephen J. McGrath
Steve McGrath fishing in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Steve McGrath.

Born into a family history of lawyers dating back to 1881, Stephen McGrath grew up in rural Iowa, where his father, James W. McGrath, practiced law for over 50 years in the first courthouse built in the State of Iowa (1840).

Steve received his education at the University of Iowa (B.A., 1968), University of Stockholm, Sweden (1966-67), University of Idaho College of Law (J.D., 1973), and then served briefly in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam conflict.

He first engaged in the general practice of law in Idaho Falls in 1973 with an emphasis in litigation and mediation, successfully mediating several hundred cases. He never lost a jury trial or appeal to the Idaho Court of Appeals or the Idaho Supreme Court during his 35-year career.

Steve served on the Idaho State Bar Professional Conduct Board for three terms, the third being at the request of then-bar counsel and with special approval of the Idaho Supreme Court due to then-applicable term limits. While actively practicing, he received the Idaho State Bar’s Professionalism Award and Service Award.

By way of public service, he served on the original Idaho Depredation Committee dealing with depredation by wildlife on agricultural crops. Following a negotiated settlement between sportsmen and the agricultural representatives, Steve assisted legislative counsel in drafting Idaho’s wildlife depredation program. (I.C. Sec. 36-1107, et seq.)

He also served on the Idaho Fish and Game Advisory committee and Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation Board of Directors. Steve was instrumental in designing and obtaining legislative approval for Idaho’s elk license plate.

Steve is past general counsel and a director of the North American Elk Breeders Association, and Past president and director of the Elk Research Council, an international animal health research non-profit corporation.

Throughout his legal career, Steve has always stayed busy farming and ranching, hunting and fishing, and managed to travel to over 20 foreign countries which gave him the perspective of how lucky we are to live in America.

He lists his biggest disappointments in his 50 years of the practice of law in Idaho as: the failure of the legislature to provide adequate funding to attract the best candidates for Idaho’s judgeships. The sad day that Idaho’s lawyers made the transition to billing their time in increments of 6/10 of an hour. Since that day, some have become “overly business-like and less professional,” he feels.

Steve is currently happily retired on a small working ranch at the base of a mountain in Swan Valley with his bride of 40 years, Julie. They continue to raise elk and manage a small wildlife sanctuary for the benefit of waterfowl, birds of prey, and occasional moose, elk, and deer.

Harlow J. McNamara

Harlow J. McNamara is a graduate of the George Washington University Law School. Harlow and his wife, Judy, live in Idaho Falls.

Manderson L. Miles, Jr.
Mandy Miles has been a pilot for 45 years – a hobby he quite enjoys. Photo courtesy of Mandy Miles.

Manderson (“Mandy”) Miles began working as an intern in 1972 for Owen L. Knowlton, an attorney in Lewiston, while he was in law school. Owen had a general civil law practice and a public defender contract for Nez Perce County. After graduating from the University of Idaho College of Law, Mandy began practicing full-time in Owen’s law office. Owen and Mandy tried numerous criminal cases including several murder cases. Their general law practice grew to include contracts, real estate, family law, and personal injury, both plaintiff and defense. They represented many interesting people from all walks of life, including loggers, farmers, ranchers, guides and outfitters, business clients, and many others. Mandy truly enjoyed the variety of clients and learning about their issues. He learned a lot about the colorful history of Idaho and its people.

Over the years Mandy has been awarded the Pro Bono and Professionalism Awards for the Second District Bar Association. He appreciated the education he received at the University of Idaho College of Law and enjoyed working with many lawyers in Idaho and other states. Four of the lawyers from his firm are now judges and he is proud of their service. The law firm of Knowlton & Miles is still active with attorney Rick Cuddihy and Joe Schumacher.

Mandy has been a pilot for 45 years and has flown his Cessna 180 to Alaska, Mexico, Canada, all over the Idaho backcountry, and the Western States. He enjoys fishing, camping, bible study, flying, and bird hunting.

Mandy has two children, Sonja and Spencer, who both attended the University of Idaho and are both successful in financial jobs and business. He also has two granddaughters who are his pride and joy.

Paul B. Mosley

Paul B. Mosley is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Paul and his wife, Marjorie, live in Long Beach, California.

Hugh V. Mossman
Photo courtesy of Hugh Mossman.

Hugh Mossman was admitted to the Iowa Bar Association in 1971 and practiced in his dad’s Iowa law firm briefly before starting his ROTC commitment (his dad loved to remind him years later of the potential litigation he faced from Hugh’s first wills and title opinions). Following the Army Reserves, Hugh moved to Idaho, where he was employed as an Ada County public defender, city prosecutor, and eventually Boise City attorney.

In 1981, he went into private practice specializing in litigation, worker’s compensation, and social security disability and served as the president of the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association in 1996. He was very proud and fortunate when his daughter, Taylor, joined the practice resulting in a gradual shift from law to babysitting, climbing mountains, and watercolor painting.

Fifty years is indeed a milestone and looking back, Hugh says how lucky he has been to share it with colleagues, clients, and friends in the legal community and, of course, his wife, Barb, and daughter, Taylor.

Douglas R. Nelson

Douglas Nelson is a fourth generation Idahoan raised in rural Bonneville County, spending much of his youth at his grandparents’ farm milking cows and chasing chickens.  He graduated from Bonneville High School where he participated in wrestling, concert band, student government, and debate.  Doug attended Brigham Young University with the aid of a debate scholarship and enjoyed competing in tournaments throughout the United States. He also participated in the National Model United Nations Competition held at the U.N. in New York City.

Doug received an “early” admission to the University of Utah College of Law where he graduated with high honors at the age of 23.  He returned to Idaho Falls and joined the Sharp, Anderson and Bush law firm, which after 50 years in the same location, is known as Nelson Hall Parry Tucker, PLLC.

Doug and his wife, Billie Call Nelson, have been married for 52 years.  Their six children include five daughters who followed their mother in receiving education degrees and one son, Ryan Nelson, who currently serves as a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

During high school Doug worked as a news photographer for KID-TV, a CBS affiliate, where he filmed stories as diverse as automobile crashes, political campaigns, and the 1965 visit of President Lyndon Johnson to the Idaho National Laboratory.

Doug has enjoyed a diverse legal career.  During law school he clerked for the Utah Attorney General’s Security Fraud Office and held teaching assistant positions in criminal law and estate planning.  His early practice included commercial litigation, small business organizations, and representing lenders in state and federal court with several arguments before the Idaho Supreme Court.  During the 1980s “farm crisis” his practice focused on troubled loan resolution and included representation before Congressional committees in Washington, D.C.

In recent years, Doug’s practice has emphasized estate planning and education law.  He is a past president of the East Idaho Estate Planning Council and has provided numerous continuing education presentations relating to lending, estates, and education law.  He has served as a lecturer for the Idaho State University and Brigham Young University-Idaho Departments of Education.

Doug has enjoyed church and community service.  He has served as an LDS bishop, stake presidency member, and as a director of public affairs.  He is a past president of the Bonneville United Way, Idaho Falls YMCA, and Idaho Falls Civitan and Rotary Clubs.  He served for several years on the “Big Sky” and the Western States boards for YMCA of America.  Doug is a past Chairman of the Idaho Community Foundation where he and Billie maintained a charitable fund and served on various advisory and grants panels for many years.  Their work has emphasized assistance for non-traditional students re-engaging with post- secondary education, local school educational enhancement, and addressing food insecurity.  Recently, Doug was instrumental in repurposing a 17,000 square foot LDS meeting house into a new food distribution and self- reliance education center operated by the Regional Council for Christian Ministry in the Idaho Falls area.

Doug is the recipient of various recognitions, including the Idaho Community Foundation’s Friend of the Foundation award, the Idaho State Bar Professionalism Award, and the Idaho Governor’s Home-Town Hero Award.

Doug’s hobbies have included skiing, boating, historical biography, artistic glass work, and tennis.  He has competed in several USTA Sectional and National championship competitions where his personal motto was, “age and treachery can prevail over youth and athleticism.”  Recently, he and Billie have been spending time on their Pickleball court, entertaining their 27 grandchildren, or exploring various deserts around Palm Springs, California.

John P. Nollette

John Patrick Nollette is a graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law. John lives in Spokane, Washington.

John M. Ohman

John Ohman moved to Idaho Falls immediately following his graduation from Creighton University Law School on his 22nd birthday.  The first 50 have been fantastic and rewarding in so many ways! Though he knew no one, he found the community – and particularly the local bar members – to be very welcoming.  That has continued to this day. His years have indeed rewarded him with friendships beyond measure – clients, attorneys, judges, and citizenry of all persuasions.  Financial success has been important, but pales in comparison to those rewards.

Gratification comes in many ways!  Reflecting on the thousands (yes, literally thousands) of clients whom John had been privileged to assist brings pride and satisfaction to his legal career.  Each case, each client, each experience has a lasting effect, regardless of the outcome.  And, yes, he has won some, and lost some – but never with regret, for the commitment to the law and to justice is what the practice of law is and continues to be! His membership in the Idaho State Bar has provided these memorable experiences of a lifetime and a career without regrets.

One of John Ohman’s photos demonstrating that the rigors of law do not age you. Photos courtesy of John Ohman.

We often ask, “If you had it to do all over again, would you?” Sure, there have been changes, some of considerable magnitude, with effects not anticipated or easily measured, (e.g., lawyer advertising, less collegiality, high litigation costs, prolonged delays), but all in all, John still subscribes to the high values and worth of our profession. “Lawyers are the most learned of profoundly ignorant men (and women)” – every day is a new one, with something new learned on each of them.  Approach each day with alacrity, and sagacity in results.

His practice allowed full participation in all sorts of other activities, each meaningful in their own way.  Whether a state board (Idaho Transportation Board, Association for the Humanities – now Idaho Humanities Council), a bar committee (Unauthorized Practice of Law, bar exam grading, etc.), a civic club (Civitans, Elks) or volunteering for eleemosynary events, all are integral and vital to building, maintaining, and enjoying a thriving law practice.

As we all know, support is critical to sustaining the demands of a law practice and to meeting the rigors of any active trial schedule, and John would be remiss if he did not recognize the unconditional love and support of his family members, immediate and extended.  His appreciation goes to all, but first to his wife, Elaine, and his daughters, Brittany and Andrea.  John could then express gratitude to his 10 siblings and all their families. (Mom always said, “With the numbers of family members, you don’t need other clients.”)

His practice has overall been a general practice, with an emphasis on litigation.  Long before the pressure to identify with either the plaintiffs’ bar or the defense bar, John was fortunate to engage in both, with memberships in the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association and the Idaho Defense Council. John found both plaintiff’s work and defense work to be both challenging and gratifying.  He was very proud to be designated as a certified trial specialist, undoubtedly resulting from innumerable court appearances and over 100 jury trials. Humbling also is his AV rating by Martindale Hubbel. Participation in the Eagle Rock Inns of Court, the Seventh Judicial District Bar Association, the Idaho State Bar, and Nebraska Bar also contributed to whatever successes John attained – sometimes in spite of himself, and not because he felt he was deserving.

John is also grateful for his status as a veteran, having been commissioned as an officer while in college, and having served as an ordnance officer, primarily at Aberdeen Proving Ground (MD).

His bar memberships include the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. District Courts for both Idaho and Nebraska, and Supreme Courts for both Idaho and Nebraska – and while he has enjoyed each, his heart has always been in the trial courts where commitment, dedication, and lots of good luck provide the rewards discussed.

Now entering Senior Status, John finds the time to do many of the things he had neglected, or set aside, and anxiously awaits the benefits of continued travel, home and abroad, volunteer work with charities, pleasure reading (instead of law cases and legal briefs), and enjoying family, to include grandchildren of whom he is particularly fond, and by whose existence make him blessed beyond measure.

Yes, he would do it all over again!  And he encourages each of you to take pride in what you do, be satisfied in knowing the extent to which you have served your clients, and be humbled by the extent to which you are held in esteem by your communities. Your success is in your control, and it is not measured in dollars.   Set goals, remain relevant, perform to the best of your abilities. Focus on what is right.  The road ahead is yours – go pave your way.

John would like to note that the accompanying pictures well demonstrate that the rigors of law do not age you.   Notice there is no perceptible change in his appearance from the 50-year-old picture and the current one. John wishes you the very best in the years to come.

James W. Phillips
Jim in the Boulder Mountains. Photo courtesy of Jim Phillips.

In reflecting upon James (“Jim”) Phillips’ 50 years of practicing law, several things come to his mind. First, is the opportunity it gave him to be involved in his community to help preserve the best and shape the future of the special place where he had the good fortune to find home, family, and friends. Second, is the ability it gave him to help people often in troubling times. Finally, it is an interesting way to make a living with the flexibility (if one chooses) to have many adventures along the way.  Jim wishes to thank the all the people who personally and professionally helped him over the years.

Photo caption for “Phillips, James:” Jim in the Boulder Mountains. Photo courtesy of Jim Phillips.

John R. Porter

John R. (“Jack”) Porter is a graduate of Stanford University Law School. Jack and his wife, Cathy, live in Moscow.

David L. Posey

David Lee Posey is a graduate of Texas Tech University School of Law. David lives in Payette.

Jerry D. Reynolds

Jerry D. Reynolds is a graduate of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. Jerry lies in St. Anthony.

Ernesto G. Sanchez
Ernesto G. Sanchez

Ernesto came to Idaho as a migrant farmworker.  He was born in Texas, the sixth of ten children.  The family travelled throughout Texas, the South, the Midwest, and the Northwest following the crops.  The family finally settled in Pingree, Idaho.  He graduated from Snake River High School in 1963, Idaho State University (B.A.) in 1969, and the University of Idaho College of Law (J.D.) in 1972.  He was the first Latino to graduate from the University of Idaho College of Law.  He was also the first Latino admitted to practice law in Idaho.

Ernesto had a passion for fairness and for helping the disadvantaged.  He joined Idaho Legal Aid Services (“ILAS”) in the Caldwell office.  He received a Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship for four consecutive years to work at ILAS.  His entire career was spent with ILAS, as a legal intern, staff attorney, and managing attorney.  In 1978, he became Executive Director, a position he held until his retirement.  In that position, he was instrumental in expanding ILAS offices statewide and in establishing the ILAS Indian Law Unit and the Migrant Farmworkers Law Unit.

Ernesto was involved with national legal services organizations including the National Project Advisory Group.  He also served on the National Legal Aid & Defender Association Board of Directors, where he served as Secretary-Treasurer.  He was active in representing Native Americans and Latinos through his career.  He helped in creating the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs.  He also worked to secure workman’s compensation for farmworkers.  He co-founded the Idaho Hispanic Caucus and the Idaho Hispanic Caucus Institute for Research and Education and served as the organizations’ first President for several years.  He served on the Idaho State Department of Employment Advisory Council for many years.

Ernesto was active in the Idaho State Bar (“ISB”), the Idaho Law Foundation (“ILF”), and the Idaho Supreme Court.  He served on ISB and Idaho Supreme Court Committees, including the Idaho Supreme Court Fairness and Equality Committee.  He also served on the University of Idaho College of Law Advisory Council.  He was active in the establishment of the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program and the Access to Justice Idaho campaign.  He was the first recipient of the Idaho State Bar Diversity Section’s “Justice for All” award.  

Ernesto received several awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs and United Vision for Idaho.  He was also a recipient of the University of Idaho President’s Medallion.

Ernesto credits all his accomplishments to the support of his family, friends, co-workers, and colleagues. He enjoys the great Idaho outdoors especially camping, RV-ing, fishing, hiking, exploring the back country, and rock hounding.  

He currently lives in Boise with his wife of 42 years, Kathleen Hobdey-Sánchez.  His three children, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren all live in Boise.

Andrew M. Schwam

Andrew M. Schwam is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law. Andrew lives in Pullman, Washington.

Kenneth M. Sebby
Ken and his wife, Patty. Photo courtesy of Ken Sebby.

Ken graduated with distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln, Nebraska.  He first worked with Michael E. McNichols in Orofino, then in Boise with Quane, Smith, Howard and Hull, and later with Elam Burke and Boyd.  The last half of his career was with the Department of the Interior (“DOI”), Office of the Solicitor, Boise Field Solicitor’s Office, representing DOI Bureaus and Offices, including the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Geological Survey, Office of Aviation Services, National Interagency Fire Center, and the Firefighter and Law Enforcement Retirement Team.  He practiced before the Interior Board of Lands Appeals, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Federal District Court in conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Office.  Issues included Federal Tort Claims Act Administrative Determinations, mining contests, rights-of-way, grazing and trespass disputes, personnel issues, and retirement claims.

He has enjoyed practicing with many fine judges, hearing officers, and lawyers in Idaho and other jurisdictions, and has appreciated the hard work, dedication, and courtesies bestowed by county clerks, court clerks, and other court officials and public employees over the years.

Ken and his wife, Patty, have been married for 54 years.  They have two sons, Matthew and Thomas, both Maniacs, having been born in Orofino.  In 2012, they moved aboard their 1991 Kady Krogen Widebody 42 Foot Trawler “OOGACHAKA” berthed in Umatilla, Oregon.  They explored the Columbia River from Astoria to Kennewick, Oregon and the Snake River east to Lewiston, Idaho as a training ground.  In 2012, they crossed the Columbia River Bar and headed north along the Pacific Coast to extended stops on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and Sydney, British Columbia, Canada, for provisioning and improvements to the boat before embarking on a leisurely four-month cruise through the Inside Passage north to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and back.  They then motored to San Diego in preparation for the 2012  Baha HaHa group cruise to Cabo San Lucas and spent the next year cruising as far south as Zhuateneo and then back north through the Sea of Cortez before staging at Puerto Vallarta for the 2,750 nautical mile trip to Nuka Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas’ Islands in French Polynesia, Fakarava in the Tuamotus, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Vava’u in Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Sydney, Australia where they sold Oogachaka.

Ken and Patty presently live in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where they dote on their grandchildren, try to stay warm, and ponder what is next.

William H. Shibley

William H. Shibley is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. William and his wife, Patricia, live in Long Beach, California.

Milton A. Slavin
Milton (“Jock”) Slavin

Milton A. (“Jock”) Slavin of Salmon became interested in becoming an attorney at an early age. As a youngster his parents wanted to acquire property near the family homestead at Carmen and engaged a family friend and local attorney, Charles Herndon, to help them through that process. It was a good learning experience that helped encourage Jock to aim towards a career in the law. He earned a business degree from the University of Idaho, worked for Lockheed Martin during Vietnam, then was accepted to, and graduated from, the University of Idaho College of Law in 1973. He has served as a public defender, city attorney, county attorney, magistrate judge, and helped numerous friends and neighbors with their different legal quandaries.

Jock has also served as President of the local Rotary Club, as Chairman of the Church Board, held various leadership positions in the Masonic organization, and is a longtime Elks member.

Jock and his wife, Roberta, met when they were teenagers and together raised three boys, Matt, Chace, and John. They enjoy Idaho and all the outdoor opportunities that it has to offer. In their younger years they enjoyed skiing, but have taken up pickleball, become snowbirds, and now spend their winters in warmer weather.

Robert W. Stahman

Robert W. Stahman is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Robert and his wife, Myrna, live in Boise.

Randall L. Stamper

Randall L. Stamper is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School. Randall and his wife, Conni, live in Spokane, Washington.

Robert P. Stephens

Robert P. Stephens is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. Robert and his wife, Sharon, live in Spokane, Washington.

Paul S. Street
Paul S. Street

Paul Street graduated from the College of Idaho in 1970 and the University of Washington School of Law in 1973.

Paul has practiced law as a corporate and business lawyer for 50 years. After clerking for the Idaho Supreme Court, Paul joined the Moffatt Thomas law firm in 1974. In 1999, he became General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Building Materials Holding Corporation – a publicly held building materials and lumber distribution company. In 2015, it merged and became BMC Stock Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BMCH) and Paul became General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of the merged company. BMCH was a leading provider of diversified building products and services for the residential construction industry, with over $3 billion in sales, 10,000 employees, and 93 distribution locations in 18 states. Paul retired from BMCH in 2017. He joined Hawley Troxell in an Of Counsel role in 2017.  In 2020 and 2021, Paul served as interim general counsel for Healthwise Incorporated.

Throughout his career, Paul has had an active transactional practice representing both sellers and buyers. In his role as General Counsel, he oversaw the legal aspects of financing the corporation through asset-based loans and the issuance of notes. Paul also had responsibility for SEC filings and compliance along with corporate governance.

Paul has been a member of the Idaho State Bar Business and Corporate Law Section since its beginning. He served as Secretary for the Committee on Corporate Laws of the American Bar Association. He currently serves on the board of the Idaho Pacific Lumber Company and the Northwest Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors. He has served as a Trustee of the College of Idaho and Chairman of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Paul and his wife, Peggy, have a combined family of four children and six grandchildren.

David J. Thornton, Jr.
Photo courtesy of David Thornton, Jr.

David Thornton was hired by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) as a tax attorney in the Seattle district after passing the Washington State and Idaho State bar exams in the summer of 1973. Following his IRS tenure, his practice has been solely focused on sophisticated estate and tax planning matters for high-net-worth individuals and significant privately held companies.  In the 1980s, he had a brief four-year stint where he had an honest job and served as the Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel for a telecommunications company in Seattle. During his time there, they completed joint ventures with a number of companies including Pacific Bell and Korean Gold Star.  Following the sale of the company, David returned to practice as a partner with several large regional law firms.  Fortunately, in the early 1990s, he was able to return to Boise to start his own firm, which has now grown to eight tax attorneys specializing in advanced estate and tax strategies and tax controversy.

David served as lead counsel on three significant tax cases in the Ninth Circuit that are currently the legal benchmarks for the valuation of closely held corporations and family partnerships.  He also served as Chairman of four American Bar Association committees focused on advanced estate and tax planning issues and has also served on 20 nationally recognized CLE panels focused on advanced tax planning.

He and his wife, Vikki, have been married for over 40 years and are fortunate to have four amazing children and four superior grandchildren.  Fortunately, most of them live in Boise which gives them the opportunity to spend a great deal of time attending sporting events and spending time together.  The family frequently visits their home in La Quinta during the winter.

One of the most rewarding aspects of his professional career is the opportunity to have participated on numerous charitable boards including the Boys and Girls Club, Eastside Catholic Highschool, Bishop Kelly High School, St. Luke’s Planned Giving Board, the College of Idaho Foundation, and the Boise Symphony.  David also established the foundations that raised funds for Eastside Catholic Highschool in Bellevue, Washington and Bishop Kelly in Boise, Idaho.  He also received recognition as an outstanding alumnus at the University of Idaho.

Ron J. Twilegar
Ron J. Twilegar

Ron Twilegar grew up in Boise, graduated from Boise High School in 1962, and received a business degree from the University of Idaho. Mr. Twilegar spent two years in Vietnam before receiving his law degree from George Washington University in 1971. He served as staff member for then-Rep. Jim McClure. He also owned a statewide polling organization.

Most people know Ron Twilegar as a Boise city councilman, or perhaps remember his days as a Boise legislator and state Senate minority leader. While Mr. Twilegar’s passion remains in politics, he puts his considerable energy into a variety of interests. For instance, he once led his family and 22 others on a group assault of Idaho’s highest peak, Mount Borah. He climbed Mount Hood in Oregon, fished for salmon off Alaska, and ran in a Paris Marathon.

Ron won election to the statehouse from Boise’s North End in 1974, the first democrat elected from Ada County in 38 years. Two years later, he moved to the state Senate and served as minority leader from 1980 to 1982. In 1983, with downtown redevelopment mired in controversy, Ron ran for Boise City Council and received the highest percentage ever in a multicandidate field. He let the fight to redevelop downtown with a mix of uses.

In addition, Mr. Twilegar co-founded the Capitol Classic children’s footrace. Ron has five children: three biological and two adopted. He will jump around from his homes in Boise, San Francisco, the cabin in the woods of the Idaho Mountains, somewhere near Hood Rives, Portland, or the coast. He enjoys traveling and is intrigued by curious thoughts by others. “When your life comes to a fork in the road…take it” – Yogi Berra

John W. Walker

John Walker began his legal career in October 1973 in Moscow, Idaho with Felton, Bielenberg and Anderson. He continues to practice law with Michael J. Pattinson in Moscow. John has been admitted to practice law before the Idaho, Washington, and Oregon Supreme Courts. He is admitted to appear before the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States of America. In January 1977, John argued a felony murder case before the Supreme Court of the United States of America with Moscow attorney Allen V. Bowles. Over the last 50 years his areas of emphasis include criminal, civil litigation, personal injury, wills, probates, and estates.

Over the years, John has practiced with and against many of Idaho’s finest lawyers and appeared before many excellent judges. John is a recipient of the Idaho State Bar Professionalism Award. He continues membership in the American Association for Justice (AAJ, aka ATLA) and the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association (“ITLA”). He served on the ITLA Board of Directors. John is AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

John has enjoyed his long-standing association with the University of Idaho. He is a member of Vandal Boosters. John served on the University of Idaho Alumni Board of Directors and was President of the Board in 2001. He instructed “Practice Court and Procedure” with Professor Craig Lewis at the University of Idaho College of Law for 10 years.

John has enjoyed many recreational activities including bird hunting, fishing, golfing, and piloting his jet boat on the beautiful Snake, Salmon, and Clearwater Rivers. He has had the privilege and pleasure of fishing with friends and family at a variety of locations including Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Canada, Florida, and Cabo San Lucas. John resides in Moscow with his faithful English Springer Spaniel, Ozzie.

Glen E. Wegner

Glen E. Wegner is a graduate of American University, Washington College of Law. Glen and his wife, Lynn, live in Boston, Massachusetts.

Lucinda Weiss
Lucinda Weiss

Lucinda Weiss was born in 1950 in Akron, Ohio. She attended school in Akron and graduated from Old Trail School. Thereafter, Weiss attended the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio, where she originally studied chemistry. Weiss relocated after finishing her sophomore year at Wooster to Moscow, Idaho and enrolled in summer school at the University of Idaho to keep herself occupied. During the summer of 1969, Weiss interviewed at the College of Law “for practice.” She reversed her transfer to the University of Idaho that August, however, once she learned that she had enough credits to be a senior at Wooster, but only a junior at the University of Idaho. Weiss returned for her third and final year at Wooster, changing her course of study from chemistry to political science and French culture.

In 1970, Weiss began her studies at the University of Idaho College of Law. Weiss excelled academically in the law school and served on the Idaho Law Review. In 1972, she became the first woman at the University of Idaho to participate in Boise Cascade’s law internship program – intentionally or not, setting her on a corporate career path. Weiss graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law in 1973 and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar that fall. Her first job as a lawyer was with the small general practice firm of Bandelin & Featherstone (later Bandelin & Associates) in Sandpoint. Then, in 1974, at the age of 24, Weiss was elected prosecuting attorney for Bonner County – making her one of the youngest prosecutors in the nation and only one of three women elected to such a position nationwide that year.

Weiss joined the legal department of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in 1976, making her the first woman attorney in the tire industry. That began a more than 25-year career in law and management at the world-renowned tire company, which now conducts business in more than 60 countries and on six continents. Outside of her regular work, Weiss has had a passion for the professional and educational development of others. She co-founded and was the first president of the Women’s Initiatives in Leadership, Goodyear’s mentoring and leadership development group.

Lucinda lives in St. Augustine, Florida.

Hon. William H. Woodland

Hon. William H. Woodland is a graduate of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. William lives in Pocatello.

Lawrence J. Young

Lawrence J. Young is a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law. Lawrence lives in Hailey.