Passing the Torch: Retiring Senior Judge Mick Hodges’ Pro Bono and Community Service in Idaho by Jacquelyn Pill

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Judge Hodges finishing the Practice with Purpose tour at the Idaho Falls Courthouse on October 20, 2022, sharing his passion for pro bono work.

The Honorable Judge Mick Hodges retired from his role as a senior magistrate judge in December 2023. In May 2024, he will retire from the Idaho Pro Bono Commission. His career is distinguished by an inspiring devotion to pro bono legal work and community service.

Judge Hodges graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Boise State University in 1977. There, he met his wife of 47 years, Kyle Hodges, who was completing her nursing degree. After graduating, Judge Hodges held several roles at Farmers Insurance Group, taking him and Kyle to Pocatello. In 1982, they moved to Marsing, where Judge Hodges owned and published the weekly Owyhee Nugget newspaper. He published the paper until 1984, when he began law school at the University of Idaho. After graduating cum laude, Judge Hodges practiced in the private sector in Twin Falls for nearly thirty years, eventually becoming a solo practitioner. He also worked on pro bono cases through Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc., eventually becoming its president.

In 2008, he was appointed as a magistrate judge for the Fifth Judicial District in Cassia County, which marked a shift in his community involvement. When he took on his new role in the judiciary, he resigned from Idaho Legal Aid and, instead, engaged in various service organizations, like the Kiwanis Club. He also supported Kyle in founding and managing a very successful school district meal program, which sent students home with backpacks containing meals for the weekends.

In addition to Judge Hodges’ civic involvement, he became a member of the Idaho Pro Bono Commission (“PBC”). The Idaho Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the District of Idaho formed the PBC in 2008, the same year of Judge Hodges’ magistrate court appointment. The PBC is comprised of judges and other legal professionals who donate their time to improving access to pro bono legal services in Idaho. It tasked its chairs with establishing local pro bono committees. Judge Hodges primarily oversaw the local committee in the Fifth District, including meeting with attorneys at least once every quarter at Gertie’s Brick Oven Cookery in Twin Falls. His main objective was to recognize attorneys for their contributions.

He also collaborated with Judge Rick Carnaroli, now the Sixth Judicial District administrative judge, by organizing a friendly pro bono competition among attorneys in the Fifth and Sixth Districts. The attorneys kept track of their pro bono hours and, at the conclusion of a set period, the attorney with the most hours chose the golf course where they held a charity golf scramble. The event also included a hamburger fry, opportunities to earn continuing legal education credits, and, overall, generated publicity for pro bono endeavors. Despite the competitive nature of the events, Judge Hodges was heartened by many attorneys choosing not to report all their pro bono hours, even when doing so would have won them the competition.

Judge Hodges continued his service on the PBC as a senior judge. In October 2022, he embarked on a “Practice with Purpose” tour with the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program (“IVLP”) to talk about pro bono work and emeritus attorney limited licenses.[1] Emeritus licenses allow attorneys to practice law for an approved legal service organization, like IVLP and Idaho Legal Aid, without receiving compensation. They provide a great opportunity for retired attorneys, even those who have never been licensed in Idaho, to serve our communities with their legal expertise. Judge Hodges noted that, prior to the tour, many people did not know what an emeritus license was. Judge Hodges recently joined their ranks and is now an Idaho licensed emeritus attorney.

Judge Hodges’ other post-retirement plans include contributing more at church and establishing a new junior master gardener program in Boise. As an award-winning gardener, who especially enjoys growing tomatoes and dahlias, he looks forward to becoming a recertified Master Gardener himself. Judge Hodges and his family have a “mountain home” in Garden Valley on the south fork of the Payette River, where he will revamp his gardening space, enjoy the local hot springs, bird watch, and organize his woodshop. He will also spend time with Kyle, their golden retriever Indy, and their three daughters and four grandchildren. Judge Hodges and Kyle’s travel plans include returning to Spain and England after enjoying a trip there in Summer 2023. The Hodges family also enjoys fly-fishing together, and this year, Judge Hodges purchased a fly-fishing trip from Expedition Inspiration, which was donated to raise funds for breast cancer research.

Judge Hodges incorporates community service into his everyday life, motivated by the Aristotelian thought: “do good, feel good.” He imparted this wisdom to his children as his parents did to him. His lasting impact in Idaho will hopefully inspire the next generation of lawyers to devote their time to pro bono work – not only because Idaho Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 mandates it, but because, as Judge Hodges puts it, “it’s the right thing to do.” Thank you, Judge Hodges, for your many years of service to the Idaho Pro Bono Commission and to our community.

Jacquelyn Pill

Jacquelyn Pill is a rising 3L student, currently enrolled at Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. She spent her Spring 2024 semester externing in Justice Robyn M. Brody’s chambers at the Idaho Supreme Court. She was raised in Idaho, completed her undergraduate degree at the College of Idaho, and is looking forward to sitting for the Idaho Bar Exam and practicing in Idaho post-graduation. She enjoys reading, working out, and spending time outdoors with her husband and their dog, Simba.