From the January 2003 Idaho Observer:

Judicial accountibility activists prepare for 2004

POST FALLS -- The Idaho Judicial Accountability Act of 2004 has begun the process to be placed on the 2004 ballot. The initial petition has been filed with the Secretary of State.

After being reviewed by the Attorney General, the State will suggest any changes that the AG believes should be made to the initiative to correct any potential legal or constitutional conflicts. The backers of the initiative can then decide to change the Initiative or ignore the AG's suggestions. Then, the signature gathering petition drive begins. It will take approximately 50,000 signatures to place the initiative on the 2004 ballot.

The 2004 initiative has been substantially re-written. The basic principles of the 2002 JAIL Initiative have been retained, but practical language has been added to ensure that the Special Grand jury will be fully effective and well-implemented.

The 2004 initiative will:

* Repeal and eliminate the Idaho Judicial Council which “has offered a less than one percent chance of remedy for judicial misconduct to the citizens of Idaho.

* Create a Special Grand jury (SGJ) to receive, review, investigate and determine complaints of judicial misconduct.

* Provide for the SGJ jury pool, describe selection, service and rotation of jurors, identify the seat of operations for the SGJ and codify the compensation of jurors and support staff.

* Establish a Judicial Accountability Trust Fund with the intent that the SGJ becomes self-funding by the deduction of three percent from the salaries of all Idaho judicial officer's salaries, the payment of filing fees and fines, and the partial forfeiture of retirement benefits of judicial officers who have received three “strikes” against them.

* Establish procedures for the filing and processing of complaints and sending the cases brought before the SGJ to proper civil or criminal trial courts.

* Place clear limits on judicial immunity while protecting judicial officers from frivolous or harassing filings.

Once judicial officers receive three “strikes” against them from either a civil or criminal trials, the SGJ shall remove that judicial officer from office; they forfeit half their retirement benefits and can no longer hold any judicial office.

The 2004 Initiative will also allow the SGJ to grant “temporary immunity from arrest, prosecution, forfeiture or confiscation of property or the deprivation of rights and/or privileges except in cases of conviction for violent felonies involving actual injury to another person; or felony acts of fraud, theft or property damage exceeding $3,800,” when the SGJ determines there is probable cause to believe that the penalties are the result of “judicial misconduct or abuse of authority.”

The SGJ will also be empowered to consider and grant the writ of habeus corpus in the same manner as the Supreme and District courts.

Once the Idaho Judicial Accountability Act of 2004 is passed by the people, the entire landscape of government can begin a positive change. Judicial officers will become accountable to the laws and the Constitution, no longer enjoying the “absolute immunity” they have so recklessly legislated for themselves. Citizens will then have a responsible judicial arena where other transgressions of government can be held in check. Accountability will spread to the other branches of government. Bad legislation can be challenged in accountable courts. Improper enforcement and agency actions can be curbed in accountable courts. The corrupt layering of unaccountable government can be pared back to its constitutional core.

For more information on the Idaho judicial Accountability Act of 2004, or to help gather signatures for its passage, contact Rose Johnson at 208-773-6274 or via email at

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