TWIN FALLS — The Honorable Benjamin J. Cluff, the newest judge on the Fifth Judicial District bench, took the oath of office Wednesday, in front of a packed courtroom.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter appointed the Twin Falls attorney to fill the seat left vacant by now-Justice Richard Bevan’s recent appointment to the Idaho Supreme Court.
“Justice Bevan leaves big shoes to fill in the Fifth Judicial District,” Otter said in a statement. “But the Magic Valley also has a history of producing some of Idaho’s finest jurists, so I’m confident that Ben Cluff will perform at a high level on the bench.”
Judge Eric Wildman presided over the ceremony.
“I’m probably more excited about his appointment than Ben is,” Wildman told the roomful of county officials, attorneys, judges and court employees, referring to the district court’s recent struggle with two vacant seats on the bench. “It’s been quite a challenge.”
A 1988 Twin Falls High School graduate, Cluff earned his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, and his law degree in 2000 from the University of Idaho. Previously with the firm Hepworth, Lezamiz & Janis, Cluff was a partner in the firm Coleman, Ritchie & Cluff since 2010.
Cluff married Jennifer Sudweeks of Twin Falls in 1995 and the two have a son and a daughter.
Attorney David Coleman introduced Cluff as an eager and hardworking attorney and teased him about his love of hunting and his cold-weather beard, which he said Cluff shaves every year when the weather warms. Coleman and Cluff have been friends since they were young boys growing up south of Twin Falls.
It’s fitting, Coleman said, that Cluff’s new office window in the judicial building looks out on the Twin Falls County Jail, on which Cluff worked as a mason during the summer after he graduated from high school.
“It is my honor to address you as Your Honor,” Coleman said, before turning the floor to Judge Jonathon P. Brody, who administered the oath of office.
After taking the oath, Jennifer Cluff helped her husband don his robe.
Judge Cluff humbly accepted the audience’s applause, and gave a shout out to attorneys John Hepworth and John Lezamiz, Judge John Hohnhorst and now-Justice Robyn Brody, “to whom I owe much of what I know today,” Cluff said.
“I’m truly blessed.”