TWIN FALLS — Twin Falls Judge Richard Bevan has been named to the Idaho Supreme Court.
Bevan, who is the 5th Judicial District’s administrative judge, takes the place of Justice Daniel Eismann, who is retiring at the end of August. The other finalists for the appointment were Boise attorney Rebecca Rainey, 2nd District Judge John Stegner and 7th District Judge Greg Moeller.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter announced Bevan’s appointment Tuesday.
“I am honored and humbled to be chosen as Idaho’s next Supreme Court justice,” Bevan said in a statement. “I appreciate the confidence placed in me throughout this process. I pledge to act with all the power that I possess to be a faithful servant of the United States and Idaho constitutions, to the rule of law and to the people of the state of Idaho.”
Eismann’s last day on the bench is Thursday. Bevan said he still needs to find out when he will assume the Supreme Court seat, and whether they will want him to finish out any of the cases over which he is presiding — he is the judge in the murder case against Gerardo Raul Chavez, accused of killing 15-year-old Vason Lee Widaman, and that trial is scheduled to start next month.
“I have a calendar that’s just crazy between now and November,” Bevan said.
Bevan was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne in 2003 and is in his third three-year term as administrative judge. He was a lawyer in private practice before that and also served a term as Twin Falls County Prosecuting Attorney, a position to which he was elected as a Republican.
As judge, he was instrumental in establishing and presiding over the 5th Judicial District’s Mental Health Court. He also presides over the Veterans’ Treatment Court, which was established in 2015 to hear cases involving veterans with service-related drug, alcohol or mental health challenges. Bevan said his role in those courts has been among the highlights of his career on the bench.
“I’ve just seen that court do amazing things with people with mental health (issues),” he said.
As for cases, Bevan said he will remember the murder cases and ones involving children as victims.
“You just remember those,” he said. “And they stick with you whatever the outcome.”
Bevan plans to run for a full term on the Supreme Court next year. The election is in May, with a runoff possible in November.
“Judge Bevan’s judicial demeanor, his sound and well-reasoned decisions, and his impressive knowledge and understanding of the legal issues that are most consequential to the citizens he serves on the bench recommend him highly for the Supreme Court,” Otter said. “He has consistently tackled tough, socially significant issues with an open mind and a determination to find solutions that protect both the community and the individuals who appear before him.”
Bevan said he loves his job as a trial judge, calling it the highlight of his career. But, he said, he is also likes the idea of reviewing weighty legal issues on the Supreme Court.
“I think an appellate position to sit and think and write and do those things really appeals to me at my age and where I’m at in my career,” he said.
He also looks forward to playing a role on the committees that influence the state’s court system, a role he thinks he will fit well in given his judicial and leadership experience and ability to get along with others.
Bevan will be the third judge on the five-member court with strong ties to the Magic Valley. Justice Robyn Brody practiced law in the Twin Falls area and Mini-Cassia for years before her election. And Chief Justice Roger Burdick’s resume includes years in private practice locally followed by stints as a public defender, prosecutor and finally judge, eventually becoming 5th Judicial District administrative judge.
The 5th District judges will vote to pick one of their own as the new administrative judge for the rest of Bevan’s term, or until the end of 2018, said Trial Court Administrator Shelli Tubbs. If they can’t make a decision, the Idaho Supreme Court will make the pick for them.
The Idaho Judicial Council will accept applications from and interview candidates for the soon-to-be district judge vacancy and recommend a few finalists to Otter, who will name one of them to the court.