TWIN FALLS — A local lawyer has been chosen to fill one vacant Fifth Judicial District judgeship.
Ben Cluff of Twin Falls will take the place of now-Idaho Supreme Court Justice Richard Bevan, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter announced Monday, ending a three-month long application process to fill the seat.
“I’m certainly excited,” Cluff said in a Times-News interview. “I’m anxious to get started.”
Cluff, a graduate of Twin Falls High School, has been a partner with Coleman, Ritchie & Cluff law firm since 2010. Before that, he was associated with local firm Hepworth, Lezamiz & Janis.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a law degree from the University of Idaho, Cluff and his wife made a “conscious decision” to move back to the Magic Valley, he said.
“It was somewhere that I thought I could make a difference, and I really have a desire to help the people of the area,” Cluff said.
It’s unknown exactly when the newest Fifth Judicial District judge will start, but it will likely be within the next few weeks, according to trial court administrator Shelli Tubbs. She and Cluff will meet later this week to finalize a start date.
“I know he understands the urgency of the situation we have here in Twin Falls,” Tubbs said.
The judgeship has been open since late September, when Bevan was sworn in as an Idaho Supreme Court justice. Since then, the district has relied on other current and retired district judges to cover Bevan’s duties. “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.”
The appointment fills one of two vacant judgeships in the Fifth Judicial District. The other, left by the death of Judge Randy Stoker earlier this month, will not be filled before the upcoming district judge election.