BOISE (CN) – An Idaho state judge sued his state Supreme Court, saying he faces immediate, and unfair, suspension from the bench because of a vague residency requirement that the Supreme Court has refused to clarify. Judge John Bradbury, who bought a new home within walking distance of a county courthouse to which he was assigned, says the state Judicial Council has “stonewalled” his requests for clarification, leaving him unable to defend himself.
Bradbury was elected in 2006 to Idaho’s Second Judicial District, which covers three counties. To comply with an Idaho code, he had to “actually reside at the place designated as resident chambers.” So, Bradbury says, he bought a home within walking distance of the Idaho County Courthouse.
Bradbury says he soon found that most of his work was in Clearwater County. To reduce his commuting time, he asked the Judicial Council to amend the residency statute, allowing him to reside in any one of the three counties he serves.
From 2006 through 2008, he says, the Idaho Judicial Conference recommended that the Idaho Supreme Court sponsor the residency amendment. But each year the Supreme Court rejected the recommendation and did not provide Bradbury a hearing or reveal any reasons for the decision, he says.
In 2006 the Judicial Council notified Bradbury that it would conduct an inquiry into whether he was “actually residing” in Idaho County. Bradbury asked that his accuser be identified and says he was told he would be given that information if formal charges were filed.
The Judicial Council found evidence that Bradbury did not reside where he was supposed to. But he says that it never told him what it means to “actually reside” in the county he serves.
Bradbury says had been staying at his previous home several nights a week because it is closer to the place where he does most of his work. And he says that when the Judicial Council did file formal charges against him, it did not give him the information it had promised. This, he says, constitutes “intentional non-compliance” and violates the Council’s own “organic statute and its own rules.”
Bradbury says he cannot defend himself because he has no access to the particulars of the case against him. He is faced with the Judicial Council’s conclusion that he “does not actually reside in Idaho,” and the recommendation that he “be immediately suspended from serving as a District Judge.”
Bradbury adds that the council brought formal charges against him for his travel expense vouchers, which it dropped, because the Council was “apparently unable to convince even itself that saving the Idaho taxpayers thousands of travel dollars was dishonest.”