SANDPOINT — Bonner County Magistrate Court Judge Debra Heise is stepping down from the bench after more than 32 years of service.
But the long-serving jurist won’t be stepping away from the court as she has been approved for senior status, which means she will continue to serve as co-director and advisor of judicial education for the Idaho Supreme Court.
Those responsibilities include statewide training for sitting judges and developing orientation programs for incoming judges, duties which Heise has been doing for the past six years.
“Rather than narrowing my life, I view retirement as opening a new chapter. I am the last in my circle of friends to retire, and look forward to joining them in their many adventures,” Heise said in her retirement letter to high court Chief Justice Roger Burdick.
Heise said she finds no greater joy in spending time with her family, especially her children and grandchildren. Heise added, however, that she expect to be dragging them along in her travels and special projects.
“I also find no greater sense of purpose than the role of judge, and am privileged and humbled by the opportunity to have served as judge for over three decades,” Heise wrote in the letter.
Heise’s senior status takes effect on May 31.
Heise received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and earned her law degree from the Florida State University. She was admitted to the bar in the Sunshine state in 1977 and the Gem state bar the following year. She was a partner at the Fuller & Heise law firm in Caldwell before becoming a judge.
The Idaho Supreme Court presented Heise with the George Granata Award in 2005, an accolade that recognizes judges who have made significant contributions to the Idaho judicial system over an extended period of time. It also singles out judges for their professionalism.
Heise was appointed co-director of the Judicial Education for the Idaho Supreme Court in 2011. She’s also served on supreme court committees addressing media, mediation and child support, in addition to local governing boards for the Panhandle Alliance for Education, Kinderhaven and the Panhandle Health District.
The magistrate divisions of Idaho’s district courts hear probate matters, divorce proceedings, criminal misdemeanors, initial felony proceedings and civil cases in which disputes don’t exceed $10,000 in potential damages. Magistrate court judges also hear small claims disputes.
Nine attorneys from around the state are seeking appointment to the bench Heise is vacating. The 1st District Court’s Magistrate Commission will pick Heise’s successor.
The commission is circulating a public questionnaire on qualifications of applicants. The deadline to submit a questionnaire is Friday, Feb. 24. The questionnaire can be downloaded from the 1st District Court website (http://www.co.kootenai.id.us/departments/districtcourt/)
Nine are vying for bench
SANDPOINT — Nine jurists from around the state are candidates for Bonner County Magistrate Court Judge Debra Heise’s bench.
• Patrick Braden, Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai County deputy prosecutor
• Valerie Fenton, Sandpoint, Bonner County deputy prosecutor
• Tera Harden, Caldwell, Canyon County chief public defender
• Tevis Hull, Sagle, Boundary County chief deputy prosecutor
• Susie Jensen, Kootenai, Bonner County chief deputy public defender
• Kinzo Mihara, Coeur d’Alene, attorney at Howard Funke & Associates
• Craig Steveley, Boise, Ada County deputy public defender
• Jay Sturgill, Coeur d’Alene, 1st District Court assistance officer
• Paul Szott, Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai County deputy public defender