Appointment could have historic aspect

SANDPOINT — Barbara Buchanan will make history if Gov. Butch Otter appoints her to be a 1st District judge.

It will be the first time in this judicial district’s history that a woman has been tapped to sit on the district bench, according to Karlene Behringer, trial court administrator for the 1st District.

Buchanan, a sitting magistrate court judge with chambers in Sandpoint, and three other jurists were named to the short list of candidates to succeed Judge Steve Verby, who has been approved for senior status. The other candidates include Sandpoint attorney Brent Featherston, St. Maries attorney Richard Christensen and Scott Wayman, a magistrate court judge in Kootenai County.

The short list of candidates was announced by the Idaho Judicial Council on Dec. 2. There is no deadline for Otter to name Verby’s successor.

Verby transitions to senior status next month.

The judicial council pared the list of candidates from six to four after interviewing the applicants in Sandpoint on Nov. 27.

There are 42 district judges in Idaho and eight — about 19 percent — are women, according to Idaho Supreme Court officials. There are 87 magistrate court judges in Idaho and 12 — about 14 percent — are women.

District judges hear felony criminal cases and civil actions involving sums of money that exceed $10,000. They also hear appeals of decisions made in magistrate court.

Magistrate court judges hear probate matters, divorces, juvenile proceedings, criminal misdemeanors, infractions and civil matters involving damages or claims of $10,000 or less.

Senior judges are those who have retired from full-time work, although they continue to hear cases on an as-needed basis.

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