First Judicial District Court Judges

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

Editor Cameron Rasmusson asked the two judges in contested races a few questions:

1.) What qualities do you think most qualify you to be a First District judge?          

2.) Is there any change in direction or judgment you feel is necessary in First District Court?

3.) What are the most important factors to consider when contemplating a judgment?          

4.) What is the number-one issue courts could better address to benefit Idahoans?

5.) Is there any particular message you want to send out to voters?


John Mitchell

John Mitchell.

1. A) I am fair. There are two (sometimes more) sides to nearly every issue presented to me. I listen to people and show that I am understanding their position.

B) I am always prepared. There is a lot of reading involved with this position, and I always read all that has been submitted prior to going in for the hearing.

C) I know I am hard working, I always have been. I do much more than I have to as a judge. Presiding over the Mental Health Court as I have for the past 14 years takes about 10 hours a week. This is purely time that I volunteer because it is over and above my already-large caseload. In other words, I receive no reduction in my regular caseload and I receive no extra pay for presiding over the Mental Health Court.

D) I hold people accountable. Whether it is the people or entities appearing before me, or their attorneys or agencies with whom I interact, I hold people accountable, and I hold myself accountable.

E) I am a leader. I created the Mental Health Court in 2004, and have presided over it ever since. That program has been replicated throughout the state of Idaho. I speak at least once a month to public service groups, associations, and businesses, about issues facing the criminal justice system, such as: addiction, mental health, trauma, smart sentencing, criminal justice reform.

2. We need a Veteran’s Court. Problem-solving courts such as Mental Health Court and Drug Court work, they change people’s dysfunctional behaviors, and they are very cost effective as opposed to prison. We have needed a Veteran’s Court for quite some time. I’d like to see a juvenile mental health court. It would be best practice to have a dedicated juvenile judge (as opposed to rotating a different magistrate each week for that caseload).

3. Getting the facts right, applying the law correctly to those facts.

4. Judges don’t have to get involved in trying to change behaviors, judges can simply pronounce a sentence, walk away and hope for the best. But judges are in a great position to foster and create change in the lives of addicts, but doing so takes more work. It takes presiding over a problem-solving court. It takes periodic probation reviews to hold the person accountable. It takes putting people on probation and actually monitoring that probation.

5. Over the past 16 years I have demonstrated my consistent leadership as a judge, my consistent effort over and above what is expected, and I have demonstrated my commitment to this area where I have spent my entire life.

Douglas Pierce, ESQ.

Douglas Pierce.

1. I have been a trial lawyer for 16 years and served as the Whitman County District Court commissioner (an appointed judicial position) early on in my legal career.  I have represented clients and won trials in both the civil and criminal arenas.  My experience in both areas of litigation has given me a well-rounded perspective that I will carry to the bench.  Also, I am confident that I would bring fairness and stability to the position.

2. Overall, five of the six Judges in the First District are outstanding jurists. I am running for the position that I feel is necessary to replace in order to put the First District Court in a more positive direction.

3. The law, which is comprised of the Constitutions, the Statutes and the Court Rules. Next would be the facts specific to the matter.

4. Drug addiction, currently the opioid crisis, and continued traumatic events.

5. I will start with the law.  I will do my very best to treat the people who appear in front of me with fairness and respect, deserving to all.

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