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Idaho Supreme Court Justice John Stegner will retire

Stegner will retire in October and practice as a private attorney. He cited low pay as one of the reasons for his decision.

IDAHO, USA — Justice John Stegner, who has been on the Idaho Supreme Court since 2018, is retiring on Oct. 31, 2023. In a press release, it stated that Stegner will eventually return to private practice. He cited low pay and long hours as a reason for retirement. He was the 57th Justice of the Supreme Court. 

"In a letter Monday to Gov. Brad Little, Justice Stegner called retirement a "bittersweet decision" prompted by financial considerations and disparities in pay between judges and many attorneys. "The job requires extraordinary hours to do it well," Justice Stegner wrote. "In sum, the state is asking judges to do too much for too little." the release stated.

Stegner served as a judge in Idaho since 1997. He was born in Grangeville and went to the University of Idaho. The release states that at one-point Stegner wanted a career in education but became interested in law, "the justice grew up in a family attuned to civics and at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court decided issues such as the principle of one person, one vote."

"As Justice Stegner leaves the bench, he said he's concerned by society questioning the legitimacy of America's courts in a way he has never seen. He compared the U.S. system to countries whose court systems don't have the independence to enforce public rights. "If we lose the independence of the judiciary, it's a loss we will never be able to overcome," he said. He complemented his "wonderful, diligent, hardworking" colleagues on the Supreme Court and shared lessons learned during his career: Don't stoop to match others' contentious behavior and when entering the courtroom, check your ego at the door," the release stated.

Chief Justice G. Richard Bevan said that Stegner brought a principled and deliberate approach to the Idaho Court's.

"His drive to better ourselves and our work has improved justice for Idahoans. We wish him the best as he prepares for retirement," Bevan said.

Governor Brad Little will appoint a judge to serve the rest of Stegner's term, ending in January 2027. The governor will choose from a list of people given by the Idaho Judicial Council, following that, a nonpartisan election will be in May 2026 for the next term. 

Idaho Supreme Court terms are six-years-long. The court is comprised of four associate judges and a chief justice. 

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