Since late summer, the Teton County Democratic Party has been asking if the county's assistant attorney, Bailey Smith, who is now running for the county prosecutor's office, mistaken her title because she was only admitted to the Idaho bar in September, but the county was discontinued in July.
A New York licensed attorney, Smith filed her application for the Idaho State Bar when she was hired for Teton County. A mutual lawyer license requires the gathering and transfer of records between states, which in Smith's case meant between New York and Idaho during the coronavirus pandemic.
Smith was admitted to the bar on September 16. She appears in the system under her married surname.
Under Idaho state law, the assistant prosecutor must have the same qualifications as the prosecutor, including an Idaho license. Under the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct, the text that governs Idaho attorneys and passed by the Idaho Supreme Court in lieu of Idaho State legislation, an attorney licensed in another state may, under the supervision of an attorney from Idaho work.
“An attorney licensed in any other jurisdiction, but not this jurisdiction, is not engaging in unauthorized legal practice in that jurisdiction if the attorney is associated with a licensed attorney in that jurisdiction who actively participates in the jurisdiction of the matter “Reads the text.
Brad Andrews, the general counsel of the Idaho State Bar, told the Teton Valley News that unless he investigated the matter himself, he had no way of knowing if the prosecution had malfunctioned. That would only happen if someone filed a formal complaint with the bar, which didn't happen. He said the decision would depend on whether the attorney in question actually practiced as a lawyer without authorization.
Smith and her manager, District Attorney Billie Siddoway, have told TVN that they cannot comment on the matter as it would constitute "an improper legal opinion" if the county were to enter into a legal dispute on the matter.
Local Democratic Party officials as well as Smith's campaign manager have accused TVN of prejudice about reporting based on letters posted on the opinion page. The TVN acknowledges that this is a contentious issue with conflicting explanations from the law and appreciates the concern of the community, but the paper will not take it any further unless actual litigation arises.