BOISE – One of the Magic Valley’s connections to the Idaho Supreme Court will soon be gone.
Judge Roger Burdick is due to leave the court on June 30th after a 47-year career that has touched almost every part of the court system.
Burdick has served as defense attorney, prosecutor, judge, district judge, and eventually ran the state’s highest court as chief judge.
He began his legal career in 1974 when he received his law doctorate from the University of Idaho School of Law. He served as an attorney in Twin Falls, as an assistant district attorney in Ada County, and then as a public defender for Counties Camas, Lincoln, Jerome, and Gooding. In November 1980 he was elected district attorney for Jerome County. Almost a year later he was appointed judge for the same county.
“I thought being a prosecutor and a public defense attorney was really an excellent career path to understanding both sides of criminal law and I think that influenced me as I went on,” he said in a statement.
Burdick was named a District Judge in Twin Falls County in 1993 and was known for volunteering on challenging or sensitive cases. In 2001 he was appointed chairman of the Snake River Basin Adjudication and became the county judge for the Fifth Judicial District.
Governor Dirk Kempthorne named Burdick 53rd Supreme Court Justice in Idaho in August 2003. Burdick won re-election in 2004, 2010 and 2016; His current term of office would have lasted until January 2023. He recently completed his second term as Chief Justice, as elected by his peers, and is currently the Assistant Chief Justice of the Five-Member Court.
Throughout his career, Burdick was known for his focus on transforming the quality of the judicial system for the benefit of the people of Idaho. It was very important to him to attract highly qualified candidates for judges’ positions and to expand further training for judges. He also worked to improve the administration and management of the courts and drive change through leadership roles at the Idaho Magistrate Judges Association, the Idaho District Judges Association, the Idaho Judicial Council, and ultimately the Idaho Supreme Court.
As a judge, he became the first member of the Idaho Judiciary Council and increased representation of his colleagues in the Idaho judicial administration, a notable part of the development of the Magistrate Department that is now celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Burdick placed great emphasis on assuming the administrative role of the Supreme Court in Idaho’s unified judicial system – growing treatment courts, improved supervision of guardianship, enhancement of the juvenile justice system, and advocacy of the resources to achieve these goals. He oversaw the adoption of new Rules of Procedure and proposed a successful revision of the Idaho Code of Conduct.
Across the breadth of his service, Burdick said he was impressed with the dedication and professionalism of the judges, attorneys and clerks in Idaho. He thanked everyone he has worked with throughout his career and his family for their support since his earliest years in Jerome.
“I don’t think people understand how lucky we are in Idaho,” he said. “You can’t get anywhere without the support of the people around you and that’s why you treat them like gold every day.”
“Throughout his career, Justice Burdick has shown that civil service is a calling, not just a job,” said Chief Justice G. Richard Bevan. “His continued pursuit of improvement and excellence in all areas has benefited the Idahoans and we will miss his presence on the Supreme Court.”
Upon retirement, Burdick will apply to serve as head judge and will regularly handle cases to ease the workload across the judiciary. Judge Robyn Brody becomes vice chief of the Idaho Supreme Court.
In accordance with the medium-term vacancy process, a new judiciary will be appointed by the governor to replace Burdick from a list of two to four names provided by the Idaho Judicial Council. This judiciary will serve for the remainder of the unexpired term ending January 2023. An impartial election to elect a judiciary for the next six-year term will take place in May 2022.