Idaho panel accepting applications for new State Public Defender position

Tuesday July 18, 2023

Boise, Idaho – A panel established to recommend names for Governor Brad Little’s appointment of the State Public Defender is accepting applications for the new position.

The new State Public Defender position is the result of property tax relief legislation the Governor signed in 2022. Governor Little signed House Bill 735a in 2022, providing immediate and ongoing property tax to all Idahoans by reducing county property taxes by the annual amount counties spent on public defense and transferring the ongoing cost of providing indigent public defense to the state.

“As I’ve said before, when we invest in critical needs at the state level, we’re providing property tax relief at the local level. Our investments in public defense are not only strengthening this important function of our justice system that upholds our Constitutional rights, but we are also relieving local property taxpayers of the burden by covering public defense costs,” Governor Little said.

To carry out the transition from a county system to a state system of public defense begun by the 2022 property tax bill, the Legislature enacted House Bill 236 this year, creating the Office of the State Public Defender.

Consistent with the bill, Governor Little formed the State Public Defender Nominating Panel. Members of the nominating panel are:

Judicial District 1: Tara Malek, attorney in Coeur d’Alene

Judicial District 2: Greg Johnson, Lewis County Commissioner

Judicial District 3: Mistie Bauscher, attorney in Caldwell

Judicial District 4: John Evans, Mayor of Garden City

Judicial District 5: Muffy Davis, Blaine County Commissioner

Judicial District 6: Matthew Hunter, resident of Pocatello

Judicial District 7: Trent Belnap, attorney in Idaho Falls

Governor Little selected Mayor Evans to serve as chairman of the panel.

The job vacancy listing and application instructions for the State Public Defender are posted at this link:

Eligible attorney applicants can begin applying immediately.

After the application period closes, the panel will conduct interviews with qualified attorneys and submit to the Governor a list of three to five names from which the Governor will appoint the State Public Defender.

By law, the State Public Defender must have held a license to practice law or judicial office in one or more jurisdictions of the United States for at least five continuous years immediately preceding appointment and be or become an active member of the Idaho State Bar within one year of appointment. The State Public Defender also must have at least five years of criminal defense experience.

The candidate must be available to take office by or soon after the end of August. The position requires confirmation by the Idaho Senate in the next legislative session. The term of office is four years and is eligible for reappointment.

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