Veteran Second District Judge John Stegner of Moscow has been appointed to fill the Idaho Supreme Court vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Warren Jones.
Stegner was one of four finalists nominated for the position by the Idaho Judicial Council, and his appointment was announced May 22 by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.
Stegner is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law and has been a district judge based in Moscow since 1997, after being appointed by then-Governor Phil Batt in November 1996. He previously was in private legal practice with the Lewiston firm Clements, Brown & McNichols, P.A., for 12 years; clerked for the late U.S. District Judge Harold Ryan for two years; and worked periodically for the family business, Stegner Grain & Seed Co., throughout the Palouse for several years. He also managed Governor Otter’s first statewide campaign in 1978.
The governor’s office said in a prepared statement that Stegner was instrumental in starting the Latah County Drug Court in January 2002 “because I was frustrated with the lack of options available to me as a sentencing judge when dealing with individuals addicted to controlled substances.” In addition, he has presided over the Latah County Mental Health Court since starting it in July 2012 “because I was also frustrated by the way the mentally ill were dealt with in the criminal justice system.”
As a district judge, Stegner received the Idaho State Bar Distinguished Jurist Award in 2017, the Sheldon A. Vincenti Award for exemplary service to the University of Idaho law school in 2014, and the George G. Granata Jr. Award from the Idaho Judiciary for demonstrated professionalism in 2012, Otter’s office said.
“Judge Stegner’s record alone speaks volumes about his commitment to the law, his community and our state,” Governor Otter said. “He understands and has the professional acumen and civic virtue to address the underlying issues impacting Idaho’s courts. Justice Stegner will be a great addition to Idaho’s appellate bench.”