Idaho State Court System

  • Magistrate Divisions: Magistrate divisions have general jurisdiction for civil actions with an amount in controversy under $10,000.
  • District Courts: The District Court has original jurisdiction over civil cases. This court also hears appeals from the magistrate divisions and small claims court.
  • Court of Appeals: The Court of Appeals is Idaho’s intermediate appellate court. It hears cases appealed from the district courts, as assigned by the Supreme Court.
  • Idaho Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is Idaho’s court of last resort and has discretionary appellate jurisdiction over Court of Appeals cases. It also has original jurisdiction for advisory opinions in claims against the state.

*Some of the above courts in the Idaho State Court System also have jurisdiction over other proceedings which are not covered here.

Pleadings

In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 20 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.

Discovery

After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:

  • Written Discovery is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:

    • Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
    • Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
  • Depositions – In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.

Settlement Negotiations

At all times throughout the claims process, the parties can agree to settle the dispute by reaching an amicable solution for both parties. 95% of all personal injury claims or lawsuits are resolved by way of settlement prior to trial.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Before the lawsuit goes to trial, the parties may elect to schedule a mediation or arbitration to resolve the matter. Mediation is an informal way to resolve a dispute, using a neutral third-party to help the parties reach a mutually agreed upon solution. Arbitration may be more formal, and usually involves both parties presenting their case to the arbitrator, and depending on the arbitration, it may be non-binding or binding.

Trial

If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.

Motions and Appeals

After a final ruling is provided from the Court, parties may appeal the verdict. The notice of appeal must be filed with the clerk of the trial court within 42 days of the date of the entry of the judgment.

Recovery

Judgments obtained in Idaho are valid for 5 years and may be renewed.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Idaho. Should you have a question/concern specific to Idaho law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Idaho.