Idaho Supreme Court

A committee of Idaho lawmakers has begun the complicated task of trying to bring the state's public defense system in line with constitutional requirements.

Members of the Public Defense Interim Committee met in Boise on Thursday to hear from state and national experts who warned that Idaho's system is so inadequate that it's likely unconstitutional, and as a result, it's only a matter of time until a lawsuit forces the state to make major changes.

cigarette, tobacco
SuperFantastic / Flickr Creative Commons

State Supreme Court justices bolstered Idaho's power to regulate cigarettes shipped to Indian-owned businesses in a ruling that touched not only on Native American sovereignty but also public health.

Justices wrote Thursday that Idaho could prevent Canadian-made cigarettes — ones that hadn't been taxed in the U.S. to help cover tobacco-related illness costs — from being shipped to a Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation-based retailer.

Idaho Statesman

Sunday we learned that former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Byron Johnson passed away after a battle with cancer.

He was a lawyer and a political mover and shaker.  But in his heart, Byron Johnson was a poet.  “I think that poetry is a vehicle that I have used to deal with feelings I have that are hard to resolve,” he once said.

The Idaho Supreme Court is considering whether Native America[n] retailers that sell cigarettes to other Native American retailers must obtain Idaho state tax stamps.

Samantha Wright/BSPR / Boise State Public Radio

He's been a lawyer, a political mover and shaker, and a former Idaho Supreme Court Justice.  But at heart, Byron Johnson has always been a poet.  Now that he's retired, Johnson has devoted much of his time to writing poetry and his memoir. That book "Poetic Justice" is now out. It's pages are filled with his early childhood, court cases and yes, poems. Byron Johnson - who has battled Parkinson’s disease and cancer - told Samantha Wright that poetry has always had a place in his life: