Being a District Judge in Idaho is largely a thankless job. The state has only two judgeships, and the judges handle a large caseload. Nonetheless, Idaho’s senators have reached a compromise candidate with the White House willing to accept the spot: Judge Amanda Brailsford.
A native Idahoan, Brailsford grew up in Hagerman in Southern Idaho. She received a B.A. from the University of Idaho in 1989 and a J.D. from the University of Idaho School of Law in 1993. Brailsford then clerked for Judge Thomas Nelson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
After her clerkship, Brailsford joined the Boise office of Holland & Hart LLP, as an associate. She was promoted to a partner there eight years later. Brailsford then founded Andersen Banducci PLLC in 2013.
In 2018, Brailsford applied for a seat on the Idaho Supreme Court but was appointed by Republican Governor Butch Otter to a judgeship on Idaho’s Court of Appeals. See In a First, More Women than Men Apply to Idaho High Court, A.P. State & Local Wire, July 31, 2018.
History of the Seat
The District of Idaho, which covers the entire state, has only two authorized active judgeships. Brailsford has been nominated, upon the recommendation of Idaho Senators Michael Crapo and James Risch, to replace Judge B. Lynn Winmill, who took senior status on August 16, 2021. If confirmed, Brailsford would be the first woman on the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho.
For approximately twenty-five years before she became a judge, Brailsford worked as a civil litigator. During this time, she argued a number of cases before the Idaho Supreme Court. See, e.g., Spur Prods. Corp. v. Stoel Rives LLP, 122 P.3d 300 (Idaho 2005). For example, Brailsford represented Dr. Mark Miller, a doctor who was sued for violating the non-compete provision of his contract with his prior employer. See Intermountain Eye Laser Ctrs., PLLC v. Miller, 127 P.3d 121 (Idaho 2005). After a lower court granted summary judgment to Dr. Miller, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed. See id. at 133.
Since her appointment in 2019, Brailsford has served on the Idaho Court of Appeals, which serves as an intermediate appellate court.
In her time on the court, Brailsford has written opinions in both criminal and civil cases. For example, Brailsford wrote for the court in affirming Cyrus Buehler’s aggravated DUI conviction. She also wrote for the court in affirming the denial of postconviction relief for Thomas Chaput, finding that he had failed to preserve his challenge.
On the civil side, Brailsford affirmed the denial of a concealed weapon license to Darrell Gunderson. Among other arguments, Brailsford rejected the challenge that the law barring his license violated the provision against ex post facto laws, or criminal laws having retroactive effect. Brailsford found that the firearms provision, even though it bars based on criminal conviction, is a regulatory measure and not intended to “punish” criminal conduct. As such, Brailsford ruled that the law was unlawful.
Nominated by a Democratic president with support from her Republican senators, Brailsford is expected to sail to confirmation. She should also be helped along the way by her relatively non-political background and the lack of major controversies in her time on the bench.