Lewis County Courthouse photo

Lewis County Courthouse.

Court monetary assessments in 2020 raked in a quarter-million dollars last year for Lewis County, a year which also saw an 18 percent increase in case filings across the board from infractions to felonies.

Data comes from the annual Idaho Supreme Court report, generated for the state legislature, which also includes a recap of the previous year, highlights of significant programs and projects, and information on Judicial Branch budget requests for the coming fiscal year. This is available for public view online at annualreport.isc.idaho.gov. While court filings were up for Lewis County last year, court cases here and statewide were nonexistent in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Late last year, the Idaho Supreme Court (ISC) ordered a halt to jury trials due to virus concerns. However, as viral cases have decreased to meet the court’s incidence rate standards for reopening, it ordered both criminal and civil jury trials could resume as of March 1, as long as courts follow certain conditions outlined in current and former orders.

As per the ISC, the courts will prioritize jury trials for criminal cases, starting with those in which a defendant is incarcerated. Civil jury trials will be prioritized after those. Overall for fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020), 221,000 criminal cases were filed statewide, according to the report. Of this, 13,737 were from District 2 (Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties), 1,961 from Idaho County and 516 from Lewis County.

In Lewis County last year, criminal filings were up from 2019 by 18 percent for a total 516. Of those 2020 filings, 402 were infractions (up 19 percent), 93 misdemeanors (5.7 percent) and 21 felonies (up 62 percent). Last year, 1,961 filings were made in Idaho County, this was down 25 percent (from 2,605) made in 2019. Of those 2020 filings, 1,255 were infractions (down 27 percent), 621 were misdemeanors (down 21 percent), and 85 were felonies (down 7.6 percent).

Within the past five fiscal years, 2020 was the low for overall filings in Idaho County, with the high, 3,660, reported in 2016, which saw 66 felonies, 839 misdemeanors and 2,755 infractions. For Lewis County, 2020 was the third highest in the past five years, with 2019 being the high at 439, which saw 13 felonies, 88 misdemeanors and 338 infractions.