Thursday, February 26, 2015

$394K Judgment Against Body Renew Fitness, Owner

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 9:52 AM

In July 2014, officials with Body Renew Fitness said they had "a business that's bleeding," triggering their filing for bankruptcy and padlocking the doors of their five Treasure Valley facilities. Three months later, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the company and its owner Dakota Routh. The AG's office registered 54 consumer complaints against the company. The suit alleged that Routh closed his business after charging consumers for memberships, training, tanning and other fees, but didn't refund any monies.

And this morning, Wasden announced that a $394,900 judgement has been entered against the company. The judgment includes $13,900 in restitution for 70 consumers and prohibits Body Renew Fitness or Routh from attempting to collect on the debts of four other consumers. The remainder of the judgement includes $375,000 in civil penalties and $6,000 to reimburse the state for the cost of the suit. Routh is also prohibited from operating an Idaho fitness facility in the future.

“A business with prepaid membership accounts cannot simply shut its door and ignore its debts,” Wasden said. “There is a right way to go out of business and a wrong way. Leaving a note on the door and skipping town with customers’ money is not the right way.”

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Idaho Collects $21.5M in Standard & Poor's Settlement

Posted By on Tue, Feb 3, 2015 at 10:20 AM

As part of a landmark multi-state settlement where federal prosecutors said Standard & Poor's Financial Services had inflated its ratings of mortgage-backed securities at the height of the great recession, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced this morning that Idaho will collect $21.5 million. S&P's total settlement of $1.38 billion is expected to wipe out its operating profit for about one year.

Wasden had filed Idaho's complaint against S&P, the world's largest credit rating firm, in 2013 after federal prosecutors said the firm had engaged in misleading, false and deceptive practices, starting in 2001 and continuing until 2011.

“For years, S&P made statements emphasizing the independence and objectivity of its rating services,” said Wasden in today's announcement. “These statements were made to investors, regulators, Congress and the public. My lawsuit alleged that these statements were not true.”

However, today's settlement, which is still subject to court approval, included no findings that the company had violated the law.

"I think it is a classic example of a regulatory slap on the wrist," securities lawyer Andrew Stoltmann told USA Today. "The fine was not punitive enough to deter this sort of conduct in the future."
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Video: Eastern Idaho Prosecutor Targeted in Recall Petition

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 10:57 AM

An eastern Idaho prosecutor is under fire after citizens turned in a recall petition, calling for his ouster, with more than 3,500 signatures.

KIDK-TV is reporting that a Jefferson County group wants longtime prosecuting attorney Robin Dunn out of office. Among other things, the group points to Goody's personal law firm that charged the county $18,000 to represent the county in a federal case.

"Over the last few years, he has misused his authority, power and his budget to the detriment of the country," said Shelly Alldred who worked with Dunn for 15 years but signed the recall petition.

The Jefferson County Clerk's Office is currently verifying the signatures to make certain that there are enough—2,824 were required—to trigger a recall election.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bar Association May Have Accreditation Decision for Concordia in June

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 4:00 PM

  • Kelsey Hawes

While third-year Concordia University Law School students braced themselves for their final stretches of law school this year, the Portland, Ore.-based university was working with the American Bar Association on earning provisional accreditation.

The stakes were high: In order to take the bar exam, would-be lawyers must have a diploma from an accredited law school. If Concordia students graduated from the university's Boise law school prior to it receiving ABA accreditation, those students would be barred from taking the bar.

Concordia announced Nov. 26 that it is one step closer to receiving accreditation. The ABA's Council on Legal Education is set to consider the school's application during its meeting Friday-Sunday, June 5-7, 2015 and could share its decision to accredit or not accredit the law school the week of Monday, June 8.

According to a press release, the university is working with its students to pace their degree completion plans in light of this new information.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Video: Public Defenders, ACLU Decry Idaho's 'Thin' Support For Public Defenders

Posted By and on Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Idaho's public defenders say Idaho's low level of funding for public defense is a breach of the U.S. Constitution. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Idaho's public defenders say Idaho's low level of funding for public defense is a breach of the U.S. Constitution.

At a gathering on the Capitol steps marking the 51st anniversary of the Gideon v. Wainwright Supreme Court decision that secured defendants the right to competent and vigorous legal defense, the ACLU and a group of public defenders lambasted the state of Idaho's public defense system. 

"The Sixth Amendment doesn't get respect here," said Kootenai County Public Defender John Adams. 

ACLU Idaho Executive Director Monica Hopkins contrasted Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter's statement in support of the Second Amendment—the right to bear arms—upon signing the so-called Guns on Campus bill into law with the legislature's thin financial support of public defenders who protect the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution, which details rights related to criminal prosecutions. According to Hopkins and a number of public defenders who spoke at the gathering, growing caseloads, scant funding and a paucity of public defenders have added up to a public defense crisis.

"It is really interesting that the governor counts the Second Amendment, but you don't have to uphold the Sixth Amendment. He continues to be silent on this issue," she said.

In contrast to high-profile crimes and press-friendly courtroom battles, Adams said public defenders' efforts on small cases like theft, DUIs and domestic assaults are where the Constitutional guarantee to a fair and speedy trial are enforced.

"This is important to our communities. These small cases are what affect the quality of our lives," he said.

Public defenders are charged with mounting defenses for defendants who cannot pay for their own legal counsel, and their clients can be individuals whose trials in the court of public opinion ended long before their counterparts in the courtroom. Stacy Depew, a contract public defender in Jerome County, said she has a ready answer when people ask her why she does what she does.

"Why am I a public defender? Because every single person deserves a vigorous defender. I don't do it for the money; I don't do it for the fame. Even those people charged with heinous crimes are more than what they are on paper," she said.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Boise Street Law Clinic Expands Again

Posted By on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 10:32 AM


Due to growing demand, the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association's Street Law Clinic is expanding for the second time in less than a year.

Launched in February 2013, the free clinics quickly became so successful that a second session was added in October—this one geared specifically toward family law issues.

Now, in a move to further increase the number of people it can reach, the Street Law Clinic is joining forces with the University of Idaho College of Law Tax Clinic, in order to offer yet another area of focus: IRS Controversy Assistance.

“We are super excited to have them be part of this,” said Quinn Perry, coordinator of the Street Law Clinics. “There is a real barrier to access to justice for Idahoans, so any addition we can make to the clinic that gives people access to the help they need makes us happy.”

The University of Idaho College of Tax Law Clinic has been operating in Boise for more than four years, but joining forces with the Street Law Clinic will allow for expanded outreach.

According to Barb Lock, an attorney and professor at the University of Idaho College of Law, recent government cutbacks have resulted in “people just not getting the same level of attention they may have gotten before.”

And while tax audits might be funny in a comic strip, they are no laughing matter for those lacking resources to retain legal counsel.

“The majority of people come to us after the fact,” said Lock. “The IRS audit has already been completed and then they receive a Notice of Deficiency letter, telling them exactly how much they owe. At that point, the choice is either to pay or to petition the tax court.”

Deciding on possible next steps is where the Street Law Clinic can help. Whether it’s filling out a court form or explaining what happens next in the process, the clinic provides answers for those navigating an increasingly complex legal system.

“For the most part, the people who attend our clinics are pretty stressed out,” said Perry. “They just want to be heard—to be validated—and when they finally have a chance to sit down with somebody and tell their story, they feel so relieved.”

Held every second Monday at the downtown branch of the Boise Public Library, the Street Law Clinic answers questions on a broad range of topics, including landlord/tenant disputes, Social Security disability and the newly added IRS Controversy Assistance.

The Family Law Clinic, held every fourth Monday at the same location, is geared toward questions related to divorce, child custody, and support modifications.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Street Law Clinic Expands, Adds Second Session for Family Law

Posted By on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 10:12 AM


After successfully launching the city's first-ever Street Law Clinic at the Boise Main Public Library in February, the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association has decided to add a second clinic each month, beginning Monday, Oct. 28.

The second edition will be called the ITLA Family Law Clinic, to assist individuals with issues ranging from child custody modifications to protection orders. The clinic will include ITLA members, family law practitioners, and representatives from the Idaho Volunteer Lawyer Program, Concordia University School of law, the University of Idaho College of Law and the Boise Public Library.

"We strive to open the doors to affordable legal advice and resources to those who have previously been denied access," said Sheli Fulcher Koontz, an ITLA member. "The clinics make this mission applicable to everyone, regardless of socio-economic status."

Although the clinics run on a first come, first served basis, they have successfully served over 100 people since launching the service in February.

Citizens interested in the services provided by the clinics can call the ITLA at 208-345-1890 or visit

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Boise Attorney Appointed to New Idaho Judgeship

Posted By on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Steven Hippler, 47, was appointed to a new judgeship in Idahos Fourth Judicial District.
  • Steven Hippler, 47, was appointed to a new judgeship in Idaho's Fourth Judicial District.

A Boise attorney has been appointed to a new judgeship in Idaho's Fourth Judicial District.

47-year-old Steven Hippler, a partner in the Givens Pursley LLC law firm, was appointed to the bench today by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. Hippler was among four candidates submitted to Otter by the Idaho Judicial Council. The new judgeship was created by the 2013 Idaho Legislature.

Hippler is a graduate of Bishop Kelly High School, Boise State University and received his law degree from the University of Utah. He has been a partner at Givens Pursley since 2002.

Hippler has served as health-care counsel for hospitals, several medical specialty groups and billing, coding and practice management companies. In particular, Hippler has defended numerous medical liability and malpractice claims. While working primarily with Idaho clients, Hippler has also represented several clients in Oregon and Washington.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Idaho State Bar's Citizen Law Academy Launches 13th Year

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 11:38 AM

After watching TV courtroom dramas, one could be forgiven for believing that legal cases are filled with twists and turns, culminating in a melodramatic courtroom showdown. Yet out of the millions of legal trials performed every year in the U.S., the vast majority are rather uneventful civil cases which offer no surprise witnesses and aren’t concluded at the last minute by a passionate summation by a hot-shot attorney.

Idaho's Citizen’s Law Academy, run by the Idaho State Bar, aims to dispel some of the myths and educate Idaho residents on the reality of the legal system.

“There are lots of legal shows on TV, but that’s not how it works,” Carey Shoufler, Education Director for the Idaho Law Foundation told Boise Weekly

The Academy began in 2000, after a number of Idaho attorneys belonging to the State Bar's Public Information Committee launched a free program to educate citizens on the true nature of the legal system. Modelled after the Citizen’s Police Academy, the CLA quickly evolved into its current form—a 12 week course covering a range of topics, from basic information about judges, juries and justice, to examining the difference between fiction and reality in both criminal and civil trials.

“It’s not meant to be for working out any specific legal issues,” said Shoufler, though she also highlighted that knowledge may aid their future engagement with the law, adding that, “If [citizens] are more educated on how the system works it lets them make better choices.”

The academy accepts around 30-35 people. The current syllabus includes lectures on the Constitution and the rule of law, the use of technology in today’s trials, the emergency of environmental law and an anatomy of a jury deliberation, along with other lectures aimed at broad knowledge of topics such as legislative process and family law.

Shoufler said the CLA has been hugely successful, with over 1,000 citizens participating since its inception. Though no official qualification or certification is achieved, the course opens up avenues for those interested in getting more involved with the law. Several CLA alumni have gone on to become part of the State Bar’s Public Information Committee, even helping to host some of the classes for the academy, while several other graduates have also gone on to other community Bar organizations.

“All of our committees have at least one non-attorney,” advised Shoufler, “and our [attorneys] are dedicated and committed to the communities.”

This year's course is free to the public, and is still accepting applications up to Friday, Aug. 23. Classes begin Tuesday, Sept. 10, and run through to mid-November. You can learn more at

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Advocates Trumpet Gideon's Urgency at City Club of Boise

Posted By on Sat, Mar 30, 2013 at 11:27 AM

In 1961, Clarence Gideon asked for a lawyer but a judge refused, telling Gideon he had to pay for counsel.
  • In 1961, Clarence Gideon asked for a lawyer but a judge refused, telling Gideon he had to pay for counsel.

The opening of Law and Order—which aired on NBC for many years—featured some of the most familiar lines in network television history:

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.

"What? That's not true. How about the defense?" asked Dawn Porter at Friday afternoon's City Club of Boise event at the Grove Hotel. "It's a TV thing, but it's a big thing when you think of how many people get their information from TV."

Porter knows a thing or two about TV, having worked for both the ABC and A&E networks. Porter is also a former attorney and a current filmmaker. She was in Boise to talk about her most recent effort, Gideon's Army, a documentary that will air later this year on HBO and had a big-screen showcase Friday evening at Boise's Egyptian Theatre.

Porter was joined by Sara Thomas, director of the Idaho State Appellate Defender's Office, to talk about one of the most basic freedoms of all Americans: the right to an appropriate defense. The conversation was in sync with 2013 being the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that guarantees a free public defense for members of the public who can't afford an attorney.

Boise Weekly recently chronicled the Gideon case [BW, News, "And Justice For All?" March 20, 2013] and reported that Idaho was rife with inconsistency, at best, and probable civil-liberties violations, at worst, in complying with the constitutional requirement.

Thomas told Friday's gathering that there was a dramatic lack of uniformity among Idaho's counties in determining who should be granted counsel.

"Even definining 'indigency' is inconsistent among our judges," said Thomas. "The caseload standards among public defenders is wildly different. And huge caseloads are, in some case, preventing proper investigations for the defense."

Porter said it took her three-and-a-half years to film Gideon's Army. In one of the film's scenes, a young attorney stretches his arms out in his office, pointing to a handful of framed documents hung up on the wall. Each of the documents represents a "not guilty" verdict handed down for one of his indigent clients.

"My goal is to fill this wall up," he says. "My other goal is to have the names of people who have been found guilty to be tattooed on my back."

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