Linda Copple Trout (1952-)
Linda Copple Trout became a pioneer for women when she became the first female in Idaho to serve as a Supreme Court Judge. Her road to the bench began at the University of Idaho where she received her Bachelors of Arts degree in 1973. During her time there she took an active interest in law and soon went on to The University of Idaho College of Law, where she received her Jurist Doctorate Degree in 1977. Later, in 1979, she received an honorary Doctor of Law from Albertson College of Idaho.
After her graduation, Trout worked for the law firm Blake, Feeny, and Clark for six years. In 1983, her career changed when she was appointed as a Magistrate Judge. In addition to this position, Trout took on the position of Acting Trail Administrator for five Idaho Counties, a position she would hold from 1987 to 1991. Again having her professional positions overlap, Trout was elected as a District Judge in 1991 and would regularly hear cases in Nez Pearce and Clearwater Counties.
In 1992 Trout marked a major milestone for women in Idaho when she was appointed the first woman justice on the Idaho Supreme Court by Governor Cecil Andrus. On February 1, 1997, Trout was elected by the Idaho Supreme Court as Chief Justice, a position she would hold until September 1, 2004. In the 2002 and 2004 elections for Supreme Court Justice, Trout won reelection by a large margin. During the 2004 election, Trout endured a dirty campaign that began to ruin politics for her. She surprised many people by stepping down from her position in 2007. As a result of her experiences she recommended changing the way judges were elected in Idaho in a way that would protect the people’s right to a free and fair election while allowing judges to remain impartial in their rulings during their campaigns.
When asked about her judicial accomplishment, Trout responded by saying, "It was an honor to be on the Supreme Court – that's how I looked at it. Not that being the first female justice wasn't a part of it –yes, I was blazing new ground – but I was just honored to be on the court." She added that she felt some additional "scrutiny" because of her gender but reflects "…I guess that I felt in my own mind that I would analyze the law like anybody else and work hard from that standpoint [then] there probably wouldn't be much difference." She hoped that her hard work has laid to rest any doubts about whether or not women can serve successfully on the high court.
Despite her retirement from the Supreme Court, Trout continues to serve as a judge in Idaho. She has agreed to serve as a senior judge as well as a court-appointed mediator and volunteer spokeswoman for the court. She is also applying for a seat on the federal magistrate bench.
Along with her judicial work, Trout is also a member of the Idaho State Bar Association, and the American Inns of Court. Her humanitarian work includes serving on the Board of Directors of the Lewiston City Library, the Northwest Children's home, and Lewiston YWCA. From 2001-2007 she served on the Judicial Conference Committee on Federal and State Jurisdiction after being appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.
Image credit: Idaho State Judiciary.