Republican Senator Denton Darrington of Declo, the longest-serving senator in Idaho history, was surprised to learn this week that a lecture series has been established in his name.
"I was just blown away," Darrington said Friday of the creation of "The Denton Darrington Annual Lecture on Law and Government."
The honor was announced Monday by Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick at the annual meeting of Idaho's judges at the Riverside Hotel in Garden City. Darrington also received a video tribute featuring many of the six governors and six chief justices he served with, including Govs. Butch Otter, Dirk Kempthorne and Cecil Andrus.
"It was just over the top," Darrington said. "I don't know if anyone's worth all the accolades I got."
Darrington, 72, will sit on the committee that will plan and design the lecture series, along with Burdick, University of Idaho Law School Dean Don Burnett and Reed Larsen, a former Idaho State Bar president. The lecture will be sponsored by the court, bar and law school.
The date and topic of the inaugural lecture have not been set, but it will be held in the Idaho Supreme Court's courtroom in Boise and web-streamed on Idaho Public TV's website.
Darrington said he is pleased to have the University of Idaho involved given its success with the annual Sherman J. Bellwood Lecture at the College of Law, which has attracted U.S. Supreme Court justices and other legal luminaries. Bellwood was an Idaho judge who endowed the series.
Darrington was chairman of the Judiciary Committee for 23 years and left a lasting mark on justice in Idaho. He played a major role creating the Department of Juvenile Corrections, the State Appellate Public Defenders Office, an independent Parole Commission and sentencing reform, including mandatory minimum sentences that have helped boost Idaho's incarceration rate.
He was a national leader in rewriting the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, which allows parolees to leave the states where they are completing their non-custodial sentences.
Finally, Darrington is widely credited for helping improve what was was sometimes a chilly relationship between the judiciary and Legislature. "That's brought great dividends for both branches," Darrington said.
Darrington taught American and Idaho history at Burley Junior High for 33 years, before retiring in 1999.
A Friday news release on the lecture series follows:
Lecture Series Created to Commemorate Career of Idaho’s Longest Serving State Senator Denton Darrington
(Boise) – During his 30-year career in the Idaho State Senate Delco Republican Denton Darrington became the state legislature’s “go too” expert on the judicial branch of state government. Darrington, who will retire later this year, served many of his three decades in the Idaho Legislature as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee where he had a major hand in virtually every piece of legislation dealing with the judiciary.
Now in order to commemorate Darrington’s distinguished career as a leader in keeping Idaho at the forefront of judicial administration, the University of Idaho College of Law, the Idaho State Bar and Law Foundation, and the Idaho Supreme Court have created The Denton Darrington Annual Lecture on Law and Government.
The first Darrington Lecture will be hosted during 2013 by the Idaho Supreme Court and will originate from the Supreme Court Courtroom. The lecture will also be transmitted statewide via web-streaming through Idaho Public Television. Subsequent annual lectures will be offered at the Supreme Court building pending completion of the Idaho Law Learning Center.
It is envisioned that the annual lecture will address a wide range of subjects relating to the improved administration of the justice system and will feature well respected national, state, and regional speakers to address Idaho citizens, students, and state and local officials from all three branches of government.
A fund to support the Darrington Lecture has been established through the University of Idaho Foundation and additional development efforts will be undertaken by the University of Idaho College of Law.
A Darrington Lecture Program Committee has also been appointed to plan and design the series. Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Burdick, University of Idaho Law School Dean Donald Burnett, and Reed Larsen, a former Idaho State Bar President, will serve on the Program Committee. The committee will be convened by the Administrative Director of the Idaho Courts before the end of the year to begin planning the Inaugural Lecture. It is also contemplated that Sen. Darrington will be invited to serve on the committee.