When Judge Bryan K. Murray was selected as the judge to serve in the Bannock County Juvenile Court some 29 years ago, the State of Idaho and Bannock County and the state benefited greatly.
Judge Murray was a local choice; a graduate of Pocatello High School, Idaho State University, and the University of Idaho School of Law. He worked through high school as a janitor at ISU’s Mini Dome, now known as Holt Arena, and spent summers as a lifeguard and river guide at scout camp.
When he started at Idaho State University, he went to work as a campus security guard providing security for all of the concerts and the other events at Holt Arena, as well as other buildings on campus. For his last year and a half at Idaho State, he was the captain of the security agency.
Judge Murray completed his Juris Doctorate at the University of Idaho and was named the Academy of Trial Lawyers Distinguished Achievement award for his law school class. Returning to Pocatello in 1982, he was a local attorney for 11 years and was involved in many community activities and service programs.
He served as president of the Camp Fire board, as a scoutmaster for ten years, and then as a scout district chair and Boy Scout Council vice-president responsible for the scout camps. When the Gate City Rotary Club was formed, he joined and later served as club president.
In 2002 he was named a Distinguished Alumnus Award for Pocatello High School. In 2004 he received the Professional Achievement Award from Idaho State University, and in 2020 the Distinguished Graduate Award from the University of Idaho School of Law.
As part of his work as a judge, he helped transform juvenile justice in Idaho. A new juvenile law was enacted with new court procedures and a new state agency. The Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections was created to support new county-run juvenile probation and diversion programs. He helped create Bannock County Juvenile justice and its programs. He advocated for the creation of services for children and the ability to provide services even without the need for the juvenile to be on probation. The work in Bannock County and the state has dramatically reduced the need for juveniles to be removed from their families and placed in state custody, with significant financial savings to the taxpayers of the state. Bannock County’s commitments to state custody were reduced from around 50, at any given time, to an average of 13.
He created three problem-solving courts: The Juvenile Drug Court, the Family Treatment Drug Court, and Truancy Court. Each program required the creation of services and treatment for the participants. He took over the mental health civil commitment process for the 6th Judicial District and created a process for the court to go to the patients instead of the patients needing to be restrained and transported. He advocated for physical facilities needed for treatment and a better court process statewide for mental health cases.
With the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act, The Idaho Supreme Court assigned him to create and chair a state committee to improve how courts serve abused, neglected, and abandoned children in Idaho. He chaired that committee for 25 years and helped Idaho lead the nation in quality results for children. He has represented Idaho and taught child protection and juvenile justice all over the country, and was even invited to a child protection meeting at the White House. He has presided over the reunification of many families and the adoption of children into loving and caring families where reunification was not possible.
Judge Murray used the power of the court to convene people to create community and state coalitions for collaborating across jurisdictional and agency boundaries for coordinated efforts for children and families. The Bannock County group helped create alternate schools, now known as New Horizons High School. They started the program at the National Guard Armory because there was no classroom space available in the school district building for the programs back then. He believes that people serving families and children should share their resources and coordinate efforts to better serve.
He served as chair of the Idaho Juvenile Offender system board for 20 years, on the Idaho Safe and Drug Free Schools Board, Gov. Kempthorne’s Coordinating Council on Families and Children, the regional and state Juvenile Justice advisory committees, and the Idaho Infant Toddler Committee. He has trained new judges in his areas of expertise for many years. The United States gave him the Commissioners’ Award of the Department of Health and Human Services. Idaho courts gave him the Kramer Award for Judicial Administration and George G. Granata, Jr. Professionalism Award. The Idaho Juvenile Justice Association gave him the John Shuler Award.
His retirement is well earned, and he needs some time to rest, but he will still serve as a Sr. for Idaho.