December 12, 2018
Writer: Bryanna Willis

After spending the last nine years as a district judge in Eastern Idaho, and 19 years before that as an attorney, Judge Gregory Moeller of Rexburg is headed to Boise to serve on the Idaho State Supreme Court.     

“It’s a great honor,” Moeller told BYU-Idaho Radio. 

For the past nine years Moeller has served as a district judge. Moeller said he has been serving as a trial judge, which means he oversees trials and all the different parts of trials like arraignments and sentencings. 

To contrast that, his new position on the Idaho Supreme Court is an appellate position, which means he will listen to the arguments in cases to determine whether the case’s previous trials were fair ones. 

“I’ll essentially be reviewing the decision of other judges on the types of cases I am currently handling,” Moeller said. 

East Idaho Native 

A native of east Idaho, Moeller graduated from South Fremont High School and then went to Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School. 

“I spent my whole education being a cougar,” Moeller said chuckling. 

Looking back he is very grateful for the time he spent as an attorney working civil, criminal and even water law cases. 

“I think it prepared me really well when I became a district judge because I was used to handling a very broad variety of cases,” Moeller said. “I wasn’t focused on just one area of law.” 

He said while at Rigby, AndersonMoeller provided him with great mentors and gave him the opportunity to learn from great men and respect the law. 

Judge and Teacher 

As a district judge, Moeller was more than the presiding judge, he was also a teacher. He would teach jurors, defendants and others in the courtroom. Moeller said he hopes to continue to teach while in Boise. 

Being on the Idaho Supreme Court gives him a unique opportunity to do this as the opinions and decisions he makes will become precedent for other cases in the state. 

Moeller teaches not just in the courtroom but also in the community. He even spenfive semesters teaching at BYU-Idaho.  

Personal Connections to “To Kill a Mockingbird” 

He often gets asked to share his story of how he got a signed copy of the book “To Kill a Mockingbird.” 

Moeller says as a teenager he knew he was going to be an attorney when he watched the movie adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The scene when Atticus Finch walked out of the courthouse after losing his case representing an innocent black man touched him. Moeller said he felt a chill run up the back of his neck. 

“I knew at that moment I was going to be a lawyer someday and that I also knew that someday I would be representing an innocent man in a case,” Moeller said. 

Turned out that less than a year after leaving law school he did represent a man who was innocent of murder. To read more about that story follow this link. 

After giving a speech on the experience on the campus of BYU-Idaho, someone sent a copy of the speech to “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee and she sent him back a signed copy of the book.  

Philosophy on Judgement 

While serving as a judge, Moeller said his philosophy has been to always remember that the work is all about people. 

Every case I have is very important to the people that are involved,” Moeller said. 

When he has a defendant in court, he says it is good to remember they might have done something terrible, or they might be innocent. Either way it is probably the worst day of their life. 

“There is no reason for me to make it any harder for them by being mean, he said. 

He also has always thought that a judge should be able to discern between stupidity and evil. 

“Stupidity deserves a second chance, evil doesn’t,” Moeller said. 

What Will He Miss Most 

He said he will miss working personally with people on a regular basis. While serving on the Idaho Supreme Court he will not be working so personally with others. 

This is the third time Moeller has been nominated as an Idaho Supreme Court justice. 

The first time he applied, he came in as pretty much an unknown and it was surprising to many when he ended up as a finalist. The second time it was more of a disappointment for him to lose out on the spot and he hesitated in applying for a third time.  

“It’s very taxing to be a candidate for that long, it’s almost like running for president!” Moeller said. “After a lot of people who are important to me gave me their thoughts and viewpoints I decided to try it again.” 

 He estimates he will be sworn in the first week of January, but nothing is set in stone yet.