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Posts tagged: idaho supreme court

Breaking: Court Rules For Kennedy

Originally posted at 11:02 a.m. today

A Coeur d’Alene man who contested his loss in a 2009 City Council election has lost his appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court. The court today issued its opinion in Jim Brannon’s legal fight over the narrow election loss to Councilor Mike Kennedy. The justices ruled that Kootenai County 1st District Judge Charles Hosack properly denied Brannon’s motion for a new trial. Hosack concluded in his October 2010 decision that there was no error in the counting of votes, as Brannon had argued, nor misconduct on the part of county elections workers that would change the result of the election/Scott Maben, SR. More here.

Supreme Court conclusion: “We find that the district court did not err when it denied Brannon’s motion to disqualify. We also hold that the UOCAVA absentee voter requirements did not apply to municipal elections held prior to 2011, but that there is insufficient evidence in the record to conclude that the five disputed votes in this case were illegal. We hold that the district court did not err when it refused to order non-city residents to testify about their residency at trial.”  Idaho Supeme Court ruling here.

Question: How will Brannon's followers spin this one?

Court: Farragut Range Can Reopen

In this Oct. 15,2010. SR file photo, Dave Leptich, of Idaho Fish and Game discussed improvements of the shooting range at Farragut State Park. (SR file photo: Kathy Plonka)

In a victory for sport shooters, the Idaho Supreme Court today lifted an injunction that has kept the Farragut State Park shooting range closed for almost six years. The decision will permit the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to reopen the Farragut range to 500 shooters per year, and possibly more than that if a district court judge determines noise and safety concerns have been addressed. The Supreme Court also reversed a district judge’s finding that the Idaho Outdoor Sport Shooting Range is unconstitutional/Scott Maben, SR. More here.

Question: Agree/disagree?

Trib: But When Does Hart Pay?

At the Lewiston Tribune, opinionator Marty Trillhaase offers weekly Cheers & Jeers column:

CHEERS … to the Idaho Supreme Court. First it told scofflaw Hart to pay the $53,000 in back taxes he owes the state. That says nothing of the nearly $500,000 Hart owes the feds. Next, the Supreme Court said he wasn't entitled to preferential treatment. Now it has told him to cough up another $10,000 for wasting everybody's time with such a frivolous claim. The attorney general's office sought the payment to cover what it cost to take Hart into court. Just one question for the Idaho justices:What makes you think he's going to pay?/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. Full Cheers & Jeers column here.

Question: Marty Trillhaase brings up a good point. When does state Rep. Phil Hart have to begin paying back overdue taxes? Is the Supreme Court ruling merely a suggestion? Or does it have teeth?

Supreme Court Hears Brannon Case

The 2009 Coeur d'Alene city election lawsuit went before the Idaho Supreme Court Wednesday, with the high court saying it will consider whether to uphold or reverse a previous ruling that solidified a City Council incumbent's narrow victory over his challenger. The five-member bench, four of which were present at First District Court, didn't give a timetable on when a decision would be reached, meaning it could be weeks or months before a written ruling is issued on the three-year old case. “The issue here isn't vote totals, and who won and who lost,” said Starr Kelso, attorney for then-Seat 2 City Council challenger Jim Brannon, who filed the lawsuit. “It's the sanctity of the” election process/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Do you consider Brannon to be a crusader fighting for justice? Or a sore loser?

High Court To Hear Brannon Appeal

Nearly three years removed from the election, and two years since its court ruling, the 2009 city election lawsuit will go before the Idaho Supreme Court on Wednesday. It's scheduled to go before the high court's five-member body at 11:10 a.m. at the Kootenai County Courthouse. The election challenge suit, filed by then-Seat 2 City Council challenger Jim Brannon (pictured), claimed that inadmissible ballots had led to incumbent Mike Kennedy's five-vote victory. Brannon filed the suit shortly after the election day loss. But litigation with the highly-publicized suit stretched over a year, ending when 1st District Judge Charles Hosack upheld the election following a six-day trial in September 2010. Part of the ruling tossed out four illegal votes (one of which was for Brannon), trimming Kennedy's victory to three votes/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.


Idaho Court Rejects Hart Tax Appeal

A unanimous Idaho Supreme Court has rejected state Rep. Phil Hart's appeal of an order to pay more than $53,000 in back state income taxes, penalties and interest on grounds of legislative privilege; you can read my full story here at In a seven-page opinion authored by Justice Jim Jones, the unanimous court held that the Idaho Constitution's legislative privilege clause from arrest or “civil process” during legislative sessions didn't protect Hart, or permit him to file his state tax appeal months later than anyone else would have been allowed to. “Hart's untenable argument flows from his misunderstanding of the word 'process,'” Jones wrote/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.


Judge Clears Way For Hart Nov. 5 Trial

A U.S. District Court Judge has cleared the way for federal prosecutors to proceed with their case against Athol Republican Rep. Phil Hart for failing to pay income taxes. Justice Edward Lodge handed down three orders today, all in favor the U.S. Government and against Hart. The north Idaho lawmaker had argued that feds should have been barred for serving him with a notice of deficiency while the Idaho Legislature was in session. Additionally, Hart had sought to have tax assessments reduced and foreclosure stalled on a parcel of his property in Kootenai County. Lodge ordered that there be no more delays in the matter and presented Hart with a firm schedule/George Prentice, Boise Weekly. More here.

Question: Hart's trial date is the day before November's general election. How does that play in his chances at re-election?

Supreme Court Hears Hart’s Appeal

Phil Hart’s anti-tax battle hit the big time Monday, at least in Idaho. The visiting Idaho Supreme Court considered oral arguments in Hart’s continuing fight against income taxes and the justices appeared to have little patience for the Athol lawmaker’s claims that the state constitution shields him from tax collectors. At issue is $53,000 in unpaid state taxes, penalties and interest that the Idaho State Tax Commission ruled Hart owes. In a separate action, Hart faces a federal trial next year where the government is seeking to foreclose on his log home near Athol to recoup about $550,000 for several years of unpaid federal taxes and the corresponding penalties. Hart’s legal defense in both courts centers on a provision of Idaho’s state constitution that bars senators or state representatives from any civil process 10 days before and during the legislative session/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here. And: Coeur d'Alene Press coverage here.


Supreme Court To Hear Hart Appeal

Tax-protesting Idaho State Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, takes his appeal of his state income taxes to the Idaho Supreme Court today; the arguments start at 11:10 a.m. Pacific time in the old courthouse in Coeur d'Alene, second floor, Judge Luster's courtroom. S-R reporter Tom Clouse is there and we'll have a full report/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise.


Ex-Judge Bradbury To Seek D7 Seat

Former 2nd District Court Judge John H. Bradbury announced his bid Monday for the state Senate seat from District 7 as a Democrat. Promising to keep an open mind and not to compromise on constitutional rights, Bradbury, 75, said he is a “pragmatist at heart who won't let my ego or partisan politics get in the way of trying to solve problems.” Bradbury retired last year after serving two terms as district judge in Idaho, Lewis and Clearwater counties. He ran for the Idaho Supreme Court in 2008 and 2010, and narrowly missed unseating the incumbents. He has been a harsh critic of what he believes is cronyism at the high court and Legislature and traveled from one end of the state to the other talking to people about the neglect people in rural areas often feel from lawmakers in Boise/Kathy Hedberg, Lewiston Tribune. More to come.

Question: Did you support John Bradbury when he ran for the Idaho Supreme Court?

Denney, Semanko Issue Statement

House Speaker Lawerence Denney, left, and Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko are shown during a North Idaho tour they took in May 2009 with Gov. Butch Otter.

Following is a joint Statement from Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko regarding the adverse Idaho Supreme Court’s decision on their redistricting lawsuit: “Unfortunately, the Idaho Supreme Court was unable to reach the merits of the case yesterday, opting instead to dismiss it on procedural grounds. As a result, the Court did not decide whether the Redistricting Commissioners can, in fact, be replaced. We are hopeful that the Court will have the opportunity to address the issue in the near future and are continuing to evaluate our legal options as we review the decision. In the meantime, the Commission will reconvene today with a cloud of uncertainty continuing to hang over it with regard to the ultimate legality of any new plan that it may adopt. That is the unfortunate reality of yesterday’s ruling.”

Question: Will the Idaho Republican Party be hurt/helped if it continues to try to replace redistricters Dolores Crow and Randy Hansen?

MT: Denney, Semanko & Flat Earthers

In targeting Idaho's independent redistricting commission for decapitation, Idaho Republican Party Chairman Norm Semanko and House Speaker Lawerence Denney are all in. They're ignoring history. They're disenfranchising voters. They're wading deeply into illogical waters. And they've partnered with the legal equivalent of the Flat Earth Society. Where would they get the notion that they might pull it off? From the highest court in the state. Last week, the Idaho Supreme Court voted 4-1 to strike down the citizen commission's plan for realigning Idaho's population growth with its 35 legislative districts. That redistricting plan was a remarkable feat, accomplished quickly and unanimously by the commission's three Republican and three Democratic members/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Should the redistricting process be taken out of the hands of the Idaho Legislature altogether?

Court: Idaho Redistricting Plan Illegal

The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled 4-1 against the new legislative redistricting plan, L-87, developed by Idaho's second bipartisan redistricting commission this year, holding that it violates the Idaho Constitution. A court challenge led by Twin Falls County contended the plan was unconstitutional because it unnecessarily split counties. The court found that since the plan's unconstitutional, it “must be revised,” but didn't say how; that presumably opens the door for Secretary of State Ben Ysursa to reconvene the redistricting panel to make changes to its plan to bring it into compliance/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.


TFTN: ‘Tis Idaho Judiciary Golden Age

Lots of folks are understandably dispirited about the state of the legislative and executive branches of Idaho government these days. On some levels, frankly, they’re a mess. But Idaho has a third branch of government, the judiciary. And it may be the best it’s been in the state’s 121-year-history. Things got even better this week with the announcement that Justice Roger Burdick, a former Twin Falls district judge and Jerome lawyer who presided for a time over the Snake River Basin Adjudication, has been elected by his fellow Supreme Court justices as chief justice of Idaho. He’ll take office next month/Steve Crump, Twin Falls Times-News. More here.

Question: How much do you know about the Idaho Supreme Court?

Court Rejects Allied Bail Bonds Suit

The Idaho Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Allied Bail Bonds after the firm lost a lawsuit against Kootenai County, charging that the county sheriff was infringing on its business by steering jail inmates toward credit card bonds rather than its bail bonds. The company offered constitutional and other arguments, but the high court rejected all of them, many on procedural grounds/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Phil Hart Appeals To Supreme Court

Tax-protesting state Rep. Phil Hart is taking his fight against having to pay past-due state income taxes to the Idaho Supreme Court, despite already having lost four appeals. Hart, R-Athol, lost his fourth round in March, when 1st District Judge John Mitchell refused to reconsider a December 2010 decision tossing out the appeal. In a 13-page decision, the judge twice termed Hart’s arguments “simply wrong,” and called his central argument – that he’d actually filed his appeal one day earlier than the state says – “patently wrong.” Hart, whose first court appeal in November 2010 charged that the state income tax is unconstitutional, also is arguing that he should have months longer to appeal his taxes than other citizens because of his status as an Idaho state legislator/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.


Brannon Appeals To Supreme Court

As expected 2009 Coeur d’Alene City Council election loser Jim Brannon and his attorney, Starr Kelso, have filed an appeal of Judge Charles Hosack’s decision to the Idaho Supreme Court. The two apparently didn’t wait for Judge Charles Hosack to rule on their request for a new trial. Hosack will hear that request Dec. 7. Team Brannon reportedly appealed on 23 different grounds. You can read the appeal here.

Brannon Move Doesn’t Make Sense

I’m not surprised or disappointed by the action by Team Brannon to seek a new trial, as a precursor to a likely Idaho Supreme Court appeal of Judge Charles Hosack’s rejection of Jim Brannon’s election challenge. However, I do wonder what is Team Brannon’s goal at this point. With the Legislature even more in GOP hands and with sympathetic Kathy Sims soon to  representing the city of Coeur d’Alene in the Legislature, Team Brannon could easily have worked with Sims to introduce legislation to tweak Idaho election law. Or Brannon simply could have thrown his hat into the ring again. After all, we’re 2 or 3 months from the beginning of the 2011 municipal election cycle. Why pursue an appeal that you’ll probably lose — and will cost you more money — if you have less expensive remedies elsewhere? Does Brannon view himself as some sort of martyr? Is this an effort to keep the 2009 City Council election in play, to tarnish the incumbents, as seemed to have been the purpose in the county clerk’s election this fall? Does Starr Kelso have some itch he needs to scratch by taking another case to the Idaho Supreme Court? Inquiring minds want to know — DFO.

Brannon & Kelso File For New Trial

In a move that’s likely a precursor to appealing the adverse ruling in Jim Brannon’s election challenge, attorney Starr Kelso has filed a motion for a new trial with Judge Charles Hosack. If I read the tea leaves correctly, the motion is a precursor for an appeal of Hosack’s decision naming incumbent Mike Kennedy as winner of the 2009 City Council seat against Brannon by 3 votes. You can read the long list of postings in this case with the Idaho State Judiciary here.

Question: Are you surprised that Brannon & Kelso are going ahead with this challenge?

Idaho Court Allows 1st 4 Mega-Loads

The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled in favor of allowing four mega-loads of oil refinery equipment to travel scenic U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho, overturning a lower-court judge who revoked the permits for the four giant truckloads. The court, in a 21-page ruling, found that it didn’t have jurisdiction to revoke the permits for the loads, and neither did the district court. “It is entirely possible that Respondents have real grievances with ITD’s decision in this case,” the court held. “Even so, the Constitution and the Legislature have limited the Court’s power to act here. … The Court’s only choice is to remand with instructions to dismiss without prejudice”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here. (AP File Photo)

Question: Do you think this split 3-2 decision stinks as much as I do?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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