To avoid a swarm of media, attorneys postponed Sunday’s questioning here of former Los Angeles Police detective Mark Fuhrman.
The meeting is already rescheduled but the date and place were blacked out on court documents to keep them secret.
Fuhrman, who moved here last summer, was supposed to be deposed by O.J. Simpson’s lawyers at an undisclosed location in Bonner County.
The meeting was canceled late Tuesday and the new date sealed by a judge to protect Fuhrman’s privacy.
“Due to the high profile nature of the deposition, which is not a public event, I decided to seal the date,” said 1st District Court Judge James Michaud.
“All the attorneys agreed that the future date not be disclosed and asked me to take notice of the publicity surrounding this.”
Sandpoint was already braced for a media onslaught this weekend. The city and human rights groups saw it as a chance to polish the city’s image and refute reports that Sandpoint is a bastion for bigots.
Local motels and a few restaurants were expecting to do some brisk business.
Reporters from California, several networks and tabloid television shows already had booked many of the hotel rooms in town. Thirty rooms were snatched up at Connie’s Motor Inn.
“We were really looking forward to the extra business. Maybe they will come anyway,” laughed Chris Rembowski, Connie’s office manager.
“We haven’t had any cancellations yet, but I think we are going to be getting a lot of calls when word gets out.”
A waitress at the Pastime Cafe joked she won’t have to worry about being called into work Sunday and help with the busy restaurant.
Sandpoint Mayor David Sawyer was a bit relieved the town won’t be host to a media circus.
“We are perfectly happy to not spend a great deal of time and energy responding to something that is going in L.A.,” he said. “We don’t really feel O.J.’s (civil) trial is a local issue.”
Yet, local human rights groups, the chamber and businesses printed 1,000 posters with the slogan “Sandpoint is too great for hate.” Some already have been plastered in downtown windows. City Hall also had media kits prepared for the press with facts about Sandpoint and its human rights efforts.
“It would have been nice to get our message out and send a visual statement that in fact we are diverse, we are tolerant and we support human rights. But it’s nothing that can’t be done at a later time,” said Sandpoint Human Rights Coalition member Debbie Ferguson.
“Honestly what we are doing is something that needed to be done anyway. It’s good for us to take stock of ourselves. It brought a lot of soul-searching to the community.”
Attorneys initially wanted Michaud to seal the entire court record so the public and media wouldn’t know Fuhrman’s deposition was even postponed. The judge refused that request.
Fuhrman was subpoenaed last month by Simpson’s legal team. They want to question the retired detective before Simpson’s civil trial over the deaths of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson.
Simpson’s attorneys and Fuhrman’s local lawyer, Ford Elsaesser, declined to comment about the postponement.
This is the third time Fuhrman’s deposition here has been moved. He was initially scheduled to meet with lawyers in February at a room in Connie’s.
Fuhrman does have the option of going to California to be questioned, but only if he chooses. The deposition was scheduled in Bonner County because it’s Fuhrman’s county of residence and he is only a witness, not a party to the civil suit against Simpson.