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Soldier Loses Vote In Brannon Case

U.S. Army Sgt. Gregory A. Proft, now of Fort Benning, Ga., had his vote in the 2009 Coeur d’Alene City Council race taken away, as part of an agreement among lawyers in Jim Brannon’s lawsuit to overturn his election loss to Councilman Mike Kennedy. In the third day of testimony, the lawyers agreed that three individuals inadvertently had voted illegally — Proft (who was serving in the Middle East at the time and had seen combat in Baquobah, Ramadi and Baghdad),  Dustin Ainsworth, and Nancy White. Proft voted for Jim Brannon and Ainsworth and White voted for Kennedy. Therefore, Brannon lost 1 vote, and Kennedy 2. Originally, Kennedy won the election by 5 votes. Proft, who was the subject of much speculating by Brannon and his supporters in the early days of the election challenge, voted absentee, although he’d lived in Post Falls but never Coeur d’Alene before shipping out. He was assigned the address of the Kootenai County Courthouse in Coeur d’Alene, as a result. Only later did Brannon’s investigators learn that he’d voted for their candidate. You can read an earlier version of the story about Sgt. Proft here.

Question: Am I the only one bothered by the fact that a soldier, then stationed in the combat zone of the Middle East, lost his vote as a result of this election challenge?

BP: ‘Painful’ To Sit Thru Brannon Trial

A Berry Picker files this report from the Brannon Trial front lines: “I sat in for about an hour at the trial.  It is painful to sit thru.  Starr Kelso is throwing darts to see what sticks when this should have been done during the preparation process.  At one point, he presented Susan Smith with paper work for her to review and answer to.  It took Judge Hosack some time to figure out what and where Kelso was directing testimony.  Kelso suggested that Susan Smith could go line by line of absentee voters in the spreadsheet he presented, Hosack responded “NO, we will not be doing that.”  Judge Hosack also stated that he has never seen an attorney try to present evidence during trial in this manner.  Judge Hosack stated a few times that he failed to see the relevance and once was confused as to the point of Barry McHugh’s testimony regarding a chain of emails. Starr Kelso has a nervous tick:  He sucks air through the corner of his mouth and teeth.  It is loud and he does this often.  I counted 12 sucks in one minute.  There were other minutes where I lost count.  

Hosack Concerned About Trial’s Pace

In the Coeur d’Alene Press, reporter Tom Hasslinger reports today: “The trial is scheduled to run through Thursday, but many witnesses have yet to be called. They have showed up to testify, but have left their phone numbers with counsel to be contacted when they’re needed and left before the day concluded. ‘We’re two days into the trial,’ said 1st District Judge Charles Hosack at the end of the daylong hearing. ‘I’m beginning to get concerned about the pace.’” Full story here.

Question: Why do you think Hosack’s allowing Starr Kelso to continue at a snail’s pace?

DOTC Survives Kelso Interrogation

Dan of the County: Well, I discovered at least one good thing about having to testify for over eight hours in two days … you have one of the best reserved seats in the house! … A motion was made to exclude witnesses but that was denied so we all get to be there.

Question: Have you ever been called to be a witness in a trial?

Kelso Calls Susan Smith To Witness Stand

Susan Smith, a county elections department worker, was on the witness stand when Judge Charles Hosack adjourned court proceedings into Jim Brannon’s lawsuit against Councilman Mike Kennedy and the 2009 Coeur d’Alene City Council elections this afternoon. Smith, the third of fiftysome people on Kelso’s witness list, took the stand around 3:30 p.m. Until then, Kelso had questioned County Clerk Dan English for the entire day. Major John Chamness of the Salvation Army/Kroc Center told Huckleberries Online this afternoon that his wife, Lani, was dismissed from the witness list late this morning. Lani Chamness was dismissed after this blog posted her husband’s account of a private investigator who tried to find out Friday night for whom she had voted. Huckleberries is trying to obtain a witness list to post here.

Question: Anyone willing to guess how long it’s going to take Kelso to get to the end of his witness list?

CoeurGenX: Kelso Wasted My Time

CoeurGenX: I was that person who Starr ignored with a little waive from the back of his hand, he made me feel like I was not worthy to speak to him. All I was doing was attempting to ask about a timeline for when I may be needed as a witness. After sitting in the court room all day hearing Starr question EVERY rule and EVERY procedure, and then at times sit and say nothing for 2-3 minutes as he searched his papers for a new question, I REFUSED TO RETURN TO THE COURT ROOM TODAY.. What an embarrassment to our city and county officials who have to suffer through this at our tax payer’s expense …

Gookin: Why Brannon Hid From MikeK

Do you remember last fall when Huckleberries Online reported that challenger Jim Brannon had hid in his office from incumbent Councilman Mike Kennedy? Well, Brannon ally Dan Gookin sheds a little more life on what was going on inside Brannon HQ on Sherman Avenue when Kennedy came knocking. Gookin was on the phone to Brannon at the time, according to a comment Gookin made today under the Coeur d’Alene Press online story about the Brannon election challenge trial. He suggested that Brannon open the door and treat Kennedy like a religious propagandist. Gookin contends that he could hear Kennedy pounding on the door and demanding that Brannon open up. So Gookin said he grabbed hurried to Brannon HQ w/cell phone in hand to record the event. But got there too late. Gookin provides this moral to his story: “Avoid a confrontation with Mr. Kennedy as it could end badly. By ending badly, I wonder if Gookin means … in a 5-vote loss? You can read it all for yourself here (12:01 p.m. post).

Dan English On Stand All Morning

This just in from the Brannon Election Challenge front: County Clerk Dan English has been on the witness stand all morning, while Brannon attorney Starr Kelso painstakingly slowly questions him while going through page after page of the election manual. The courtroom is stocked with 9 or 10 witnesses who have no idea when they are going to be called to testify, including Lani Chamness, who was approached by a female private investigator who under false pretences asked her how she voted Friday evening. Meanwhile, Bill McCrory, Larry Spencer, & Mary Souza are at their post behind the Kelso-Brannon bench, occasionally chatting with attorney Kelso. The eyes and ears of Hucks Online in the courtroom described progress this morning as “nothing’s going on.”

HBO Poll: Kennedy Will Prevail

  • Monday Poll: A supermajority of Hucks Online readers believe that Councilman Mike Kennedy will prevail in the court trial re: Jim Brannon’s lawsuit to overturn his 5-vote election loss in the 2009 Coeur d’Alene municipal election. 120 of 169 respondents (70.83%) said the court would side with Kennedy. 37 of 169 (22.02%) said Brannon would prevail. 12 of 169 (7.14%) were undecided.
  • Today’s Question: Is the fact that Deputy Hirzel sells sex toys online as a side business relevant to case involving his deadly shooting of Pastor Creach?

Kelso, Kennedy Have Confrontation

During the daylong hearing, Kennedy and Kelso had a verbal confrontation at the back of the courtroom. Kennedy had heard complaints that an investigative firm hired to look into the votes had been misrepresenting itself to voters, and voiced these complaints to Kelso’s son, Matt, who is helping his father during the trial. Starr Kelso told Kennedy not to complain to his son, but rather to him/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press. Press report of trial here.

Question: Can you blame Mike Kennedy for being miffed at Team Brannon for dragging him into its lawsuit financially when his only role in this was to beat Brannon by 5 votes?

Team Brannon Milks Losing Cause

They are like children. Unfortunately, they are manipulating the legal process in an effort to score political points. Its the mark of desperation when a party tries to DQ the judge on the day of trial. They risk alienating the sole decision maker by accusing him of bias making it a fait accomplis (look it up, Starr). They know they’re going to lose and and they’re already looking to the next court under the guise of preserving issues for appeal which dovetails nicely in Kelso’s scatter shot strategy, if you can call it that, of throwing issues at the wall to see if anything will stick. Moreover, Team Brannon has taken every opportunity to delay the litigation/Sisyphus. More below.

Question: Was Starr Kelso’s attempt to disqualify Judge Charles Hosack a good strategy? Or a sign of desperation?

Brannon Trial Begins With Fireworks

The trial began with fireworks as Kelso attempted to disqualify Kootenai County First District Judge Charles Hosack due to statements the judge made ruling on a related matter. In that ruling, Hosack apparently used the word “anathema,” which Kelso said he had to look up. Kelso said the use of that word must have taken some thought and showed Hosack felt “that this election contest is vile.” “You cannot proceed,” Kelso said to the judge. “You have shown your personal bias.” Hosack, however, dismissed that motion and remained as judge, saying Kelso, who was not present at the prior hearing, had missed the context of the discussion. Lastly, he added, “I can guarantee Mr. Kelso it didn’t take me any research to come up with the word ‘anathema’”’/Alison Boggs, SR. More here.

Question: Do you know what the word, “anathema” means without looking it up in the dictionary?

English Testifying In Brannon Case

Update: County Clerk Dan English was on the stand this afternoon when Judge Charles Hosack adjourned court for the day. The only 2 witnesses called today by Jim Brannon attorney Starr Kelso were Coeur d’Alene City Clerk Susan Weathers and English. Alison Boggs is working on the newspaper story re: today’s proceedings. I’ll post it on Hucks Online when it’s available.

Alison Boggs reports back from Jim Brannon’s court trial to overthrow 2009 Coeur d’Alene election that opening arguments are done — and that Judge Charles Hosack rejected an attempt by Brannon attorney Starr Kelso to disqualify him from hearing the case. Now, Kelso is going through Idaho voter law point by point with Coeur d’Alene City Clerk Susan Weathers on the stand to try to show that she was the one responsible for overseeing the 2009 elections, not Kootenai County. Weathers has responded to several questions from Kelso that the city contracted with the county to handle the election. Period.

Hucks: Brannon Backer Not Optimistic

Dan Gookin isn’t as confident as other Jim Brannon allies, now that the long-delayed trial for Brannon’s legal challenge of his five-vote loss to incumbent Councilman Mike Kennedy is upon us (beginning Monday). In a recent Coeur d’Alene Press online comment, Gookin told his followers – both of them – that he didn’t expect Judge Charles Hosack to overturn the 2009 Coeur d’Alene city election results/DFO, Huckleberries Online. Full Huckleberries Online column here.

Question: How do you think the trial that begins today will turn out, involving Jim Brannon’s attempt to overthrow his 5-vote loss to Councilman Mike Kennedy?

Letter: Thanks For Expense, Brannon

In a letter to the editor of the Coeur d’Alene Press, Lou Soumas of Coeur d’Alene writes in part: “In these fiscally tight times it is prudent to examine the cost of (Jim Brannon’s) litigation. I estimate defendants legal cost will be, county — $30,000, city — $40,000 and Kennedy — $50,000. The city and county get their money from us, the taxpayers; their costs are our costs. I would hope that before this is over Councilman Kennedy’s cost will be borne by our city. If not, what does this say to anyone seeking public office in Coeur d’Alene, ‘Proceed at your own risk and expense?’ This case will cost the taxpayers at least $120,000. Thank you, Mr. Brannon, for helping keep my taxes low.” More here.

Question: How much do you think Jim Brannon’s lawsuit will cost the taxpayers (via legal expenses to Kootenai County, the city of Coeur d’Alene, and Councilman Mike Kennedy, who’s now footing his own bills)?

Mary: Whole Truth, Nothing But Truth?

Izzit me, or is Team Brannon beginning to spin the expected results of this month’s trial like crazy? Thursday, we were treated to a comment under a Coeur d’Alene Press online story in which Dan Gookin admitted that he doesn’t expect Judge Charles Hosack to order a new election. Now, we have Mary Souza (see 8:12 comment here) joining in by saying that she always presents the facts and nothing but the facts — and that “It is obvious that Team Kennedy is worried because they are not addressing the crux of the election problems. Instead, they are desperately searching for a way to block the testimony and/or the trial. They don’t want the facts to be known!” Dunno whether to go with a Chicken Little illustration here — or the one with the little boy crying wolf. But it’s obvious that one side is getting desperate. And it ain’t Team Kennedy.

DFO: How is Team Brannon going to spin this if/when it loses?

Voltron: Hosack Delivered Death Blow

Voltron: As Nic pointed out, the discovery process means Kelso has to give all evidence to the defense. There won’t be any dramatic courtroom scenarios where two dozen people suddenly appear and admit they voted illegally voted for Kennedy. Hosack’s refusal to force people living outside of Idaho to appear in court is a death blow to Brannon’s case. You’d have get them to admit under oath they voted for Kennedy. Good luck with that. If a person did show, all a person would have to do is say, “I don’t remember who I voted for.” Team Brannon keeps using language like fraud and corruption, but proving Mike Kennedy is responsible is almost impossible. All the defense attorney has to do is ask, “Mr. Kennedy were you responsible for running the 2009 election?” Answer, “No sir. That is the job of Dan English and Kootenai County.” The bar is pretty high for Brannon to prove his case, I think Hosack spelled it out in black and white.

Question: Did Judge Hosack deliver a death blow to Team Brannon’s chances of prevailing at trial when he refused to force voters living out of Idaho to appear in court?

Gookin Doesn’t Expect New Election

Sounds like Dan Gookin’s ready to toss in the towel re: Jim Brannon’s very long shot try to overturn the 2009 Coeur d’Alene City Council elections. Under the Coeur d’Alene Press online story about Tuesday’s rulings by Judge Charles Hosack in the case without end amen, Gookin writes: “… this thing is going to trial. Testimony will be heard, evidence given. The public will know what happened. I don’t think the judge will order a new election, but the people of Coeur d’Alene will harbor serious doubts as to the legitimacy of their city government. Rightfully so.” Or the public will finally realize the lack of legitimacy of this lawsuit. Judge Hosack already has commented that Brannon/Starr Kelso/Bill McCrory & Co. have failed to make their various points. Either Gookin is trying to lower expectations. Or one of the OpenCDA.com crowd finally has the sense to admit what many of us have realized all along. This dog don’t hunt. You can read Gookin’s full comment here (4:53 p.m. comment).


Judge: ‘I Have Not Been Convinced’

Hosack said the case has a lot to prove to identify and overturn five votes that were illegally cast for Kennedy. The judge weighed nearly two hours of testimony from both counsels in support and against the hundreds of pages worth of affidavits and reports now filling multiple files in courthouse records regarding the civil suit that’s in its 10th month. While some of those filings don’t amount yet to fact in the court’s view, the case has come too far now to cut it off, the judge ruled. “If it were a trial, I have not been convinced,” Hosack said. “But this isn’t a trial”/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press. More here. (SR file photo of Judge Charles Hosack by Kathy Plonka)

Question: What do you make of the statement by Judge Charles Hosack: ‘If it were a trial, I have not been convinced’?

Sisyphus: Brannon Case Not Justice

Sisyphus: Dave, he has to show six illegal votes FOR Kennedy. I’m still mightily confused how we get a trial without an indispensable party. Attorney fees in this case are well into the six figures. This isn’t justice.

DFO: I talked to a couple of people on Councilman Mike Kennedy’s side of the aisle after the hearing Wednesday. They welcomed the various rulings, especially the various rejected ones from Jim Brannon attorney Starr Kelso. And weren’t surprised that Judge Charles Hosack rejected the motion for summary judgment. They considered themselves winners at the end of the day. It sounds like the judge is letting this go to trial simply to ensure that Brannon supporters can’t whine that they didn’t get their day in court. As evidence that the day didn’t go well for Brannon Wednesday, Ancient Templar at OpenCDA.com is already yapping that this case should go to the U.S. Supreme Court. He’s the No. 4 post under: “It’s going to trial” here. If you can imagine that.

Question: If Jim Brannon loses again in the court trial before currently unpersuaded Judge Charles Hosack, do you think that’ll be the end of this case?

Brannon Case Going To Trial

Sisyphus: “Any chucklebunnies know what’s going on in Hosack’s courtroom? I’m still confused how this thing ain’t dismissed yet.” Also: “HolyMarymotherofGod, I just checked the repository and I can’t recall ever seeing such a lengthy file. They’ve opened up nine of ten different court files. And Kelso filed three Amended Complaints, the last one yesterday, alleging fraud and corruption. Trial is in two weeks!! This is ludicrous. Taxpayers should be incensed that they’re footing the bill for this.”

DFO: Judge Charles Hosack is allowing this lawsuit to go onto trial Sept. 13 because he wants to be sure that there’s no question that Jim Brannon’s long-running case gets a fair hearing of six impartial jurors. However, in hearing motions today, Hosack made it clear that Brannon and his attorney, Starr Kelso, need to produce in court six individuals who voted illegally to win their case. Also, the judge denied a motion by Kelso to compel individuals living elsewhere to be in the courtroom for the trial. The judge also denied a motion by Mike Kennedy’s attorney Scott Reed for summary judgment, to dismiss the case.

DOTC: Busy Providing Brannon Papers

Actually, I’m not sure if you’re offer is tongue in cheek, Kage, but yes all records have been provided and examined starting very early in the process through today. Both myself and my election staff have spent significant time just this week providing requested documents to both attorneys and their associates. I’m honestly not aware of anything that hasn’t been provided and in as quickly a timeframe as the legal process allowed. Like everyone involved I’ll be very happy to see this come to some final closure, whatever the Court decides, in a few weeks so my office and I can focus on our primary responsibilities for the soon to be here General Election.

Question: Has Dan of the County’s re-election chances been hurt by Jim Brannon’s lawsuit against the city of Coeur d’Alene and Councilman Mike Kennedy?

Voltron: Let’s Resolve 2009 Election

In the comments section, Voltron has proposed a contest between Councilman Mike Kennedy and challenger Jim Brannon, with a North Idaho Fair theme, to end Brannon’s long-running lawsuit from 2009 council elections.There’s seven rounds to the contest, with each round progressively harder. The Third Round tests, for example, “is about having a strong stomach. It consists eating an elephant ear, one cotton candy, an ice cream bar, a corn dog and a rasberry flavored snow cone in the fastest time possible. During the eating portion, Mike Kennedy will be forced to listen to a Mary Souza rant on tape. Jim Brannon will be forced to listen to Phaedrus rant on tape. Any vomitting is an automatic loss for the round.” You can read the entire contest proposal here.

Question: Can you suggest other fair-oriented tests to resolve Brannon’s legal challenge?

Inlander: CdA Politics Stuck in 2009

Spokane just finished its primary elections. North Idaho’s were back in May. But Coeur d’Alene is still stuck in 2009 thanks to its city council election, a five-vote squeaker has created a frenzy of legal issues and cries of small-town corruption. Last November, incumbent Councilman Mike Kennedy beat challenger Jim Brannon (pictured). A few weeks later, Brannon filed a lawsuit challenging the results. Idaho law allows the loser a free recount if the victory is within one-tenth of a percent — but using the same ballots and the same machines wouldn’t do, Brannon announced, demanding careful analysis of the election. In the following months, that analysis has devolved into taunts and insults on competing websites (the Spokesman-Review’s Huckleberries Online and the conspiracy-minded opencda.com) and allegations that North Idaho’s civic leaders are as power hungry as North Korea’s dear leader. How did a city council race ever come to this?/Heidi Groover, Inlander. More here.

  • DFO: Reporter Heidi Groover is a summer intern for the Inlander from Hayden.

Question: Has Jim Brannon’s lawsuit against the city of Coeur d’Alene and Councilman Mike Kennedy prevented the city from moving ahead in any way? Or is it simply a distraction?

Bill McCrory Contempt Charge On Hold

Item: Contempt charge on hold: Judge wants to wait until election challenge is decided/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: McCrory pleaded not guilty to the contempt charges on Tuesday. That trial has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 17, a day after the election suit is scheduled to wrap up. If he’s found guilty on the two accusations, he could face up to $10,000 in civil fines.


McCrory Denies Contempt Charge

Update: McCrory denied that he was in contempt of court, at the hearing this afternoon. Now, Judge Charles Hosack will set a date in September to hear the case.

A contempt of court hearing involving Bill McCrory, a supporter in Jim Brannon’s long-running suit to overturn the 2009 Coeur d’Alene City Council election results, is scheduled for 3 o’clock this afternoon in 1st District Judge Charles Hosack’s courtroom. Scott Reed, the attorney for Councilman Mike Kennedy, wants McCrory held in contempt of court for allegedly violating a confidentiality agreement in the case. According to an Aug. 13 Coeur d’Alene Press story, Reed complained that voter information pertaining to the recently-reviewed absentee envelopes wasn’t supposed to be shared outside the courtroom and Bill McCrory violated that privacy agreement. Stay tuned.

Question: How do you think this’ll play out?

Bill McCrory in contempt?

COEUR d’ALENE - The attorney representing City Councilman Mike Kennedy wants a document reviewer held in contempt of court for reportedly violating a confidentiality agreement.

Voter information pertaining to the recently-reviewed absentee envelopes wasn’t supposed to be shared outside the courtroom and Bill McCrory violated that privacy agreement, a complaint filed Thursday by attorney Scott Reed states.

“Information he observed in the examination of election documents … he swore he would keep to himself as confidential,” the complaint says. McCrory’s envelope findings were filed as a court affidavit, and later posted on the website, Opencda.com, along with a newspaper article about the affidavit. Both the affidavit and article revealed voter identities. Tom Hasslinger, Cda Press Read more.

Yikes! Persons found guilty of contempt of court face fines or jail time. How do you this think latest sally in the never-ending saga of Brannon v. Kennedy will turn out?

MikeK: McCrory’s Affidavit ‘Ridiculous’

Councilman Mike Kennedy re: banner front-page story re: discovery by Bill McCrory of “many ballot irregularities” in today’s Coeur d’Alene Press: “I could write volumes about this story (and its placement on the front page) and the ridiculous affivadit which spawned it, but the bottom line is the claims are completely and totally irrelevant to the electoral lawsuit in the slightest. Aside from which they are false, defamatory, and politically motivated. Other than that, what’s not to love?”

Question: Am I the only one who wonders when the Coeur d’Alene Press will begin covering Rep. Phil Hart’s tax troubles with as much fervor as it does Jim Brannon’s never-ending election challenge?

McCrory Claims Irregularities Found

Bill McCrory, a supporter of seat 2 challenger Jim Brannon and a man who recently attempted unsuccessfully to intervene in the election challenge lawsuit, signed a court affidavit claiming he found around 900 irregularities after reviewing the absentee ballot envelopes. Examples of the irregularities include ballot return envelopes that were not signed by the elector, or did not have the date and time receipt written or stamped after they were returned/Coeur d’Alene Press. More here.


HBO Poll: GOP Gift To Brannon Not Right

  • Thursday Poll: 117 of 155 respondents (75%) said it isn’t proper for the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee to donate $2500 to loser Jim Brannon’s legal challenge of his 5-vote loss to City Councilman Mike Kennedy in the 2009 Coeur d’Alene elections. Only 31 of 155 (20%) said it was proper to do so. 7 of 155 (5%) were undecided.
  • Today’s Poll: Should House GOP leaders remove Rep. Phil Hart from the Revenue & Taxation Committee?