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Eye On Boise

Idaho Supreme Court tosses Wasden’s cabin-site rent challenge

The Idaho Supreme Court, in a 3-2 ruling today, has granted the state's motion to dismiss Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's legal challenge to state-owned cabin site rents, which charged that the state Land Board is violating the Idaho Constitution by not securing the maximum long-term return for the beneficiaries of the state's endowment lands, the largest of which is Idaho's public schools. The decision, authored by Justice Joel Horton, didn't dispute Wasden's contention that the Land Board is violating the Constitution. Instead, it essentially ruled on procedural grounds, saying Wasden could approach the case in a different manner starting at a lower court. Horton wrote that "there is a plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law such that the extraordinary remedy of a writ of prohibition would be improper." Chief Justice Dan Eismann and Justice Pro Tem Linda Copple Trout concurred in the majority opinion.

Justice Roger Burdick dissented, writing, "The facts in this case are not in dispute. The record clearly demonstrates that the Land Board is exceeding its discretion in leasing the cottage sites for less than market value and failing to obtain the maximum long-term financial return for the beneficiaries, which is a violation of both I.C. § 58-310A and the Idaho Constitution. The majority does not deny this, instead finding that the Attorney General has other plain, speedy and adequate remedies available." But Burdick said he does not, disputing the majority opinion's contention that Wasden could get a preliminary injunction and seek a declaratory judgment. All of the state's cabin site leases expire this month and are up for renewal. Justice Warren Jones concurred in the dissent. You can read the full ruling here.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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