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Eye On Boise

Idaho Supreme Court rejects Pennsylvania man’s gun rights appeal

The Idaho Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a Pennsylvania man who wanted Idaho courts to declare that he has the right to bear arms – because a past felony rape conviction in Idaho had been reduced to a misdemeanor – on technical grounds. In a unanimous ruling authored by Justice Daniel Eismann, the high court found that a lower court rejected Todd Rich’s request on two alternative grounds: That he lacked standing to make the request, because there was no current court dispute between Rich and Idaho; and that the state Commission of Pardons and Parole, not the courts, has authority to restore gun rights.

Rich challenged the standing argument, arguing that he suffered an “actual injury” because Pennsylvania, where he now lives, refused to allow him the right to bear arms, based on his Idaho record. But Eismann wrote that he didn’t also challenge the jurisdiction argument about the Commission for Pardons and Parole.

“Where a lower court makes a ruling based on two alternative grounds and only one of those grounds is challenged on appeal, the appellate court must affirm on the uncontested basis,” Eismann wrote, citing a 2007 Idaho Supreme Court case. “Therefore, the district court did not err in dismissing this action with prejudice.”

Idaho’s laws have changed since Rich’s conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor, and no longer allow felony sex crimes to be reduced to misdemeanors.

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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