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Bonner County will pay Sandpoint after sheriff’s lawsuit over guns at festivals is dismissed

UPDATED: Wed., March 17, 2021

In this file photo, Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, July 16, 2012 at the Bonner County Sheriff's office in Sandpoint. KATHY PLONKA kathypl@spokesman.com  (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
In this file photo, Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, July 16, 2012 at the Bonner County Sheriff's office in Sandpoint. KATHY PLONKA kathypl@spokesman.com (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Bonner County will pay the city of Sandpoint more than $70,000 and has agreed to permanently dismiss a lawsuit the county brought against the city over firearms regulations, according to a Sandpoint City Hall news release.

Bonner County, through Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, filed suit against Sandpoint in 2019, claiming that the city’s ban on firearms at Sandpoint’s annual waterfront music festival amounted to a violation of Second Amendment rights on public lands, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported.

Judge Lansing Haynes, of the First Judicial District Court in Bonner County, found Bonner County and Wheeler lacked standing to bring the case to trial, the release said.

Following Haynes’ decision, the city sought $94,907 in attorney fees and $1,206 in court costs from the county. Four attorneys and one paralegal spent roughly 500 hours combined working on the case, the Daily Bee reported.

Haynes believed fewer billable hours could have achieved the same result and, Sept. 2 last year, decided Bonner County would pay the City of Sandpoint $71,000 in lawyer’s fees.

“Taxpayers will be reimbursed the majority of the costs incurred for the city to defend itself in a case that should never been (sic) filed,” Mayor Shelby Rognstad said in the city’s news release. “They would have ultimately lost the appeal and cost taxpayers even more.”

Rognstad said in the release he looks forward to working with Bonner County Commissioners, “in a productive manner to proactively and positively address other pressing issues,” pointing to growth in local tourism as a top priority.

The City of Sandpoint and Bonner County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for interviews.

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