Articles Posted in Election Law

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On May 15, 2012, Karl H. Lewies won the primary election for the position of Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney. Because he had no opponent in the general election, he knew he would be elected as the prosecuting attorney, and he was. He was scheduled to be sworn into office on January 14, 2013. On November 23, 2012, he filed two petitions for review against the county commissioners of Fremont County. One petition for review was on behalf of Flying "A"Ranch, Inc., and others, and the other petition was on behalf of E. C. Gwaltney, III. The petitions sought to overturn the designation by the county commissioners of certain roads as being public roads rather than private roads. In early 2013, the county commissioners, represented by Blake Hall, the deputy prosecutor hired by the prosecutor that Lewies had defeated in the primary, filed motions in both cases seeking to have Lewies disqualified from representing the petitioners in those cases. Lewies filed motions in both cases to withdraw as counsel for the petitioners. In each of the cases, Lewies had named two of the commissioners in both their official and individual capacities. The commissioners filed motions in both cases to dismiss the actions against them in their individual capacities. Substitution counsel entered appearances for the county commissioners in both cases. The court made preliminary rulings that Lewies could not represent any parties in the two cases; that the county would be awarded attorney fees against him personally for having to file the motion to disqualify; that an action against the two commissioners in their individual capacities could not be joined with a petition for judicial review; and that attorney fees would not be awarded against Lewies for having named them in their individual capacities. During the hearing, Lewies contended that substitution counsel should have been disqualified from representing the commissioners and that a deputy prosecutor should represent them. Ultimately the trial court entered a written order affirming its preliminary rulings. After several hearings, the court entered its memorandum decision in both cases awarding the county attorney fees in the sum of $1,185.00 against Mr. Lewies personally pursuant to Rule 11(a)(1), and Lewies appealed. Because there was no legal basis for the award, the Supreme Court reversed. View "Lewies v. Fremont County" on Justia Law

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The issue before the Supreme Court in this case related to the service of four members of the Board of Directors for the Southern Valley County Recreation District. The State brought usurpation actions against Donald Keithly, Yvette Davis, Patrick Cowles, and Michael Smith (the Directors), alleging they usurped their offices as directors of the Recreation District. The State requested they be removed from office and sought a fine against each of them. Upon the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court ruled that this action was an election contest, rather than a usurpation action, which could be brought by the State. The district court also ruled that the Directors' actions while in office were protected by the de facto officer doctrine. The State appealed, arguing this was a proper usurpation action and the de facto officer doctrine did not apply. The Directors cross-appealed, arguing they are entitled to attorney fees. The Supreme Court concluded the matter was moot and affirmed the district court's order denying attorney fees. View "Idaho v. Keithly" on Justia Law

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This case appealed a district court's denial of Petitioner Jim Brannon's election contest of the Coeur d'Alene city council election in 2009. In the official vote total, Brannon lost the election for seat 2 of the city council to Mike Kennedy by five votes. Brannon then filed an election contest that alleged numerous irregularities and sought to set aside, void, or annul the election. After a bench trial, the district court issued a memorandum decision that affirmed the election result, finding insufficient illegal votes or irregularities to change the outcome of the election. On appeal, Brannon argued that the City delegated its election duties to Kootenai County in contravention of Idaho law, that the district court made numerous factual and legal errors at trial, and that the district court erred in denying Brannon's motion to disqualify and motion for new trial. Upon review and finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court. View "Brannon v. City of Coeur D'Alene" on Justia Law

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The constitutionality of "Plan L 87," a legislative redistricting plan adopted by the Commission on Redistricting for reapportionment, was challenged and brought before the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Court found that the Plan complied with the strictures of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause of the federal constitution. However, the Plan did not comply with Article III, section 5 of the Idaho Constitution in that it did not "divide counties only to the extent that [they] must be divided to comply with the Federal Constitution." Furthermore, the Plan did not "avoid dividing counties whenever possible in violation of Idaho Code section 72-1506(5)." The Court did not order the Commission to adopt any one redistricting plan: "The commission certainly has the discretion to reject plans that have been submitted and draw boundaries in another manner that complies with both Constitutions." The Court directed the commission to reconvene and adopt a revised plan. View "Twin Falls County v. Idaho Commission on Redistricting" on Justia Law