In March of this year, Mike Satz of “The Idaho 97%” asked the Attorney General’s office to investigate several actions conducted by Ada County Commissioner Ryan Davidson (R).
The group alleged that Davidson had potentially violated the law by improperly using his position as a commissioner to influence Judge David Manweiler on behalf of two individuals scheduled for trial on March 15. They filed their first complaint based on that incident. The Idaho 97% also alleged that Davidson had entered the judge’s chambers to request a pre-release document and filed a second complaint based on that alleged instance.
The AG’s office investigated both claims and found no criminal misconduct but found the issue “disconcerting” and said they recommended to the Ada County Prosecutor that Davidson receive training on dealing with the judiciary.
The first incident in question was regarding Ammon Bundy and one other defendant scheduled to appear for trial on March 15.
At the time, the court was requiring individuals entering the facility to wear a face covering. Both defendants went to the Ada County Courthouse but refused to wear a face covering. Arrest warrants were issued for them on a “Failure to Appear” charge.
The crowd outside the building was angry that Bundy and the other defendant were not allowed into the courtroom, and that’s when Davidson says he tried to talk to the judge to see if there was a way to accommodate the defendant’s refusal to wear a face-covering so the trial could continue. At the time, Davidson said he was concerned about a peaceful resolution and was trying to figure out a path forward.
At the time Davidson had made his request, according to the AG’s letter, the jury had already been released, and most people had left the courtroom other than a few individuals who the AG’s office also interviewed in their investigation.
During their investigation, some witnesses told the AG’s office they did not feel Davidson’s request was appropriate. However, the AG’s office also said that none of the witnesses felt Davidson was trying to use his position as a commissioner to influence the judge.
Yesterday, the AG’s office responded to Satz, and you can read the entirety of the AG’s response to him at the end of this article.
The AG’s office concluded on the first complaint against Davidson and their decision not to file criminal charges:
Despite our decision not to file criminal charges, this office does not condone Commissioner Davidson’s conduct. The Idaho Criminal Rules govern the procedure of all criminal cases in Idaho, including who can be heard and the proper form of communications with the court. This office is unaware of any rule that would allow a county commissioner to involve himself in a pending criminal case, regardless of his motivations. Moreover, such actions put a judge presiding over a case in a difficult position given the judge’s obligations under the Idaho Code of Judicial Conduct.
On the second claim, the AG’s office said that Davidson never entered the judge’s chambers and asked for a form that was part of the public record. They conclude that Davidson should have gone through the proper records request procedure, but his actions were not illegal.
Here is what the AG’s letter said, in part, on the second claim,
With regard to the second instance you raised, Commissioner Davidson’s request for a public record did not violate Idaho Code 18-1353 or 31-855. The request was not accompanied by a threat, did not occur in private, and does not appear to involve an attempt to influence Judge Manweiller’s decision, opinion, or other exercise of discretion.
The Idaho 97% posted the following response to the letter on Twitter to the AG’s letter:
Satz also responded on Twitter with the following post:
Idaho Dispatch reached out to Davidson to get his response to the AG’s letter. At this time, Davidson has not responded.
What do you think of Davidson’s actions and the AG’s response to the allegations against him?
Let us know in the comments below.
The following letter is the entire response from the AG’s office to Satz:
Tags: Ada County, Ammon Bundy, Attorney General, David Manweiler, Idaho 97%, Mike Satz, Ryan Davidson