Idaho Dispatch

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Idaho Judge Throws Out Criminal Complaint Against Commissioner for Mask Violations

By • April 13, 2021

Josh Hurley is a former Idaho State Trooper and resident of Valley County.

Back on February 8th, 2021, Hurley filed a criminal complaint against Valley County Commissioner Elting Hasbrouk.  Hasbrouk was one of the CDH board members that voted for the order to be implemented on August 11th, 2020. Hurley alleged 46 criminal violations against Hasbrouk for violating the Central District Health’s (CDH) order requiring a face covering when social distancing is not possible.

Hurley alleged 46 criminal violations against Hasbrouk for violating the Central District Health’s (CDH) order requiring a face covering when social distancing is not possible.

However, Judge Ransom Bailey thew out the criminal complaint saying there was insufficient evidence to move forward.

Idaho Dispatch was sent the original complaint and the judge’s decision, posted on February 17th, for review.

In the criminal complaint, many of the violations listed by Hurley are of Hasbrouk in videos being around other commissioners and county employees.

The videos cited by Hurley show Hasbrouk not wearing a face covering and alleged instances where he is within six feet of another person. Idaho Dispatch has no way to verify the exact distance that Hasbrouk is from the individuals in the videos.

In Bailey’s decision, however, the judge says that “co-workers” are not considered in the health order and therefore Hasbrouk would have an exemption for wearing a face-covering while doing county business if members of the public were not present.

Here is what Bailey said in the footnote on Page 1 of his decision,

“Others are present” must mean other members of the public are present and not household members or co-workers since household members are specifically excluded and since the work setting is not mentioned in the order, except for in the school context. Including co-workers as “others…present” would also make no sense, since here, co-worker exposure would be permitted, before and after public activity ceased.

The judge also said that in the videos provided by Hurley, the video angle does not provide any evidence on whether anyone else from the public was in the room at the time the video was being filmed.

Bailey also indicated in his opinion that it could be interpreted that most businesses, workplaces, and government locations are not “public places” because of the limitation on the capacity that was imposed by the order.

Here is how the CDH order defined “public spaces”:

‘Public place’ shall mean shall mean any place open to all members of the public without specific invitation, including but not necessarily limited to, retail business establishments, government offices, medical, arts, educational and recreational institutions, public transportation, including taxi cabs and ridesharing vehicles, outdoor public areas, including but not limited to public parks, trails, streets, sidewalks, lines for entry, exit, or service, when a distance of at least six feet cannot be maintained from any non-householder member.

Here is what Bailey said in the footnote on Page 7 in part:

The terms of the restriction order’s face mask requirement is ambiguous in terms of its application, in the COVID-19 context, where many stores, offices, and businesses have imposed limitations on the number of members of the public allowed in and the areas they are allowed into. Any such limitations could reasonably be viewed as not allowing “all members of the public without specific invitation.” It is also ambiguous in terms of its application in mixed use facilities, such as a courthouse, where some areas are open to the public and others are not, even in non-COVID times, not to mention the restrictions being imposed on what were formerly public access areas in courthouses and other governmental facilities

Bailey goes on to say that the ambiguity in the health order would favor the defendant if the case had moved forward.

Additionally, Bailey said that the instances observed in the videos of Hasbrouk are not in a location that would be considered open to all of the public for all of the activities that occur there. The judge said that the order was intended only to limit interactions with the general public.

Later in Bailey’s opinion, on Page 14 of the footnotes, he indicates that there was no evidence that Hasbrouk had violated any of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for helping slow the spread of COVID-19 because he did not stay near any of the co-workers for longer than 15 minutes as specified by the CDC.

In October of 2020, the CDC had defined “close contact” as more than 15-minutes (cumulative) in a single 24-hour period.

Here is what Bailey said in his opinion,

Bearing in mind that the intent of the restriction order is to reduce public COVID-19 infections, a review of the videos reveal zero “close contacts,” which the CDC defines as occurring when an infected person (or person suspected of being infected) comes within six feet of another person for at least 15 minutes. Commissioner Hasbrouck is not observed in any of the videos referenced, coming within six feet of another person for at least 15 minutes (whether it be a co-worker or a member of the public).

Bailey also states in the same footnote that the “void for vagueness” doctrine would apply here because no members of the public are present and co-workers or staff are not clearly defined in the video.

Here is how Cornell Law defines criminal “void for vagueness” (definition not used by Bailey but as researched by Idaho Dispatch):

In criminal law, a declaration that a law is invalid because it is not sufficiently clear. Laws are usually found void for vagueness if, after setting some requirement or punishment, the law does not specify what is required or what conduct is punishable.

Bailey ends his 15-page opinion by stating that there is not sufficient evidence against Hasbrouck to move the case forward.

Here is how Bailey closed his opinion,

None of the videos referenced show any encounters between Commissioner Hasbrouck and the other commissioners or staff, in the presence of members of the public. Substantial evidence is lacking concerning any such encounters. Co-worker or staff encounters alone do not clearly violate the order.

Two days after the judge released his decision, the CDH order was voted down. It is unclear what role, if any, the judge’s decision may have had in the order being rescinded.

Hasbrouck, who voted for the original order, also voted to rescind the order.

Idaho Dispatch reached out to Hasbrouck to get his comment on the judge’s decision. Here is what he sent us,

Greg, my opponent in the general election last year filed these complaints against me after watching our commissioner meetings on line.  The judge threw them out after doing a great job explaining how I was in an office type setting and wasn’t violating protocol for wearing a mask.  Hope this helps.

Hurley did run against Hasbrouck during the general election as a “write-in” candidate.

Idaho Dispatch reached out to Hurley to discuss the case and get his thoughts on the judge’s dismissal.

Hurley told Idaho Dispatch that he was glad the judge did not move the case forward. Here is what Hurley said in a statement after the judge made his decision,

I am happy to see that a judge refused to prosecute Mr. Hasbrouck and to help set a foundation for equal enforcement of the law. I hope it had something to do with the Health Board realizing the legal error in this order and withdrawing it. I’m thankful to each leader who serves on the board as they labor through trying to figure out a way to help promote the general welfare of all Idahoans through equally enforceable laws.

What do you think of the judge’s opinion on CDH’s health order?

Do you think Hasbrouck should have been prosecuted or did the judge do the right thing in throwing the case out?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Tags: Centers for Disease Control, Central District Health, Covid-19, Elting Hasbrouck, Face Covering, Josh Hurley, Ransom Bailey

10 thoughts on “Idaho Judge Throws Out Criminal Complaint Against Commissioner for Mask Violations

  1. “In Bailey’s decision, however, the judge says that “co-workers” are not considered in the health order and therefore Hasbrouk would have an exemption for wearing a face-covering while doing county business if members of the public were not present.”

    Thank goodness COVID is so smart it knows how not to infect “co-workers” or those officials doing “county business.” What an absolute crock, just like the mainstream media COVID narrative.

    Hasbrouk was one of the CDH clown board members that requested a mask mandate for Valley County, saying he’d heard from “many” businesses that wanted it.

    1. I absolutely agree with the judge’s decision to throw the case out.
      This was a clear cut case of face mask harassment and as such should be dropped.

  2. A person may choose to wear a Mask, yet mandating the wearing of Masks is illegal.
    Masks are not a registered/approved medical device.
    Our Constitution says freedom of choice.
    If anything, charges against the individuals in Central District Health that voted/advised for a Mask mandate, the Governor, etc. may need to be implemented if they went against the Constitution and broke the rules.

  3. Thanks for the write-up Greg. Good job covering the facts.
    It was really interesting that the main stream media wouldn’t touch this.

    I found the judge’s interpretations quite intriguing. I also found it interesting how in depth he went in dismantling pieces of the order. He could have used judicial restraint and stopped at any one of the lower issues. This is a clue to the people of Idaho that even the judicial branch is fed up with this nonsense.

    Elt’s response to your inquiry made me chuckle since he was seen all over Cascade without a mask as well. “Do as I say, not as I do” would have been a better response from him.

    1. Josh, did you file this before or after the election? Either way one would think that any chance of running again seems ridiculous? Keep us entertained with the comments though.

      1. This was filed well after the election. And, it was filed for the same reason that I ran as a last minute write-in. The government needs to operate within the confines of the Constitution.

        Elt Hasbrouck is a politician who wants to apply unconstitutional laws on people while he ignores those same laws. I intentionally did not file charges based on the personal accounts and video evidence of him outside the commissioner room without a mask because I intend to keep it about his government office and not him as a person.

        Elt claims to represent southern Valley County while completely ignoring us. If he wants to be a commissioner for the nice people in McCall who pay his incredible salary for his part time job he should go live there with them and run for the District 3 commissioner position.

  4. Now we have a State of “Karens” (or snitches/morons) who are “hall monitors” looking for ways to report others? We are sick of people who can’t mind their own business, but love to run other people’s lives. Covid has been a perfect excuse for these “informers” to give meaning to their pathetic lives. Sick!!!

    1. Maybe you missed the point of me filing charges against the guy who passed the law that leads to people snitching?

      I could civilly sue the state and take 2 years to prove the order the health district passed is unconstitutional for vagueness and other reasons. Or….I can ask for criminal charges for a politician violating that ‘law’ and arrive with a judges order reaching the same conclusion in 2 weeks.

      I chose the second.

  5. Smart move, Josh. It showed once again how this whole mess is just a power grab and not really about public health. What a load of BS in that judicial opinion. Rules for thee but not for me? Most places I went to this last year, including my work, people mask up to walk down an empty hallway for fear of being fired. I don’t think anyone got the memo that the Wuhan virus won’t affect you if you’re talking to a coworker. Or that it knows the difference between a public or private business. I know. It’s a SMART virus!

  6. This illustrates just how easy it has become to politically weaponize aspects of this CCP made virus against opponents in our society. That’s why it was created. This whole Covid show is a SHAM. It’s designed to tear us apart. This is straight out Tyranny vs Freedom….plain and simple. Fortunately, this judge destroyed the fascist mask mandate. Now, the proffers of maskers will have to return with more explicit language to keep the division agenda going. This is not over….but it SHOULD be!

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