Idaho Dispatch

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Judge Throws Out Bonner County 2nd Amendment Lawsuit Against Sandpoint

By • September 3, 2020

For months now Bonner County has been working on a lawsuit against the city of Sandpoint.

The commissioners and the sheriff of Bonner County filed the suit from an event that occurred last year. In 2019, an event called The Festival at Sandpoint was held in a city park in Sandpoint. The event is run by a non-profit organization of the same name as the event.

The county filed a suit against the city citing concerns that if the judge did not rule in the right direction, it could cause more problems in the future.

Yesterday, the judge in the case, Lansing Haynes,  threw out the lawsuit from the county against the city.

In an opinion released from the judge, he mentions several reasons that the suit was thrown out. Primarily, the judge said that the county lacked standing in the case.

Here is some of what the judge had to say in his six-page opinion on the case,

…this court concludes that Plaintiff has not established standing to bring instant lawsuit. This court is aware of parallel litigation brought by individual citizens who were denied entry into the 2019 festival because their demand to do so while having a firearm on their person. Whether these individuals have standing and the issue of mootness remains to be seen based on future possible motion practice in that lawsuit.

The judge is referring to another lawsuit against both the city of Sandpoint and The Festival at Sandpoint from two citizens, Scott Herndon and Jeff Avery. Both citizens recorded their encounter at the festival where they were open carrying a firearm and were denied entry into the venue.

The suit is brought by the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance and the Second Amendment Foundation. Herndon and Avery are both members of the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance.

While the county suit has been thrown out, a trial has been set for the Herndon/Avery lawsuit in February of 2021.

Judge Haynes concluded in his opinion of the county suit,

Since Plaintiff has failed to establish standing by way of injury in fact or future injury, Plaintiff’s interest in the City’s lease with the Festival is reduced to the generalized interest of all citizens of constitutional governance.

In other words, the judge felt that the sheriff’s case (Sheriff Wheeler) was too broad and that he lacked specific “injuries” to bring standing.

As of today, the county has spent over $100,000 on the suit and the city has spent approximately $100,000 as well.

At least one of the commissioners in Bonner County disagreed with the decision, Commissioner Dan McDonald. McDonald also said the county is considering a possible appeal.

He told Idaho Dispatch in a message,

Not ruling on the merits of the case and instead used a parlor trick of throwing this out on Standing doesn’t provide the proper remedy that two governmental entities who disagree on a law are entitled to. The judge in this case clearly did not help either the City or the County nor the citizens in this case and has effectively left us in limbo while also creating additional liability for all parties involved. Declaratory judgment are a standard tool to assist governmental agencies in determining the proper interpretation of laws.

In my opinion, this was a failure of our judicial system at the District level to rule on the law. Instead, we still have no ruling to hang our hat on but instead are left being in the same place we were a year ago. We will be meeting to discuss an appeal as we still have no real determination.

We have also reached out to Sheriff Wheeler who is a Plaintiff in the case. He has not yet responded to our request for comment but we will update the article if he does.

The city of Sandpoint said in a press release that,

We are pleased with the decision of Judge Haynes. It has been the position of the city from the very beginning the county and Sheriff Wheeler did not have standing in this matter.

Do you believe the judge did the right thing or do you believe that he should have let the case move forward?

Let us know in the comments below.


Tags: 2nd Amendment, Bonner County, Jeff Avery, Sandpoint, Scott Herndon, The Festival at Sandpoint

4 thoughts on “Judge Throws Out Bonner County 2nd Amendment Lawsuit Against Sandpoint

  1. It seems to me, that as the elected senior law enforcement officer for the county in which the event occurred, who has jurisdiction including the city, the sheriff prima facia has standing.
    First, the sheriff needs to have clarity of the law to be enforced going forward.
    Second, the sheriff must actively defend the enumerated rights of citizen constituents.
    Third, the sheriff is ultimately responsible for the legal operation of corporations (cities) within his/her jurisdiction.
    It is within that third context that this lawsuit has been conceived.

    I think the Sheriff had better appeal this decision, because it sets a dangerous president that cities can ignore state/federal; law, constitutions and citizens rights with impunity because the Sheriff won’t have ‘standing’ to contest such behavior.

  2. This judge took the easy road. He was paid off. Guaranteed. These are deeply rooted issues and it it obvious he couldnt and or wouldnt do his due diligence and job. Its all about money and exhasting it so it will just go away.

  3. Maybe the Sheriff should arrest those enforcing unconstitutional mandates on the spot. Then, Judges like this won’t have an opportunity to kick the can down the road. Spineless POS!

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