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Election challenge has court date set

by Tom Hasslinger
| June 15, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - The election challenge suit has been set for trial.

First District Judge Charles Hosack scheduled the case on Monday for Sept. 13, saying a date needed to be placed to encourage an end goal on what has turned into a lengthy court process.

"I think having a trial date is pretty necessary," Hosack said of the timeliness of the election challenge, which is in its seventh month.

Hosack also denied several motions filed by attorney Starr Kelso, including refusing to amend the complaint to include malconduct by the city for possible voting irregularities.

Hosack said Kelso, who is representing seat 2 challenger Jim Brannon, could amend the complaint later should Kelso find legal reason to include malconduct down the line, but for now not enough proof is there to warrant a change.

"There isn't anything there," Hosack said, adding that possible errors in conducting an election don't amount to malconduct.

Instead both counsels should prepare for trial come September.

Brannon is challenging the November 2009 general election and incumbent Mike Kennedy on grounds that inadmissible votes had been cast in Brannon's five-vote loss.

Hosack did compel Kelso to turn over his documents and findings to the defendants by July 9. In turn, Kootenai County should turn over the rest of the documents Kelso requested by June 25.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said outside the courtroom the county wouldn't have a problem meeting that deadline.

The judge also denied Kelso's motion on behalf of Bill and Elizabeth McCrory to intervene on the suit. The couple was attempting to intervene in support of the challenge as voters of Coeur d'Alene.

The McCrorys didn't fit in the suit's plans as far as potential damage or possible remedies go, the judge said.

"What's the difference," Hosack said of their role in the courtroom. "You have to allege something to me that makes a difference."

Hosack denied Kelso's request for an interlocutory appeal on both the malconduct denial, and the judge's denial of including Mr. and Mrs. McCrory. An interlocutory is an appeal of a ruling by a court to the Idaho Supreme Court that is made before the trial itself has concluded.

Hosack said it was too uncertain what timetable or ruling the Supreme Court would issue, so it was better to move the case along at the district level since it has come this far.

Kelso said after the ruling he was still unsure of whether he would appeal that decision to the Supreme Court.

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