Monday, July 15, 2024

EDITORIAL: Avoid another legal misstep, NIC trustees

| July 28, 2023 1:00 AM

There’s an important lesson lurking in the Bundy & Boyles story.

According to Save NIC advocate Christa Hazel, Ammon Bundy, the anti-government, one-time gubernatorial candidate and repeat offender has been advised by North Idaho College attorney finalist Colton Boyles.

In a case brought by St. Luke’s Hospital against Bundy for harassment, jurors this week awarded the hospital a jaw-dropping $52 million judgment.

In a Tuesday email to NIC trustees that was copied to media, Hazel is calling on trustees to hire “experienced legal counsel focused on the college, not a radical agenda.”

Doing so would eliminate Boyles, she concludes.

As Hazel notes in her letter, Boyles’ background shows an absence of higher education legal experience and a proclivity toward radical political and cultural causes. NIC simply can't afford another unqualified lawyer in the wake of messes left by Art Macomber.

As just one example of a bad Boyles case gone bust, his Sandpoint-based firm represented another gubernatorial candidate — Janice McGeachin — in her attempt last year to withhold from the public important information about her education task force.

She and Boyles drew the ire of Idaho District Judge Steven Hippler in their losing case against the Idaho Press Club, costing taxpayers almost $29,000 in legal bills. According to public records, McGeachin was also personally billed $16,847.60 by Boyles Law in a separate but related matter.

But NIC doesn’t need Boise for examples of what poor decision-making linked with unqualified legal counsel can cost. Because of lawsuits and demonstrably inept leadership by NIC’s trustee majority in the past year, the college was dropped by the agency that insures many Idaho public entities. Most other potential insurers wouldn’t touch that hot spud.

Result: NIC is paying through the nose for insurance. Its 2024 budget includes an increase of half a million dollars for higher insurance costs — every penny of it unnecessary and avoidable.

With NIC's very accreditation hanging in the balance, trustees need to hire the most qualified and affordable legal counsel available. At least one strong option exists, and it is not Boyles Law.