If the courts won’t enforce the law, why have it?

| May 19, 2020 1:00 AM

On March 4, in the courtroom of Judge Barbara Buchanan, I witnessed what qualifies as a sham hearing.

At issue was the validity of LPOSD’s November 2019 permanent levy vote, challenged by a citizen because of the school district not following the clearly worded Idaho law which mandated disclosure on the ballot of “the estimated average annual cost to the taxpayer of the proposed levy, in the form of ‘A tax of $ per one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) of taxable assessed value, per year, based on current conditions.’” The omitted dollar amount was $214 per $100,000.

LPOSD’s position, essentially, was that the law did not require strict compliance.

Within the first three minutes of the hearing the judge basically agreed, making the following statement: “At this time I would say that I’m inclined to agree with the school district’s position.” That was before plaintiff’s and defendant’s attorneys had even begun presenting their arguments.

Sure enough, her ultimate ruling, two weeks later, corroborated the bias she expressed in the hearing; she ruled in favor of the school district.

She preferred to “adhere to one controlling principle: “Idaho courts are very reluctant to overturn the results of an election.”

In other words, she wasn’t going to rock the boat, even if it meant giving the school district a pass when it violates the law.

I’m surprised she even took the case as I see it as a conflict of interest when she has present and or past relatives working for the LPOSD.

My message to Judge Buchanan: If you don’t enforce the law, we might as well not have it.


Clark Fork