Saturday, December 02, 2023

Motion to dismiss filed against clerk's request for judicial review

Staff Writer | October 13, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — The Bonner County Fair Board has filed a motion to dismiss a request for judicial review after Bonner County Clerk Mike Rosedale said the board did not respond to two public records requests in a timely manner.

Rosedale’s request for judicial review came after he claimed the fair board ignored two public records requests that he submitted on Aug. 8 and Aug. 9. Both records requests involved monies received and expended from various fair board accounts from 2010 to the present.

According to Rosedale’s petition, the three-day response deadline required by Idaho Code came and went with no response to either public records request. The deputy clerk sent inquiries to Scott Bauer, the fair board’s legal counsel; Eddie Gordon, board chairman; and Jody Russell, board vice chair. Bauer responded, telling the deputy clerk to prepare a “10-day,” which meant Rosedale should have received the documents — or an update on the preparation of those documents — within 10 days from the submission of his original public records requests.

However, those dates, Aug. 22 and 23, respectively, also came and went without a word on the status of those documents. After hearing nothing from the fair board about when his records would be ready, Rosedale filed the request for judicial review — the ability of the court to declare a legislative or executive act in violation of the Constitution.

As of Oct. 11, Rosedale said he has yet to hear any kind of response from the fair board.

“Not only will they not give me a response to my records request, they are moving to dismiss my only remedy, which was through my filing with the court,” Rosedale said. “They very much don't want me to know the answer to my request, it sure appears.”

On Sept. 19, the fair board’s external attorney filed a motion to dismiss Rosedale’s judicial review request on the grounds that he did not include his mailing address on the public records requests. This supposed error, according to the attorney, rendered the public records requests invalid “because the exhibits attached to the [judicial review] complaint demonstrate that [Rosedale’s] public records requests did not contain a statutorily mandated mailing address.”

Because of this, the attorney maintains the board’s decision to not respond to Rosedale’s requests as the requests are allegedly in violation of Idaho Code 74-102(4), which states that all records requests “shall provide the requester’s name, mailing address, email address and telephone number.”

This single piece of omitted information is major enough for the fair board to deny Rosedale’s public records requests because they did not meet lawful requirements, the fair board’s attorney said in the motion to dismiss the complaint.

“According to the authorities provided above, a failure to comply with the mandatory requirements of the statute is fatal to Rosedale’s complaint and the complaint should be dismissed for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,” the motion to dismiss read.

However, the public records requests were never lawfully denied — they’ve simply been ignored, Rosedale and his attorney said.

Rosedale and his attorneys submitted a rebuttal to the motion, claiming that the refusal to respond to Rosedale solely based on his failure to provide a mailing address lacks factual merit. Rosedale’s attorneys quipped that in both of his requests, the county clerk requested electronic delivery for the records, which means his mailing address wouldn’t have been needed to fulfill either request.

Additionally, the rebuttal claims that had the fair board truly needed Rosedale’s mailing address to fulfill the requests, it would have been very easy for them to get it even without reaching out to Rosedale, especially since both the fair board and the clerk are entities of Bonner County.

“Apart from the suite number, the fair board and Rosedale share the same mailing address,” the rebuttal stated.

On top of that, the rebuttal claims that in Rosedale’s follow-up emails to the deputy clerk, which were forwarded to multiple fair board members, his mailing address is attached under his name.

And if that isn’t enough evidence for the courts to deny the motion to dismiss, the rebuttal states that if the fair board really had an issue with Rosedale’s mailing address not being on the public records requests, they should have mentioned it prior to sending a “10-day.” By the fair board giving no indication that there were any insufficiencies with Rosedale’s requests, their “10-day” email response acted as their recognition that the requests were proper per Idaho Code 74-103, the rebuttal said.

Additionally, the rebuttal states that the board’s email said a response “will be provided” in that 10-day period. However, almost two months later, Rosedale has yet to receive any correspondence from any fair board member.

Rosedale’s attorneys also claimed that Idaho Code 74-103 does not authorize any public agency to grant itself additional time to do anything except “locate or retrieve the public records.” By these laws, the board should not have been allowed to take the 10 extra days to decide to deny Rosedale’s requests, the rebuttal contends.

“The motion lacks factual or legal merit and should be denied,” Rosedale’s attorneys said.

A hearing is set to be held Oct. 16 via Zoom for both parties to state their cases. The hearing will be presided over by Kootenai County Judge John Mitchell. It is unknown if the hearing will be open to the public.

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