By Lyndsie Kiebert
Bonner County plans to continue its legal battle against the city of Sandpoint over The Festival at Sandpoint’s policy to ban guns with an appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court — a course of action unchanged even after a district judge announced last week that the county would need to repay Sandpoint $70,000 in costs and fees accrued during the more-than-yearlong lawsuit.
Attorney Amy Clemmons of Davillier Law Group, which represents Bonner County in the case, said an appeal is necessary to encourage the courts to make a ruling on “whether the city can legally allow a lessee to ban firearms at a public park.”
“Absent a court decision on this issue, protests of the gun ban are anticipated,” Clemmons told the Sandpoint Reader in an email Dec. 16.
Fear of an impending protest at The Festival gates was a major theme in the county’s legal arguments throughout the case, alleging that without action from the court, pro-gun activists could bring protests to the concert venue at War Memorial Field and violence might ensue. Kootenai County District Court Judge Lansing L. Haynes ruled Sept. 2 that Bonner County’s arguments were “at best, vague and speculative” and that the county lacked standing in the case. Haynes also ruled in favor of Sandpoint on Dec. 9, when he partially granted the city’s request for costs and fees.
Clemmons said Haynes’ ruling wouldn’t change the county’s complaint moving forward with the appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court.
“The court’s decision on standing prevented a ruling on the underlying merits of this matter leaving both parties with uncertainty on the lawful manner for The Festival to proceed,” she told the Reader. “For events to go forward peacefully without a protest, clarity on the law is desired and is being sought in the appeal process.”
There are currently no court dates set in the appeal of the case.
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