COEUR d'ALENE - The contempt of court charges are dismissed.
First District Judge Charles Hosack ruled that there wasn't reason to pursue them for document reviewer Bill McCrory on Tuesday, ending the election challenge suit in the courtroom.
"Done," Hosack said. "This needs to come to an end."
McCrory's attorney, Art Macomber, asked the judge not to dismiss the suit.
He said McCrory wished to prove the claims brought against him by Mike Kennedy's attorney Scott Reed were frivolous, thereby setting McCrory up to recover lawyer fees.
"It's not just the question of the money, it's a question of, 'what is justice?'" Macomber said after the judge denied his request to set the matter for trial. "If powerful people in the community can bring this type of an action and then there's no remedy, you don't even get to make your case, you don't get to defend? He's being punished."
Macomber said the attorney fees are upward of $10,000.
Seat 2 City Council incumbent Mike Kennedy accused McCrory in early August of violating a court ordered confidentiality agreement tied to the election challenge suit between Kennedy and City Council challenger Jim Brannon after McCrory filed an affidavit in July detailing some of the 877 anomalies he said he found reviewing absentee envelopes.
Filing the affidavit was the first violation, the original complaint said, and the second was posting the affidavit online afterward. Each charge at the time carried up to $5,000 in fines.
The matter won't go any further, Hosack said.
The judge refused to dismiss the suit in August, since he wasn't sure what part the affidavit would play in the election suit, or whether McCrory would testify.
The affidavit ended up not playing a part in the trial and McCrory never testified, which led to the dismissal.
"Why in heaven's name was the affidavit filed?" Hosack asked. "It was never mentioned in the proceedings."
But Macomber said the charges were "baseless, meritless, and should never have been brought in the first place." That the judge didn't dismiss them from the onset, and wouldn't allow McCrory to defend his position in court would ultimately saddle his client with the fees.
That "SLAPP suit" (strategic lawsuit against public participation) still punishes McCrory, Macomber said, and was filed to deter McCrory "from getting involved in future elections."
Reed said that wasn't true. He said the case should have been dismissed once McCrory's affidavit didn't play a part in the election suit.
"Absolutely nothing to do with this process whatsoever," Reed said of the SLAPP suit accusation "Absolutely, totally irrelevant. He paid an attorney to represent him and at this point he doesn't have to go through an action."