COEUR d'ALENE - The election trial comes first.
After that, the court will take up whether Bill McCrory violated a court order and should be held in contempt, 1st District Judge Charles Hosack ruled on Tuesday.
"That should be the focus," Hosack said of the general election challenge suit, with trial scheduled to begin Sept. 13. The contempt of court issue "isn't as important as the court decides the election issues."
McCrory pleaded not guilty to the contempt charges on Tuesday. That trial has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 17, a day after the election suit is scheduled to wrap up. If he's found guilty on the two accusations, he could face up to $10,000 in civil fines.
Seat 2 City Council incumbent Mike Kennedy is accusing McCrory of violating a court ordered confidentiality agreement after McCrory filed an affidavit in July detailing some of the 877 anomalies he said he found after reviewing absentee envelopes.
Filing the affidavit was the first violation, Kennedy's attorney Scott Reed argued Tuesday, and the second was posting the affidavit online afterward. Each charge carries up to $5,000 in fines.
But before the court gets that far, it has a summary judgment hearing to possibly dismiss the election case entirely on Aug. 31. If the case continues after that, it will go to trial.
Hosack said he didn't want to complicate the suit that's nearing a year in the making by weighing in on the contempt case.
"There's a lot going on with the election case," he said.
McCrory's attorney, Arthur Macomber, said McCrory didn't violate the order. Filing an affidavit, which was about absentee envelopes and not the ballots, wasn't against the rules, and the two charges are "entirely frivolous," he said.
"There was no order of the court," Macomber said, adding that Kennedy was "dragging" an outside party into the suit. "I don't know why we're at this point."
Once the affidavit was filed it became public record, and The Press published articles about its details, revealing voter identifications. The confidentiality agreement McCrory signed said he would not discuss "any information" he observed, according to a copy of the signed document in court files.