COEUR d’ALENE — No more jokes, not on Thursday anyway.
Things returned to normal on the fourth day of the election challenge trial — that’s to say, chippy.
It’s challenger Jim Brannon vs. incumbent Mike Kennedy for the seat 2 City Council seat in the courtroom and a verbal exchange between a pair of attorneys during testimony caused First District Judge Charles Hosack to interrupt the back and forth by saying stop it already.
“I’m well aware the counsels can’t stand each other,” the judge said, seemingly frustrated that he had to remind them that the chest bumping wouldn’t factor into a decision based on facts. “It makes absolutely no difference with me.”
The exchange happened when Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Mike Gridley was on the stand. Brannon’s attorney, Starr Kelso, was asking Gridley a line of questions that had to do with Gridley’s contact with Kennedy’s attorneys during the months of pending litigation.
The city’s correspondence with the defendant’s side was allegedly more so than Brannon’s, Kelso said, stating that wasn’t neutral for a city attorney.
The judge called the tone of the questioning argumentative.
Gridley said no, the city had defendants named and needed to defend them but the questions seemed to attempt to illustrate that Brannon’s side had been stonewalled during the investigation. Kelso even asked Gridley if he contributed to Kennedy’s campaign fund during the incumbent’s bid for re-election.
That drew objections.
But during the testimony Kelso and Gridley were shoulder to shoulder at the stand looking over the same document at one point.
Kelso looked up suddenly and said: “Let the record show the witness said if you have anything else, you can shove it up your ass.”
That’s when Hosack interjected. He also told Kelso to stop that line of questioning.
Gridley, outside the courtroom, said that wasn’t exactly the exchange the two attorneys had. He said he told Kelso in unspecified terms to stop the behavior during the questioning, adding that Kelso had tossed one of the paper exhibits at him instead of just handing it.
“You don’t treat a witness that way,” Gridley said. - Tom Hasslinger