Cd'A seeks fees from Brannon - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Cd'A seeks fees from Brannon

City Council could decide Tuesday about paying Kennedy's fees

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Posted: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - The city of Coeur d'Alene is seeking around $36,000 in legal fees and costs from 2009 general election challenger Jim Brannon.

Brannon has objected, claiming that the city doesn't have the legal grounds to request money from him since the election challenge wasn't frivolous.

Meanwhile, the Coeur d'Alene City Council may take action next week on whether the city will pay around $105,000 for Seat 2 incumbent Mike Kennedy's legal fees.

All could be decided Tuesday.

"We were dismissed and brought back on one claim that required the plaintiff prove there was illegality in the canvassing of the votes," said Mike Haman, attorney representing the city. "There was no evidence showing that."

Brannon had challenged the Nov. 3 2009, election on grounds that illegal ballots had been cast, and sought a new election. The suit lasted nearly a year in the courtroom, and after a six-day trial, illegal votes for Brannon and Kennedy were tossed, leaving the incumbent winning by three votes.

To seek fees after a ruling, however, attorneys must prove that the case was frivolous. Kennedy's counsel doesn't think that's a likely stance to take with 1st District Judge Benjamin Simpson.

The city does.

It was brought back in as a possible remedy provider, should misconduct amount to a new election, which didn't happen.

But also set to go before Simpson at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Kootenai County Courthouse is a motion for a new trial or to vacate the judgment.

Brannon's attorney, Starr Kelso, filed reports that state erroneous determinations were made by the court that contributed to the ruling, such as when the court didn't shift the burden of proof to the defendant after reports were introduced in court that showed a different number of absentee ballots were documented (2,041) other than what the machines had counted on election night (2,051).

Kelso declined to comment before the hearing, but referred to the court filings.

Another report filed for the judge to consider is a previous court case that ruled a Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee voter's absentee ballot rights only counted for federal elections.

That divide was a central point during the election, and its verdict helped Kennedy win.

The bond amount to go to trial was originally set at $40,000, before being trimmed to $5,000. When it was posted at $40,000, Brannon filed in court that he could not pay. Kelso said Brannon shouldn't have to pay $36,000 either.

"The election contest was not brought, pursed, or defended frivolously, unreasonably, or without foundation," a court filing states.

Should the City Council take up Kennedy's fees at 6 p.m. Tuesday during the City Council meeting, it could be an agenda item open to the public, said city attorney Mike Gridley. The meeting schedule hasn't been finished. Litigation issues are usually reserved for executive session - closed to the public - but the high profile nature of the case could warrant public discussion, he said.

Kelso has also appealed the court ruling to the Idaho Supreme Court.

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  • stebbijo posted at 8:56 pm on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    stebbijo Posts: 49

    I am pretty sure the CDAPress is incorrect in this statement and other parts of this article, "But also set to go before Simpson at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Kootenai County Courthouse is a motion for a new trial or to vacate the judgment."

    The case is still before Judge Hosack. Judge Simpson recused himself - for unknown reasons - remember?

  • Dan Gookin posted at 10:32 am on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    Dan Gookin Posts: 729

    If the City is going after Brannon to pay the $36,000, then the city obviously believes that the lawsuit was frivolous (despite the ruling by the judge). If that holds, then the City should wait on reimbursing Kennedy to see whether a judge orders Brannon to pay the $36,000. If he does, then Kennedy has every right to go after his $105,000 from Brannon as well. So, logically, the City should refrain from reimbursing Kennedy until the judge determines whether Brannon owes the City $36,000.

    It's an interesting knot they've tied themselves into.

    (This is what happens when various Departments at City Hall don't communicate with each other.)

  • bkemdanno posted at 10:21 am on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    bkemdanno Posts: 259

    stop being so idealistic on this -brannon should have just walked away after he lost the election. i think now he just needs to go seek legal advice from mr. hart on how not to pay your way in society.

  • DeNiles posted at 8:46 am on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    Anyone dare to bet on how these issues will go? I'd sooner wager that the Press already has the follow-up story written. "IT'S UNANIMOUS", the headline will read. "Brannon gets skewered and Fatboy gets his refund."

    This is your city folks. Your property values have plummeted but your property taxes go up. Millions upon millions of your tax $$$ is siphoned away to an agency selected and run by by an elite corps of people who seem to be doing extraordinarily well during these extremely hard times. Funny how that works isn't it?

  • sharetheplanet posted at 6:46 am on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    sharetheplanet Posts: 809

    I would like to see Brannon keep going. Then we will know what mikey, CdA city council, mayor and LCDC are hiding.

    They OBVIOUSLY do not want us to know.

  • sharetheplanet posted at 6:31 am on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    sharetheplanet Posts: 809

    Ok citizens, This is obviously a SLAPP suit trying to silence Brannon so he cannot proceed any farther.

    It is TIME to shut this arrogant city government DOWN.

    PLEASE people take a STAND. They do not want ANYONE questioning their authority.

    It is your RIGHT to question.

  • uncle fester posted at 6:19 am on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    uncle fester Posts: 831

    The UN idea is a good one, Idaho acts like a third world country.

  • local res posted at 5:26 am on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    local res Posts: 1165

    You would think that the election being within 3 votes would trigger an automatic recount. Why are there 10 missing absentee ballots? Were they misplace or taken? How in the H*LL do we trust the local elections office? I think we need the UN to be here monitoring our elections to ensure fairness.

  • TakeBackTheUSA posted at 5:01 am on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    TakeBackTheUSA Posts: 765

    Abso-fricken-lutely. Go after this schlep for every nickel. And why should Kennedy get to pick his own attorneys and then expect the taxpayer to foot the bill? Only the city attorney should defend city elections. Kennedy shouldn't have even been involved. All these idiots think the world owes them whatever they want and then expect the taxpayer to pay for it.

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