Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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Defendant-appellant Tom Katsilometes challenged the Idaho Senate’s order granting over $18,000 in attorney fees to Senator W. Marcus Nye, awarded after Nye prevailed against Katsilometes in a contest over the results of the 2016 general election. The Senate confirmed Nye’s election and awarded him costs and attorney fees. Because Katsilometes refused to pay the attorney fees, Nye brought an action in district court seeking a declaratory judgment ordering Katsilometes to pay him the amount ordered by the Senate. The district court granted the declaratory judgment and further awarded Nye costs, attorney fees, and prejudgment interest. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Senate did not have the authority to award attorney fees to Nye at the time of the election contest. Nye was not entitled to recover his litigation costs, attorney fees, and prejudgment interest in the district court action. Therefore, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order enforcing the award of attorney fees to Nye pursuant to the order of the Idaho Senate, and vacated all costs, attorney fees, and prejudgment interest awarded to Nye by the district court. Neither side was entitled to attorney fees on appeal; however, as the prevailing party, Katsilometes was entitled to his costs on appeal. View "Nye v. Katsilometes" on Justia Law

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Phil Hart appealed a district court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing his action contesting the results of a primary election for a State legislative seat. The district court ruled Hart had failed to demonstrate that any irregularities in the election were “sufficient to change the result” - an essential component of an election challenge under the Elections Contests Act, Idaho Code sections 34-2101–34-3128. Hart appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hart v. Idaho Secretary of State" on Justia Law

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This case appealed a district court's denial of Petitioner Jim Brannon's election contest of the Coeur d'Alene city council election in 2009. In the official vote total, Brannon lost the election for seat 2 of the city council to Mike Kennedy by five votes. Brannon then filed an election contest that alleged numerous irregularities and sought to set aside, void, or annul the election. After a bench trial, the district court issued a memorandum decision that affirmed the election result, finding insufficient illegal votes or irregularities to change the outcome of the election. On appeal, Brannon argued that the City delegated its election duties to Kootenai County in contravention of Idaho law, that the district court made numerous factual and legal errors at trial, and that the district court erred in denying Brannon's motion to disqualify and motion for new trial. Upon review and finding no error, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court. View "Brannon v. City of Coeur D'Alene" on Justia Law

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The constitutionality of "Plan L 87," a legislative redistricting plan adopted by the Commission on Redistricting for reapportionment, was challenged and brought before the Supreme Court. Upon review, the Court found that the Plan complied with the strictures of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause of the federal constitution. However, the Plan did not comply with Article III, section 5 of the Idaho Constitution in that it did not "divide counties only to the extent that [they] must be divided to comply with the Federal Constitution." Furthermore, the Plan did not "avoid dividing counties whenever possible in violation of Idaho Code section 72-1506(5)." The Court did not order the Commission to adopt any one redistricting plan: "The commission certainly has the discretion to reject plans that have been submitted and draw boundaries in another manner that complies with both Constitutions." The Court directed the commission to reconvene and adopt a revised plan. View "Twin Falls County v. Idaho Commission on Redistricting" on Justia Law