Sandpoint police arrest Dave Bowman outside the Bonner County offices Feb. 6 after he refused to leave the commissioners meeting. (James Hanlon/The Spokesman-Review)

Legal Troubles for Bonner County Continue, Trespass Order Rescinded

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SANDPOINT, Idaho – After more than four months, the Bonner County commissioners voted to rescind the trespass against county resident David Bowman. The motion was made by Commissioner Asia Williams in a special meeting held the day prior to a court ruling in Bowman’s favor. The court issued Bonner County a temporarily restraining from enforcing the trespass order allowing Bowman’s attendance at Bonner County Commissioner meetings. The order was to act as a preliminary injunction in effect for 14 days.

The 2-1 decision passed without the support of Chairman Luke Omodt, after an hour-long executive session.

In a unilateral decision, Bowman was trespassed by Omodt on February 6 and was placed under citizen’s arrest after he refused to leave a commissioner board meeting. Bowman was escorted out by the Sandpoint Police, required to relinquish his firearm and other personal items, and was transported to the County jail, where he was booked and released on after paying bond.

The use of a citizen’s arrest taken by Omodt went against the legal advice from County Prosecutor Louis Marshall. “Individuals such as county commissioners, the personnel, and individual law enforcement offices can face individual Section 1983 liability for wrongfully removing a citizen for a LPF (limited public forum) public meeting.” Marshall stated and encouraged curtailing the situation.

A letter was issued by Omodt on March 15 specifying the reasons in support of the Notice of Trespass; regularly being disruptive at meetings, making threats towards and harassing county staff. It included an appeal process by submitting a written statement to the BOCC within 10 calendar days. The letter was mailed through USPS limiting Bowman’s response time.

On March 25, the appeal deadline and the day before the citizen’s arrest for criminal trespass was dismissed with prejudice, an Objection and Notice of Appeal was submitted, along with a Petition for Judicial Review and a Notice of Tort Claim seeking $1,500,000 in damages.

The Notice of Appeal objected to the process which required appealing the decision to the same body who made the decision as counter intuitive. In its conclusion, “It is also readily apparent that this instant ‘appeal’ process was concocted by Commissioners Omodt and Bradshaw to sit as judge and jury over issues related to their own malfeasance; a rubber stamp of their own biased actions – thus further evidencing the malice towards the Appellant.” Further details describe the actions of Omodt and Bradshaw as arbitrary and capricious, not supported by law, and defamatory.

A published article by local media initially reported, “According to Omodt, Bowman did not appeal the trespass,” and later made a correction to, “Due to a county error, his appeal was not recognized in the same timely manner …” An appeal hearing was never granted, leaving Bowman unheard and unrepresented. Several special meetings consisting of BOCC executive sessions were held regarding the trespass situation, but the discussion remain undisclosed.

The Notice of Tort Claim specifies the City of Sandpoint, Commissioners Omodt and Bradshaw with a note that Omodt will be named in his personal capacity as well, for “battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, and/or negligent infliction of emotion distress inflicted on David Bowman.”

It goes on to cite violations of Bowman’s civil right under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments as well as numerous Articles of the Idaho Constitution. It describes the results of these actions as “reckless indifference of Mr. Bowman’s rights; and, a wholesale intent to intentionally and maliciously deprive him of his civil rights.”