[Vision2020] School District Files Legal Response to Lawsuit

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Sat May 19 08:45:19 PDT 2007

>From today's (May 19, 2007) Moscow-Pullman Daily News -


School district files legal response to lawsuit
MSD outlines defense, seeks dismissal of suit filed by Weitz 

By Kate Baldwin, Daily News staff writer

Saturday, May 19, 2007 - Page Updated at 12:00:00 AM

The Moscow School District filed a legal answer Thursday that poses 18
defenses and asks for dismissal of a lawsuit that challenges up to $7.6
million in indefinite supplemental levy funding.

Moscow dentist Gerald Weitz filed the lawsuit against the district May 3 in
Latah County District Court. His lawsuit contends that the district's
indefinite levy - approved by voters in 1992 - should be invalid because the
election allegedly did not meet the statutory requirements of Idaho law. He
also argues that any subsequent levy increases that followed the 1992
election should be invalid. This includes the $1.97 million increase that
voters approved March 27.

The main point of the answer to the lawsuit is simple, said the district's
attorney Brian Julian, of Boise-firm Anderson, Julian and Hull, LLP.

"You can't wait 10 to 15 years to complain about an election," he said.

Elections have to be contested in "a very narrow time frame," Julian said.

Weitz's suit covers multiple elections from 1992 to 2007 but Julian contends
only the 2007 election falls within the state's 40-day requirement for
challenging elections. Even at that, Julian argues that Weitz may not have
met the state's requirements because he alleges that Weitz didn't use the
proper statute to contest the election.

"This is a very technical area of law," said Julian, who described the
district's response to the lawsuit as "comprehensive" because it uses all of
the statutory and common law defenses available.

Julian said the Legislature has created certain methods to contest elections
but a person has to strictly comply with every requirement in order to do
so. Otherwise allowing deviations from the requirements - like the time
element - would disenfranchise voters, he said.

Voting "is perhaps our most fundamental right that we enjoy as citizens," he
said. "It is an interesting thing No one likes to have their vote thrown out
in any manner."

Beyond legal minutiae, Julian disagrees with the premise of the suit.

"We believe the bond election was absolutely properly put before the public
and there is nothing inherently wrong with the method used," he said.

Julian said the district's defense focuses mainly on opposing the
injunction, claiming different statutory defenses and raising the question
of whether Weitz had appropriate standing to bring the lawsuit.

Weitz did not return repeated calls seeking comment. His attorney, Brian
Thie, of Moscow, could not be reached for comment.

In other developments, the school district has frozen its budget while the
legal proceedings edge forward. A court date has not yet been set, although
Julian expects the case to move forward on a rapid trial schedule.

Julian said he's waiting for the assignment of a new judge after Latah
County District Court Judge John Stegner recused himself from the case late

Though community members have begun asking about the possibility of
mediation, Julian said he didn't expect it to happen.

"I don't think this is the type of case where mediation would really work,"
he said.

Julian said there have been no discussions of it, but the lawsuit has just


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

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