City argues for fees, costs in Festival gun lawsuit

City argues for fees, costs in Festival gun lawsuit

SANDPOINT — First District Judge Lansing Haynes took under advisement Tuesday arguments over legal fees the city is seeking from Bonner County after prevailing in a legal action involving a firearms prohibition during the annual Festival at Sandpoint concert series. Peter Erbland, counsel for the city, argued Sandpoint should be awarded $92,759 in attorney fees and $2,148 in court costs as a matter of law. Erbland based the argument on a section of Idaho Code which holds that reasonable fees and costs shall be awarded to the prevailing party when governmental entities clash in court. "We are the prevailing party," said Erbland, who participated in the hearing via videoconferencing. Erbland said the legislative intent of the code section is meant to discourage one governmental subdivision from using taxpayer dollars to go after another. "They wanted to stick their nose in the business of the city of Sandpoint," said Erbland, who called the county’s quest for declaratory judgment in the dispute a "fool’s errand." The city became the target of the county’s litigation because it leases War Memorial Field to the nonprofit Festival so it can stage its annual waterfront concert series. Idaho law forbids the curtailment of Second Amendment rights on public lands. The city contends the Festival, as a lessee, has the right to draft its own security policies when it rents the field. The Festival said it began enforcing the firearms prohibition in order to meet contractual obligations of artists who perform during the event. Haynes ruled […]

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