County appeals N. Idaho judge's boat law rulingMarch 16, 2013 @ 11:45 am
SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) - Bonner County is appealing a northern Idaho magistrate court judge's ruling that the state's statute regarding the negligent operation of a vessel is unconstitutionally vague.
The Bonner County Daily Bee reports ( http://bit.ly/YDtF13) that Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Katie Murdock filed the appeal Wednesday asking a 1st District Court judge to determine if Magistrate Court Judge Debra Heise made the right decision in January.
The ruling ended up sinking two cases involving incidents law enforcement authorities say met the criteria for negligent operation of a vessel.
One involved a Seattle man, Todd Frederick Stauber, whose powerboat collided with an anchored cabin cruiser on Priest Lake on July 4 following a fireworks display. The other involved a Sandpoint man, Jonathan Richard Beckley, who crashed his powerboat into an unoccupied sailboat on Lake Pend Oreille in August.
Stauber's Sandpoint attorney, Bryce Powell, asked the charge against his client be dismissed because Idaho law doesn't expressly state what conduct is considered illegal.
In his argument, Powell cited a 1958 Idaho Supreme Court case against a motorist charged with negligent driving. The court threw out the charge after ruling the statute was unconstitutionally vague.
Powell said the language in the negligent driving law was similar to the current law involving negligent boating. Heise agreed, and dismissed the charge against Stauber in her January ruling.
In February, Heise's ruling also led to the scuttling of the negligent boating charge against Beckley. However, he still faces a charge of misdemeanor injury to a child and several violations of the Idaho Safe Boating Act.
Information from: Bonner County (Idaho) Daily Bee, http://www.bonnercountydailybee.com
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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