Mark Patterson makes damage claim against Ada County Sheriff Raney

Former Rep. Mark Patterson is taking a necessary step to sue Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney following the sheriff’s decision to strip Patterson of his concealed weapons license last year.

Last month, Patterson filed a Notice of Claim under the Idaho Tort Claim Act, which requires any claims against the state or its political subdivisions be made before filing a lawsuit. That gives the state and local governments time to assess their risk and possibly settle cases without a lawsuit. If no settlement is made, the person may sue.

Shortly after news broke in November that the Boise GOP lawmaker had lost his license for failing to disclose his withheld judgment related to his pleading guilty to assault with intent to commit rape in 1974, Patterson told 580 KIDO radio he was preparing to sue Raney. Under pressure from the Republican Party, Patterson resigned in January.

Patterson has said Raney broke the law when he told the Statesman he’d revoked Patterson’s license, but the specifics of Patterson’s claim are fuzzy.

On March 5, lawyer James Jacobson of Meridian wrote Ada County Clerk Chris Rich saying he was filing a claim on Patterson’s behalf against Raney, citing Title 18 of the Idaho Code, the 800-page, 86-chapter compendium of state crimes and punishments.

Jacobson said Patterson’s loss occurred Oct. 31. That was the day Patterson met with the Statesman and provided a copy of Raney’s May 22 letter notifying Patterson he was initiating proceedings to revoke the license.

“Pursuant to Idaho Code 6-905, enclosed please find a Notice of Claim that we are submitting on behalf of our client, Mark Patterson, based on the the (sic) Ada County Sheriff’s violation of I.C. 18,” wrote Jacobson. “We are still in the process of obtaining claim support documentation. We will submit additional information upon receipt.”

At the Statesman’s request, Rich provided a copy of Jacobson’s letter last week, but said no enclosure was provided. The clerk’s office followed up with Patterson and Jacobson asking if more information would be forthcoming. “They said, ‘No, that’s it,’” said Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane on Monday.

After six days of trying to contact Jacobson by email and voicemail, I finally reached him by phone Monday afternoon. I asked about the absence of an enclosure but Jacobson declined comment.

“I’m not going to provide any information period, end of story,” Jacobson replied.

Patterson himself did not reply to repeated requests for comment. Neither did two Boise attorneys who also have represented Patterson in his dispute with Raney, Wade Woodard and Alexandria Kincaid. Woodward wrote Raney on Patterson’s behalf Nov. 12, telling the sheriff to preserve any relevant documents or other information related to “a possible lawsuit against the Ada County Sheriff’s Department.” The Statesman received a similar letter.

Raney’s spokesman, Patrick Orr, said the sheriff doesn’t consider himself or Ada County vulnerable to a claim by Patterson.

I first learned of Patterson’s tort claim from a long story posted last month by Payette blogger William Norman Grigg. Grigg’s account is sympathetic to Patterson, describes Raney as “corrupt” and accuses the Statesman of coordinating with Raney to “smear” Patterson.

I won’t take the time to correct the errors in the Grigg report, other than to say Grigg’s claim of journalistic malpractice is false. As I told Grigg and he reported, “Our extensive reporting speaks for itself.”

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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