By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Lynn Norton voluntarily disqualified herself as judge June 15 in the St. Luke’s lawsuit involving Ammon Bundy.
Under Idaho Court rule, Norton is not required to cite a reason as to why she left the case. On June 21, District Judge Nancy Baskin was assigned to the case.
Meanwhile, the arrest warrant for the former gubernatorial candidate is still outstanding. Issued on April 18, Bundy’s bond is set at $10,000 for contempt of court. Bundy failed to respond to multiple court orders and has not cooperated with the litigation. Law enforcement has not yet arrested Bundy on the warrant.
The lawsuit filed in May of 2022 stems from an incident when St. Luke’s Health System claims Bundy and supporters made false statements against the hospital that led protests resulting in a temporary lockdown at one facility. The lockdown resulted in ambulances being diverted to other hospitals. It also alleges the defendants disparaged St. Luke’s, its CEO Chris Roth, and a St. Luke’s physician and nurse practitioner.
Bundy supporter Diego Rodriguez’s website, FreedomMan.org, makes claims about St. Luke’s that the hospital disputes. The protest started after Rodriguez’s infant grandson was temporarily taken into hospital care due to concerns for his health. Authorities eventually returned the child to his parents.
Prior to the court issuing the arrest warrant, both Bundy and Rodriguez had other court sanctions for their failure to cooperate. The court has twice ordered default judgements for the cost of St. Luke’s legal fees.
The court also issued a warrant for Rodriguez’s arrest for contempt of court. His bond is set at $25,000, but like Bundy, he hasn’t yet been arrested.
In YouTube videos, Bundy openly says he will not surrender to the warrant and does not believe the lawsuit’s claims are valid.
The lawsuit also names Ammon Bundy for Governor and the People’s Rights Network – which Bundy leads – as defendants in the case.
On June 13, Norton wrote a decision and order outlining the defendants’ failure to comply with the court in the case. She called the efforts by St. Luke’s to gather depositions “categorically fruitless.”
“While this court will treat Bundy’s failure to obey orders as contempt of court, the rule only permits an initiation of contempt proceedings, this court anticipates Bundy will be equally unresponsive to a new affidavit of contempt by the court as he has been to the plaintiff’s pending motion for contempt and renewed motion for contempt,” Norton wrote.
The next court hearing in the case is set for 2 pm on June 29 in Ada County. The default hearing in the lawsuit regarding potential damages is set for July 10.