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Judge drops case against Idaho woman who had yard sale during coronavirus restrictions

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A North Idaho woman who was cited for having a yard sale during the state’s stay-at-home order won’t face charges, a judge said.

Judge Van Valin issued a decision to dismiss the case against Christa Thompson, a Rathdrum homeowner who was cited in April for allegedly violating Idaho’s restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time, officials said the yard sale was not considered an “essential business.” On Friday, however, the judge dismissed the case because the yard sale was not a business, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported.

“In his oral decision, Judge Van Valin relied on the Black’s Law Dictionary definitions of ‘business’ and found that the activity alleged as a basis for the charge, holding a yard sale, simply did not constitute a ‘business’ as a matter of law, and that the plain language of the stay-at-home order did not apply to Christa,” Edward Dindinger of Dindinger & Kohler, PLLC, wrote in a news release. Dindinger represented Thompson.

Violating the stay-at-home order in Idaho was a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in a county jail or a $1,000 fine, or both, the Idaho Statesman reported in April.

“This was a large non-essential yard sale that filled the entire front yard and spilled into the back yard as well,” Rathdrum Police Department said in an April news release. “These yard sale items could be seen from Highway 41.”

Thompson held a yard sale “to liquidate her late father-in-law’s estate,” Dindinger said.

“It felt like I could breathe,” Thompson told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “I think the worst ticket I’ve ever had was a speeding ticket when I was a teenager, so it’s nice to be done with it.”

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