Trespassing citation involving county prosector leads to questions and confusion
RIGBY — A trespassing citation issued in Jefferson County last month is causing concern among locals because of whose name is on the ticket.
The citation was given to a local man who was using 465 North to transport ATVs out of his backyard. He lives on the other side of 465 North and was recently using the road to look at houses for sale.
465 North is a private road that intersects with 4100 East, a public road. It is in the middle of a neighborhood dispute because the private road is being used as a through road, meaning vehicles that don’t belong in the neighborhood are passing through.
Some people in the area have been keeping track of who lives on 465 North and who doesn’t. Mark Taylor, who is the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney, also lives on 465 North and called deputies recently when he didn’t recognize someone on his road.
Taylor has maintained to EastIdahoNews.com that everything he does regarding 465 North has been as a private citizen and resident of the neighborhood – not as the county attorney.
“Even though I hold an office, I’m still a private citizen. I still have a right to enforce no trespassing signs on my property and that should be really clear that I was acting as a private citizen,” Taylor said.
EastIdahoNews.com spoke with the man who lives on the other side of 465 North who was given the citation. He wanted to remain anonymous for safety purposes but said after he got the citation in hand, things became confusing.
It began when he was driving on 465 North on his ATV one day, looking at houses to buy.
“He (Mark Taylor) comes running out of his driveway with a camera, filming me and waving for me to stop. So I stop. His first words were, ‘Do you live on this street?’ And I said, ‘I do live on this road.’ Very short conversation. And then I say, ‘I live at the bridge. I’m your neighbor,’” he said.
He gave Taylor his address after Taylor asked for it.
“He (Taylor) said, ‘You don’t live on this road.’ So I’m sitting there and he says, ‘Wait here, I am going to call the police,’” he said.
He also told EastIdahoNews.com that his property is back against the private roadway and that he uses 465 North to access his ATVs.
The man said he drove off and didn’t wait but that Taylor later came to his home and said he would bring police.
According to a public records request filed by EastIdahoNews.com, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s K9 Deputy A. Cleverley, wrote, “I spoke with Mark, who had returned home and stated that the area around his home and the other residence (sic) maintained the roadway and recently had posted signs on the roadways indicating the roadway was private and that there was to be no trespassing on the roadway. Mark stated that the residence (sic) in the area had become upset with the constant trespassing on the roadway.”
The report continues to say, “Mark told me that he wanted the individual cited for trespassing and signed the citation for trespass as I did not witness the action.”
According to Idaho state law, “the uniform citation may be signed by any person in whose presence an alleged offense occurred and be witnessed by a peace officer whose name shall be endorsed on the citation.”
“Police officers or sheriff’s deputies cannot issue citations for things that they did not witness themselves, generally speaking — things like trespassing. A citizen can sign the citation, the officer can fill out the citation of what’s alleged, and the person who did witness it and who did see it, can sign the citation and that’s true for any citizen. That’s what I did. I said, he was trespassing, he is not a resident of the road, he was really disrespectful to me,” said Taylor.
Showing up to court
The resident who received the trespassing citation told EastIdahoNews.com that he showed up to court on the requested date, July 12. However, court clerks had told him that the citation was not in their system and there was no case.
“Nobody sent a message to me saying that it’s dropped. I need something from the courts because I have a ticket that says misdemeanor in my hand. So the court calls the police officer who wrote the ticket and my explanation from them was there was something wrong with the ticket it got kicked back to them, and then they didn’t want to prosecute,” he said.
The problem with the ticket? It was supposed to be marked as an infraction citation instead of a misdemeanor. According to the public records request that EastIdahoNews.com filed, the officer wrote, “the citation is an infraction on trespassing.”
It’s an easy fix on a ticket, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Taylor explained that he told his civil deputy there was a citation that he was involved in as a witness and if it was to move forward, someone else would have to prosecute it since he knew he was a conflict of interest.
However, in the end, the ticket did not proceed in court.
Possible zoning violation
Another possible misdemeanor had residents worried after a letter from Jefferson County Planning and Zoning was issued last month to Josephine Smith, who lives on 465 North.
The letter is known as a compliance letter and is common for the department to send out.
The letter asked Smith to stop permitting access across her property to and from the private road.
“A willful violation of the Jefferson County Zoning Ordinance is a misdemeanor that shall be punishable by up to six months in jail or up to a $300 fine or both. Alternative civil remedies are also available and may be pursued,” the letter said.
EastIdahoNews.com reached out to Smith on Monday to see if anything happened in her situation. She told EastIdahoNews.com that she sent a letter to Planning and Zoning and the county commissioners addressing the situation and has not heard back.