BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — An Idaho sheriff has agreed to serve court documents to far-right activist Ammon Bundy after Idaho’s largest hospital system asked the state Supreme Court to compel him to do so.
Two days ago, attorneys for St. Luke’s Health System petitioned the Idaho Supreme Court to order Gem County Sheriff Donnie Wunder to uphold his duties and serve documents to Bundy at his Emmett home.
Wunder had recently informed St. Luke’s, which is suing Bundy for defamation, that Bundy was becoming “more and more aggressive” to process servers. Wunder and the Gem County prosecutor told St. Luke’s that sheriff’s employees would no longer deliver documents to the former gubernatorial candidate after he confronted deputies who came on his property earlier this month.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Wunder’s office said the sheriff “re-engaged in discussions” with the prosecutor’s office, St. Luke’s and the hospital’s attorneys at Holland & Hart. St. Luke’s attorney Erik Stidham told the Idaho Statesman in an email that the hospital will withdraw its Supreme Court petition Thursday morning.
“The sheriff will be signing an affidavit confirming he will perform the duties that we were asking the court to direct him to perform,” Stidham added.
In addition to asking the Supreme Court to compel Wunder to serve court papers to Bundy, St. Luke’s asked the court to prevent Wunder’s office from charging process servers with trespassing if they entered Bundy’s property.
Wunder’s statement said he interprets Idaho code to exempt private process servers from trespassing laws if they enter solely to deliver court documents and cause no property damage. The statement said Wunder did not intend to impede the judicial process by refusing to serve Bundy.
In an April 12 letter to St. Luke’s officials, Wunder said he worried there was “potential for someone to get hurt” if sheriff’s office employees continued to try to contact Bundy. According to Wunder, Bundy told the sheriff he felt he was being harassed by process servers.
“Mr. Bundy went on to also say that he is at his breaking point,” Wunder said. “By the tone in his voice, I believe he is.”
St. Luke’s and the sheriff said they’re still concerned about the situation escalating.
“St. Luke’s and Sheriff Wunder agree that Mr. Bundy poses a real threat of physical violence and that community safety is paramount,” the joint statement read. “They sincerely hope that Mr. Bundy will cause no violence, but they agree that the rule of law must be upheld and that he cannot stop legal processes by threatening harm to others.”
Bundy has pushed back against insinuations that he’s violent. In a blog post and YouTube video published recently, Bundy said the characterization is inaccurate, adding that a confrontation with sheriff’s deputies made him feel like “they are going to keep pushing and pushing until I become what they say I am.”
Still, Bundy, who is known for armed standoffs with federal officials in 2014 and 2016, has suggested he would take a similar tact if pushed in the St. Luke’s lawsuit. He told the Idaho Dispatch in December that he would “meet ’em on the front door with my friends and a shotgun.”
Bundy and an associate, Diego Rodriguez, were sued by St. Luke’s last year after holding protests outside the hospital’s downtown Boise location and leading what hospital officials called a “baseless smear campaign” over a child welfare case involving Rodriguez’s grandchild.
Bundy has missed several court dates, and 4th District Judge Lynn Norton on Monday issued a civil arrest warrant for him. Stidham told the Statesman that Bundy had not turned himself in by Wednesday night despite posting a YouTube video Wednesday morning telling St. Luke’s he doesn’t want to fight over the issue.