What's New In Sandpoint?

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I don't get a daily paper and my TV reception is nil, so I haven't heard any follow-up on the kids and their mom. Last I heard, they were being released into foster care and mom was still in jail. What's new? Did the tax sale of the property stand?

-- melina b. (goatgalmjb1@hotmail.com), June 20, 2001


Nothing much new, they're hoping we'll all forget about it and let Joann rot in jail. Wait- seems I heard something about a psychological evaluation for her being scheduled..she is being medicated right now.

-- Chamoisee (chamoisee@yahoo.com), June 20, 2001.

Just read an article from Sandpoint newspaper. Looks like they are moving the kids to another foster home and Mom is still in jail. They are "still negotiating".

-- Deena in GA (dsmj55@aol.com), June 21, 2001.

My turn to feel stupid.What is Sandpoint?

Little bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (littleBit@compworldnet.com), June 21, 2001.

I am from the area and the matter is really over, at least for newsworthy stuff. Mom is still in jail (on $100K bail!) and kids are in foster home. Seems that mom owed back taxes on teh property amounting to $5,500. She told the county that she would deed 10 acres to them in payment thereof and they said no. Mind you, this is prime lake front property appraised at $180,000!!!! It sold at tax auction for only $53,000!! Evidently the new owners got tired of waiting for these so-called "scumbags" to vacate their land so they reported her to CPS. The rest is history. In my opinion, the county (and the people who bought it) merely wanted to get rid of a family that was undesirable and saw a way to do so. If you have any more questions, I would be glad to answer.

-- Lisa (tepeeclan@nidlink.com), June 21, 2001.

Also of note, the local paper here said that mom was reported to be "schizophrenic" or mentall ill but they sent a reporter to the jail to speak with her and he said that she seemed very lucid and normal to him.

-- Lisa (tepeeclan@nidlink.com), June 21, 2001.

Lisa -

That's very interesting. I'm from Idaho City, and the Statesman has several articles (I don't know if I saved them... its not the sort of thing I keep as a rule). The tax issue usually plays a very minor role here. Statesman says that the property was evaluated at over half a mil, but someone on another forum who lives near as well says its mainly bordering swampland, and good access is over 1/4 mile away.

What gets the play is that the (now 19) year old daughter called DCFS. They have since tried to prove the child abuse and neglect stuff, and haven't gotten too far with it. People are writing into the paper from all over the country...

As for the tax sale, there was a write-up on it. It did stand, but there is an offer to buy it back, and not much info on whether its being considered. The sale was over a year ago. Since there are time limitations (2 years - I think) the new 'owners' may be forced to accept a legit offer.

What gets me is that the excess was given to the State, and not the McGuckins. If they only owed a few thousand, then the rest should be treated as if it were a regular sale. SHE could have sold it and kept the money.... Of course, then she would have been able to pay the lein, and the point would have been wasted....

-- Sue Diederich (willow666@rocketmail.com), June 22, 2001.

I didn't hear about the land being swampland. I know that the Garfield Bay area is very desirable right now. I did hear that they have another property of about 1.5 acrea that they owed $300 dollars in taxes on. Their attorney collected the funds and paid those taxes so that least the family still has that property.

I also heard about the 19 yr old daughter reporting mother to CPS. Newspaper we get (the Bonner Bee) said that officials had entered the home and found dirty clothing everything with feces stuck to them. Haven't heard any updates though as to whether this was later substantiated.

-- Lisa (tepeeclan@nidlink.com), June 22, 2001.

NPR reported two days ago that Mrs. Mc Gulkin's bail has been eliminated entirely, but she refuses the conditions of her release, she is free to go if she meets the conditions of her release.

The children are in foster care with friends and family members of their choice, and are being questioned about child abuse. The information coming from THEM is not good, especially their living conditions inside the house, rooms full ( many, many inches of dog feces on the floors in every room) of the most disgusting trash, and rat bites every night.

The woman admits to a drinking problem, according to what I heard on NPR, she is guilty as heck of child abuse, in my opinion, anyway!!!

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (annie@1st.net), June 22, 2001.

McGuckin Arrest Ongoing Due Process Violation by Don Harkins- Idaho Observer 06.23.01

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At 9:33 a.m., May 29, 2001, Bonner County Prosecutor Phil Robinson swore out a criminal complaint that resulted in the arrest of JoAnn McGuckin for felonious injury to her six children. Apparently in the capacity of a witness, Robinson swore under oath that McGuckin, "...did commit the crime of Injury to Children..."

The "crimes" listed by Robinson were "unsanitary living conditions, depriving children of heat, cleanliness and food and/or willfully causing said children to be placed in a situation endangering their health or person."

Most of the allegations in this complaint have proven false as the story has unfolded, yet McGuckin was held on $100,000 bond after her arrest. McGuckin still languishes in jail after refusing to submit to the terms of an OR release that would prevent her from seeing her children and admitting to crimes.

According to Rule 7 of the Idaho Rules of Criminal Procedure, a felony arrest warrant cannot be issued under a criminal complaint alone. It must be accompanied by a witness affidavit. There was no witness affidavit and it appears that McGuckin's arrest was prompted by unqualified statements of unknown fact alleged by the prosecuting attorney.

Proof that Robinson's complaint was built on pure hearsay is found in the transcript of a proceeding before District 1 Magistrate Judge Deborah Heise at 3 p.m. May 29. "Phil Robinson, called as a witness herein on behalf of the Plaintiff [the state], being first duly sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth was examined and testified as follows," the transcript began.

While Robinson attempted to convince the court to determine probable cause and issue arrest warrant for JoAnn and a search warrant for her home, Robinson admitted that he did not know her age of the number of children in the home. He admitted that the information he was presenting to the court was based upon his interpretation of what the oldest daughter Erina had told two detectives, a social worker, the county coroner and himself.

The county complainant also admitted that on two previous investigations, "...there probably were not sufficient grounds to actually obtain orders or forcibly remove the children from the home."

Many of the original concerns for the health and well being of the children that surfaced in news reports, most of which have since been proven false, are contained in his appeal to the judge for arrest and search warrants. Robinson stated under oath that he was a witness to the children being cold, sick, malnourished and that mom spends the money she gets from various agencies "on alcoholic beverages." He also said that the kids live in little tents, cough uncontrollably, eat grass and their pack of "twenty to thirty" hungry and vicious dogs live in the house and subsist by killing deer and moose.

The children are also homeschooled, have no medical or dental records.

At the bottom of page two of the hearing transcript Robinson informs the judge who subsequently granted a warrant for McGuckin's arrest that, "Basically, Mrs. McGuckin probably suffers from some form of a personality disorder or mental illness which has been exacerbated by having six or seven kids in the house and an invalid husband over the past several years. She's had numerous contacts and we've had several reports--1997, '98, and '99 from law enforcement persons concerning confrontations with her. She has become convinced that all government is evil and that things such as power lines in her house, or the wiring for electrical and power and phones are placed there to watch and listen to her family; thinks there is a grand conspiracy."

If she is indeed mentally imbalanced as Robinson informed the court as a witness to events that he had no first hand knowledge, then why did he seek an arrest warrant for her and why has she not been given psychiatric care?

Why has JoAnn McGuckin been in Bonner County Jail since May 29 rather than in a psychiatric hospital equipped to deal with her "mental disorder?"


Bonner County Commission Chairman Tom Suttmeier told 15 witnesses at the board's weekly public meeting June 5 that it "appears to me" that the "County did everything in its power" to help the McGuckin family hang onto its property.

Suttmeier made his comments after reviewing the county's file on the foreclosure, seizure and ultimate disposal of the McGuckin property at public auction. It would appear that in order for Suttmeier to believe the county had "gone the extra mile" for the McGuckins, he had to ignore comments from a former county commissioner.

Former Bonner County Commissioner Bud Mueller, who was out of town at the time of the incident, said that he was outvoted by the other commissioners who would not "forgive" the family's tax debt though they had the authority to do so last year.

Interestingly, it appears that the county has routinely "forgiven" past due property taxes for Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, Bonner County Mall and other personal and commercial properties.

The Bonner County Commissioner's office claims that it does not compile a list of taxes it has forgiven, but the issue of forgiving a tax is handled publicly at the weekly meetings if a person wanted to go over the minutes of each meeting and locate the specific cases. The Commissioner's office also stated that, though news that a property has been relieved of its tax burden is public, documentation submitted by the applicant to prove hardship worthy of tax relief is not available to the public.

Mueller also said that, prior to the property being sold at auction, the McGuckins' neighbors took up a collection and offered to save the family's 40 acres from foreclosure by paying a year's worth of back taxes. Mueller said that the county refused to accept the payment as being "too late."

According to state law, the property owner has the right to redeem his property if taxes are paid up within three years of it being deeded to the county or sold to a qualified buyer--whichever comes first.

It would appear that the county not only failed to forgive the taxes when it could have done so under the family's obviously impoverished circumstances, it refused to accept a timely payment that would delayed any further action against the property for another year.

Don Harkins of The Idaho Observer told Suttmeier that it appeared the county proceeded against McGuckin's property as if she was competent enough to understand that tax delinquency notices must be responded to in a timely manner but that the county moved against her children as if she were mentally disturbed. "Which is it?" Harkins asked.

The commissioners had no answer.

The Idaho Observer

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-- Wendy@GraceAcres (wjl7@hotmail.com), June 23, 2001.

McGuckin: Crazy Woman or the Next American Heroine? Commentary by J.J. Johnson 06.05.01

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To a woman who was arrested on charges that can only be described as 'dubious', tens of thousands across the nation hoped, prayed, and even sent in funds for JoAnn McGuckin to make the unreasonable bail of $100,000. We were on the line when the ruling came for her to be released on her own recognizance. We were all overjoyed.

When the word came: "She's not leaving the jail." My first thought was, "Is she crazy??" Then I heard myself answer:

"Yeah - crazy like a fox."

In the novel "Cracking the Liberty Bell", a famous line was stated more than once: "Sometimes you gotta be a little bit crazy to beat crazy people. Sane people don't do the unexpected". This is exactly what has happened in Sandpoint, Idaho on Monday.

JoAnn McGuckin has effectively taken a page from the Civil Rights movement, and took a stand on principle. Some won't dare call her anything but insane... but a woman still grieving over the loss of her husband, and the possibly of her children being stolen from her, sends words from jail in northern Idaho that speaks for millions Americans:

Joann McGuckin

The state needs to learn its place "...The state needs to learn its place -- and that is not in family business. I do not accept the charges to begin with. It will be up to them to explain their behavior to everyone because it affects us all. May the public demand some answers as well.

"May the family be protected forever and ever. May they (authorities) be punished for their imposition, but may affairs of the heart be the purview of love within the house and may they never be confused."

"The Constitution of the United States of America supports this premise..."

Those will sound like insane words only to those who are already... insane.

These were the words of a mother whose children were raised on such principles as to openly defy what many people believe was a blatantly unlawful assault on not just the McGuckins, but the American Family as a whole. The McGuckin children did what most parents would expect their children to do if trouble was outside - stay put until they heard word from their mother.

It is something that has been lost upon local, state and federal governments. This nation and its Constitution was built on principles they dictate. There is a higher sovereignty than government itself. That is the sovereignty of family.

An analysis of JoAnn McGuckin's refusal to sign documents out of principle, leave jail a 'free woman', along with her public statement, show another strategy beyond what anyone may have considered.

Most of the media pundits who failed to cover the real side of the story did all they could to show that JoAnn is insane. By refusing to sign the documents, she's demonstrated that she is aware of the charges facing her - that she is not insane, and she is competent to stand trial if necessary.

A jury trial over the charges on JoAnn would be all but pointless. It would be all but impossible to pool a jury that would convict her.

It also deflects the accusation that she is unfit to be a mother as the prosecution charges. By her refusing to leave free of cost, she is proving that she cares for her family so much she would stay in jail rather than being prohibited from being with them. As a contrast, the actions of the children during the past 5 days shows she raised them... to be just like her.

Rogue, so-called "watchdog organizations" will, of course, claim that some will use this stand by JoAnn as a rallying cry. They will only do so out of jealousy that they can't find any heroes on their side. They can only wish their mothers would do the same for them.

Each day JoAnn sits in jail on principle will only increase the outrage over the local government's actions....and maybe it should.

I am not a mother in Sandpoint, Idaho, but if I were, and knowing the love of a mother for her children, I think that I would have to consider marching to that jail, and demanding that I be incarcerated with her... for her "crime" is certainly not worse than mine would be, the "crime" of loving her children, of teaching her children to honor the Constitution, of raising her children to be Americans... and to expect no less from anyone elected or appointed to office! To require her to accept an order to stay away from those well-loved, well-taught, well-raised children in order to get out of jail now would be an even greater hardship than the one she now endures.

JoAnn McGuckin has nothing to lose by staying in jail. Perhaps neither do the rest of us.

And it's time for local governments across America to read the direct words of JoAnn McGuckin - The state needs to learn its place -- and that is not in family business.


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Permission to reprint/republish granted, as long as you include the name of our site, the author, and our URL. www.SierraTimes.com All Sierra Times news reports, and all editorials are © 2001 SierraTimes.com (unless otherwise noted)

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

SierraTimes.comô A Subsidiary of J.J. Johnson Enterprises, Inc.

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (wjl7@hotmail.com), June 23, 2001.

AP National Standoff Mother's Charges Reduced

by NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press Writer

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) -- A judge on Thursday freed the woman whose six children held off sheriff's officers for five-days, reducing the child neglect charge against her to a misdemeanor.

The unconditional release allows JoAnn McGuckin the right to see her children without supervision, but she still faces a custody battle with the state which has placed them in a foster home. A custody hearing was set for Friday.

McGuckin had refused another judge's earlier offer to leave jail on condition that visits with her children be supervised. The children visited McGuckin in jail only once.

As McGuckin left jail, she said she would spend the night in a motel.

''It's one step in the right direction,'' she told reporters. ''We'll see where we go from here. I'm almost bewildered. I've been in jail so long it feels like home.''

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $3,000 fine. McGuckin pleaded innocent Thursday to the reduced charge.

First District Court Magistrate Judge Debra Heise ruled there was insufficient evidence to support the felony neglect charge.

''I find the state failed to sustain its burden that the conditions were likely to cause death or great bodily injury,'' the judge said. ''The state has proven that their health may have been in danger.''

Heise had ordered the hearing to determine if criminal charges should be filed.

McGuckin was arrested May 29, prompting a the standoff between the children, ages 8 to 16, and authorities at their ramshackle home.

The ruling came after the judge heard testimony from her eldest, 19- year-old Erina McGuckin who left home last year to join the Navy. She complained to authorities about the living conditions at their home.

She said her family lived in an ''unsanitary...squalid'' house without running water since 1977, with little or no heat and intermittent electricity.

On Wednesday she had said the family ate bread that had been gnawed by rodents and had to remove animal feces from their food as it was cooking.

But a conflicting account was given Thursday by Kathryn McGuckin, 16, who said the family had been under extreme stress for several years because both parents were sick.

She said that had caused some of the housecleaning, laundry and other chores to remain undone for periods of time.

The children's father, Michael McGuckin, died of multiple sclerosis in May.

''We could not deal with the stress of the house, being on shift all night long with Dad, haul water, prepare food for the kids, and our education and keep up the house to the world standards of what all homes should be,'' Kathryn McGuckin said.

The teen-ager said she was prepared to shoot anyone who attacked her brothers and sisters. She said she test-fired two weapons in the house to make sure they worked.

''If someone started shooting, we had the right to shoot back,'' she said

In other testimony Thursday, Dr. Tom Lawrence, a doctor who examined the McGuckin children after the standoff, said they appeared to be in good health.

A videotape played by prosecutors showed the interior of the family's rural Idaho home littered with garbage, broken furniture, dog feces, spoiled food, maggots and mice. May.

The family was prosperous in her early years living off the father's $500,000 trust fund. But when the money was spent, they descended into abject poverty.The house they occupied has been sold for unpaid taxes.

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