BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court has affirmed the decision of a state judge who two years ago declared a woman from Malad City a vexatious litigant under a new law aimed at neutralizing those who repeatedly file frivolous lawsuits.
In a decision issued Tuesday, the justices unanimously agreed that the judge acted appropriately in finding that Holli Lundahl Telford meets the criteria for the designation under the new law.
Telford was the first person to challenge the law at the Supreme Court, but she's no stranger to being declared a justice system nuisance. Court records show she has been designated a vexatious litigant by the states of Utah, California, Montana, Idaho's federal court, the 9th and 10th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2011, 6th District Judge David Nye made a similar call after several district judges and magistrates urged action against Telford and her record of at least three losing lawsuit in the last seven years. The Supreme Court ruling didn't provide details about the claims in her lawsuits.
Telford challenged the designation, arguing that the judge abused his discretion, that the order was issued before she had a chance to respond, and that court clerks handling the case manipulated rules and deadlines. She also argued that Idaho's rule giving judges authority to identify vexatious litigants was unconstitutional.
After reviewing the case and taking oral arguments last month, the justices failed to find any flaw in Nye's decision or that Telford's due process rights were hampered or infringed.
Telford told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she was frustrated by the decision and is in disbelief the court didn't agree with her side of the argument.
Nuisance lawsuits are nothing new to the state and federal court system, and judges have taken steps to restrict the access of some for decades. Idaho adopted Administrative Rule 59 in April 2011, just months before Nye took action against Telford.
The rule in Idaho and other states was created to help judges walk the line between protecting a person's right to access the courts but to also protect the court from logjams created by lawsuits that lack any merit.
Idaho's rule precludes people who have been declared vexatious litigants from filing any new cases without permission from a judge. A person who disobeys the rule could be held in contempt of court.