County says court lacks jurisdiction in Hughes Creek lawsuit

by Perry Backus, Missoulian

“The two families seeking to keep the Hughes Creek Road closed to the public erred in their lawsuit to force that action, says a motion filed late last week by the Ravalli County attorney’s office.

As a result, the District Court does not have the jurisdiction to intervene, said Ravalli County Deputy Attorney Daniel Browder in his motion asking the court to dismiss the families’ lawsuit.

In January, the Ravalli County Commission voted 3-2 to deny a formal request by 10 landowners to abandon a portion of the upper Hughes Creek Road locked off the public for 40 years.

Under terms of the commission’s decision, the gate was required to be taken down by June 1.

Zachary and Tracy Bugli and Charlene and Violet Cox filed a lawsuit on April 10 asking the court to stop the county from forcing landowners to remove the controversial gate.

Browder said the families’ lawsuit failed to ask for an application for a writ of review, which his motion claims is the only means by which a district court can acquire jurisdiction to issue the order the families seek.

A writ of review allows a court to review the records of a lower court or quasi-judicial body like the county commission.

Browder asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit without prejudice. That would allow the families to refile an application for a writ of review to revisit the issue.

If the families opt to take that route, the district court’s review of the issue will be narrowed to determine if the county commission acted within its jurisdiction. It doesn’t allow the court to consider if the commission’s decision was erroneous, Browder wrote.”

Hughes Creek Rd. - Ravalli County
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