What started out as a public arrest that had more than a few people wondering if Payette County law enforcement had suspended habeas corpus, has ended quietly: Charges against anti-fracking activist Alma Hasse have been dismissed.
Hasse was led away in handcuffs from an October 2014 Payette County Planning and Zoning meeting after insisting on more transparency from commissioners, who had given a string of green lights to Payette County's burgeoning natural gas industry (BW, News, "You Have the Right to Remain Silent, Don't You?" Nov. 19, 2014).
When Hasse was told she had no business speaking before the public officials after they closed public comment, she stood her ground.
"I'm not going to leave," Hasse said.
"Can we have a sergeant at arms?" asked P&Z Chair Chad Henggeler.
"It's a public meeting," said Hasse.
Public meeting or not, Hasse was handcuffed and taken to jail. But she wasn't processed into the county jail. She was instead placed inside a jail cell, isolated from the rest of the inmate population.
"I kept saying, 'I want to talk to my attorney,'" Hasse told BW in November 2014. Yet she was held without the privilege of visitors.
"I've never seen a case like hers," attorney Michael Bartlett told BW. "It doesn't take a lot of forethought to conclude that she would want to respond [to P&Z commissioners]. And when she did respond, what did they do? They used men with guns to put her in a cage."
Thus began a drawn-out legal battle, which included a change of judge and prosecutor, leading to a jury trial scheduled to begin Wednesday, April 22.
"I just wanted to let you know that the charges against me were dropped today," Hasse told BW on April 2. A check of the Idaho Court Data Repository confirmed prosecutors dismissed charges of criminal trespass against Hasse.
Since her arrest, Hasse was included in the Ridenbaugh Press' 2015 list of 100 Influential Idahoans, alongside Boise State University President Bob Kustra, Congressman Raul Labrador and Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. None of the Payette P&Z commissioners made the list.