First, a soul-searching question directed to the broad spectrum of the community at large, aware of the story that I reference here: Why were there not throngs of local people - - hundreds, even thousands - - streaming daily to visit and stand with the Nick and Donna Nickerson family "camped" homeless, as they've been, aside the road above Orofino, ever since so suddenly and brutally evicted and barred from their nearby ranch home on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 12? Have we paid little or no attention, content to believe media reports, and simply assume that justice is being served? Were we concerned enough to even visit the Nickersons' ItHappenedtoUs website, to get their side of the story, or place a phone call to express our empathy and support? Certainly, many folks did so, just not nearly enough, however.
As I see it, Clearwater County Sheriff Chris Goetz can claim neither ignorance nor innocence in this tragic happening. Over the past many months, and years, he has been instructed, counseled, reminded endlessly of the supreme, unequaled powers he possesses over all matters of law within his county. Throughout this baseless, decade-long controversy over rightful ownership of the Nickerson ranch property, all that Sheriff Goetz needed to have was the integrity and the courage to stand firm against every entity and force that was attempting to commit fraud. How can I be so sure of this?
Simple! It was and is the sheriff's solemn duty to see that constitutionally guaranteed right of due process be followed always, and it never was! Tellingly, upon assuming office in 2008, Sheriff Goetz posted the following promise: It will be the mission of the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office to provide a safe and friendly environment by working with the people who make up our communities. Clearwater County shall be a place where visitors are welcome, where children can grow, families thrive and elderly retire. Furthermore, the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office shall be available to the public for help in a cooperative effort in solving their problems in the community and at home.
So, what then has happened, sheriff? When the banks started making fraudulent demands in 2010, why did you not respond by insisting that a trial by jury be scheduled, for all facts to be properly exposed and justly resolved? And much later on in 2017, why did you further betray your sworn oath by agreeing to officiate at an unlawful sheriff's sale of the Nickerson's property (per order of a local, appointed judge)? And again, another two years later, say absolutely nothing when this same judge granted summary judgment....making further mockery of constitutional "due process 101?!"
Possibly your most egregious betrayal of all, Sheriff Goetz, is how you purported to be fair and friendly toward the Nickersons all along.....right up to the morning of Nov. 12, the day you enforced a final unlawful order of the court, by sending out your SWAT teams to evict the family, and raid and confiscate everything they owned. After all this, I can only conclude that one of two things must have happened: Either you were issued (and by whom?) a personal ultimatum of some sort, or else were made an attractive offer you couldn't refuse. Might it have been both?
I close by returning to my opening question. Seeing as there exists a 10-year-long written record, proving beyond all doubt, that injustice has been rife in this case, how might we, a caring people, have helped? By highest law, we are all called to stand. So, even at that crucial, final moment (9:30 a.m. on 11-12-19) just imagine the effect if hundreds of us law-abiding citizens had promptly and resolutely filled the roadway clear up to the top of Upper Fords Creek. In short order and in no way, could official cars, moving vans, U-Haul trucks and trailers have proceeded to carry our their planned robbery. By our mere presence in large numbers, We the People would have wielded the power to force all parties, at last, into a lawful court proceeding, one many years overdue. Obviously, a mere five, 10 or 25 people thus resisting would likely not end well, but with literally hundreds and more joining forces, it would. So, it's our choice, friends. Who might be targeted next?!
Carol J. Asher