From the October 2001 Idaho Observer:

Charges against McGuckin dropped;

Prosecutor pretends compassion for mental condition

SANDPOINT -- Felony injury to children charges filed against JoAnne McGuckin late last May have been dropped. Bonner County Prosecutor Phil Robinson, in an uncommon display of compassion, stated that he dropped the charges because he has learned that the behavior that led up to McGuckin's arrest was due to mental illness, not criminal intent.

The McGuckin story made international headlines beginning May 29, 2001 after “authorities” attempted to assume custody of the five McGuckin children that had been left to fend for themselves upon the arrest of their mother for alleged child abuse and neglect. Their father, Michael McGuckin, had recently died of complications from Multiple Sclerosis.

Rather than go quietly with the people who arrested their mother, the kids said, “Get the guns,” and sicced their dogs on sheriff's deputies and Child Protective Services employees. The kids' unexpected move began a five day standoff, the surface of which was covered by the international press corps. At the same time, The Idaho Observer, Attorney Ed Steele and others began to uncover a four-year plot by Bonner county officials, private real estate developers and local attorneys to steal the McGuckin's beautiful 40 acres of private lakefront property. The McGuckins were targets for greedy opportunists because they were cash poor and property rich.

Though we were unable to help McGuckin reclaim her property and regain custody of her children, largely because she apparently chose to cooperate with the same state that stole those things from her, our activities and international scrutiny did prompt county officials to more carefully proceed against this woman, her children and her property. Because the county was under such a microscope, it could not be so arrogant about the process it used to ruin the lives of what remains of the McGuckin family.

As we exposed in the July edition of The Idaho Observer, Robinson proceeded against McGuckin as if she were a mental case though publicly he called it a criminal prosecution. This most recent development is not really a change of heart so much as an admission that all this time McGuckin has been treated as if she were a mental case, Robinson simply didn't want people to know that the state had such unbridled power to move in and destroy a family.

McGuckin has been charged with harboring vicious dogs. The matter will be heard in in court Oct. 11.

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