State Politics

Idaho lawmaker awaiting trial in Texas to get his guns back, at least temporarily

Idaho Republican Rep. John Green is an attorney from Rathdrum.
Idaho Republican Rep. John Green is an attorney from Rathdrum. Idaho Legislature

A federal appeals court has ruled a lower court erred in stripping a North Idaho lawmaker of his guns while he is awaiting trial in Texas.

A Fort Worth grand jury charged John Green and two of his clients, Thomas and Michelle Selgas, with tax evasion in July 2018.

Green is a lawyer from Rathdrum and a Republican in his first term representing District 2 in the Idaho House of Representatives.

The indictment alleges the Selgases deposited the proceeds from the sale of gold coins and other income into Green’s lawyer trust account, rather than accounts in their own name. It alleges they then had their personal expenses paid from Green’s account to evade paying their federal income taxes, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release issued at the time.

During Green’s initial court appearance on the charges in August 2018, a Texas magistrate judge ordered he be released pending trial subject to certain conditions, including a requirement that Green not possess firearms.

Green later asked the judge to remove the no-firearms release condition and allow him to have one rifle to protect his family against the wild animals that he said inhabit the area near his North Idaho home.

The judge denied Green’s request. Green filed an objection with the district court, which upheld the no-firearms order. Green then appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans.

In its Oct. 22 opinion, the 5th Circuit said the district court failed to make an “independent determination” that taking away Green’s guns was warranted.

The 5th Circuit remanded the case to district court “to conduct additional fact-finding concerning Green’s pretrial release no-firearms condition,” states the opinion.

“Green is an Idaho state representative with no criminal history and on top of that, he’s charged with a white-collar crime,” said his attorney Michael Minns in a statement. “Green wanted his gun back to protect his family. They live in a rural area with bears.”

Meanwhile, Green will be allowed to keep his firearms, pending new court findings pertaining to the no-firearms condition and the outcome of his trial, which is slated to begin Jan. 6 in Dallas.

The Statesman has reached out to Green for comment.

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Idaho Statesman investigative reporter Cynthia Sewell was named Idaho Press Club reporter of the year in 2017 and 2008. A University of Oregon graduate, she joined the Statesman in 2005. Her family has lived in Idaho since the mid-1800s.