The Coeur d’Alene Press published an article on Thursday, January 12th, headlined Nault’s Family Wants Answers. The article’s lead read, “A year and half after a popular Coeur d’Alene High baseball player drowned in Lake Coeur d’Alene, his mother and sister still don’t know exactly what happened.”
Unfortunately, it was a typical Press “emotion” piece, an article more focused on telling the public how the Nault family feels rather than giving the Nault family or us substantive information. It’s information the public needs to evaluate how well or how poorly the Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger and the Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh are performing their official duties.
The Nault family is absolutely entitled to know the answers to the questions Mr. James posed in the article.
So is the public. There is a valid public interest in determining if Reggie Nault’s death was thoroughly and competently investigated and if all those who contributed materially to his death were prosecuted. There is certainly a valid public interest in knowing if official favoritism was shown toward some who should have been prosecuted for incidental crimes (e.g., Destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence) but were not.
The county sheriff and the county prosecutor are elected officials. The questions posed by the Nault family in Thursday’s article and the questions OpenCdA raised in our earlier posts in 2015 and 2016 are still valid. It appears they’re also still unanswered. The results of the Nault death investigation and any investigations into the related conduct of involved adults and juveniles will allow the public to better evaluate the official performance of elected officials including the sheriff, the prosecutor, and judges.
Certainly the Nault family’s feelings are important. OpenCdA gives attorney Leland James respectful credit for pushing the feckless Coeur d’Alene Press to perform as a newspaper rather than the image protector of elected officials.