Lawyering limbo: NIC attorney steps aside, and search begins for a replacement

(UPDATED, 5:09 p.m., with new details from NIC.)

North Idaho College will be looking for a new lawyer, again, after a board of trustees’ meeting Wednesday.

Art Macomber

Art Macomber abruptly withdrew as NIC’s legal counsel, after trustees rescinded a vote to replace him, KHQ TV in Spokane, Wash., reported Wednesday.

Macomber’s departure is effective Aug. 15. “He will stay on in a limited capacity until new legal counsel is found,” NIC said in a news release late Thursday afternoon.

Independent attorneys, appointed by NIC’s insurance company, will represent the college in three active lawsuits, but they do not have contracts to serve as the college’s general counsel.

The ongoing legal shuffle comes as a regional panel nears a decision about the embattled community college’s accreditation.

NIC trustees voted in April to replace Macomber, effective in June, with Macomber agreeing to help on the transition.

Trustees did a 180 Wednesday. On a 3-2 vote, they rescinded their plan to work with Holland & Hart and Bob Faucher, a senior partner in the Boise law firm. Board Chairman Greg McKenzie flipped his vote Wednesday, casting the pivotal vote to sever ties with Holland & Hart. McKenzie said he changed his mind after learning Holland & Hart’s rates were much higher than trustees originally realized, KHQ reported.

But Macomber stepped down about 20 minutes later. In a prepared statement, he said he had tried to warn the college when it was breaking the law or was about to do so, but his advice went unheeded.

A political ally of three Kootenai County Republican Central Committee-aligned trustees, including McKenzie, Macomber had been hired in December.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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