Monday, April 24, 2017

47 pipeline protest cases closed last month, 33 dismissed

Prosecutors and judges dismissed 33 misdemeanor criminal cases resulting from arrests at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests last month.. Another 14 cases were resolved that month by guilty pleas, according to court records. Most of the dropped cases related to misdemeanor criminal trespass charges from the late summer and fall. Protesters were charged with demonstrating illegally on private property where pipeline construction was underway in southern Morton County. Prosecutors struggled to prove those charges before Allan Schmalenberger, a retired judge from Dickinson assisting the South Central District judges with DAPL cases. Schmalenberger decided in multiple cases that the Morton County State's Attorney's Office had not met its burden of proof in showing that protesters were given proper notice — by sign postings or warnings from an authorized person — that the land was private. After two trials, which Schmalenberger canceled midway through due to lack of evidence, the prosecutors entered motions to dismiss in several similar cases, citing a "notice issue."...more

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