Subscribe for 33¢ / day

Surrogate Judge Thomas Merrick presides over a misdemeanor court trial on Oct. 18 at the Morton County Courthouse. On trial were five co-defendants facing misdemeanor charges from an Oct. 22, 2016, pipeline protest. Merrick acquitted photojournalist Sara Lafleur-Vetter but convicted and sentenced Mary Redway and Alexander Simon to jail time.

Thirteen months after the eviction of the occupants of the Dakota Access protest camps, two-thirds of the protest-related criminal cases have closed.

Trial court administrator Donna Wunderlich, of the South Central Judicial District, said Wednesday that 543 cases are closed, 171 are open, 97 are inactive with warrants, three are on appeal and 17 have satisfied deferred impositions, meaning the conviction has been taken off their record.

Related trials reach out to late September, more than two years after the first arrests in the pipeline protests.

Joint arguments are set for next month for Mary Redway and Alex Simon, who were convicted at trial last fall of protest-related misdemeanors from activities in October 2016.

Surrogate Judge Thomas Merrick convicted and sentenced them to serve jail time as the first protest defendants to receive such dispositions.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or


Crime and Courts Reporter