Bismarck Human Relations Committee members on Monday moved forward with plans to honor a doctor who sued a major healthcare provider and won more than $2.1 million, after the group’s chairwoman briefly discussed questions about the move.
City commissioners earlier this month voted unanimously to follow the committee’s recommendation that Robert Roswick be given a Humanitarian Award.
"Since that time, Mid Dakota personnel reached out to myself and others wishing to speak with us," Committee Chairwoman Krista Rausch said.
Two committee members and three city staff members met with the clinic’s CEO and attorney “and we listened to the information they wanted us to hear,” she said. “They did not ask for any specific action to occur.”
Mid Dakota did not respond to a Tribune request for comment for this story.
In March 2017, Roswick, a family practice physician, filed a federal lawsuit against Mid Dakota, claiming he was unjustly fired the year before for speaking out against alleged racial discrimination against an Indian-American physician at the clinic.
The November nomination letter to the city from a patient of Roswick's said he "put his career and reputation on the line to speak out, stand up and defend a fellow colleague.”
A Mid Dakota representative, along with a member of advertising agency Odney Inc., which is affiliated with the clinic, contacted Rauschwith "a few concerns"the day after city commissioners voted Jan. 14 to accept the committee's recommendation to honor Roswick, Rausch said before Monday’s committee meeting.
During the meeting, members voted unanimously to order a plaque and authorized Rausch to schedule a presentation for the award. There was no discussion among committee members outside of Rausch’s comments.
Two Bismarck residents asked committee members not to reconsider Roswick’s award.
Ed Klecker, a former federal court clerk, said he heard there has been “pressure” on committee members.
“I’m here to encourage you not to do that,” he said.
Klecker said he is the father of Mary Miller, who nominated Roswick.
Bianca Bell said that after learning about what Roswick did, she found it “fitting” that he receive the award.
“In your application itself, it says the Bismarck Human Relations Committee is seeking an individual, business or nonprofit organization that has exhibited leadership in the area of human rights,” she said.
The city commission voted on the committee's recommendation as part of the Jan. 14 meeting's "consent agenda" -- a list of proposals commissioners approve in a single vote without hearing presentations. A day later, Mayor Steve Bakken told the Tribune that Roswick's lawsuit wasn't a "testament to the fabric of the individual," despite the award nomination listing the federal lawsuit as the reason the physician deserved the award.
Bakken added that he "agreed to abide by" the Human Relations Committee's decision to recommend Roswick.
On Jan. 20, the mayor told the Tribune he had been "part of discussions" about asking the committee to reconsider giving the award to Roswick.
"I was part of discussions concerning it, but it wasn't me who did the ask," Bakken said, declining to elaborate.
Bakken met with City Attorney Jannelle Combs on Jan. 21. He told the Tribune they were considering "a few options" in how to respond to the award going to Roswick.
"There wasn't a good amount of due diligence done on the part of the Human Relations Committee," Bakken said, again declining to elaborate. "So we are looking into more information and trying to get that gathered up so we can actually go make an intelligent decision on what the options for that might be."
Rausch after Monday’s meeting declined to comment on Bakken’s assertion that the committee didn’t do its due diligence.
Before the Jan. 14 city commission meeting, Bakken and commissioners received a packet that included the nomination form, which said the physician's actions "epitomize his intent and purpose for this award."
"Many would compare Dr. Roswick’s actions against the large clinic as a 'David and Goliath’ moment,'" the request said. "Many said the facts wouldn’t matter; going up against a major employer with a formidable legal team and a seemingly limitless legal budget would be a zero-win game."
Bakken said he did read the packet information. He said "there may be some other information that wasn't fully disclosed at the time."
"I had some more information that was conveyed to me privately that I deemed needing some more looking into," Bakken said. He would not disclose the information.
Rausch told the Tribune she had not spoken with the mayor. Combs, the city attorney, said she had not received any "formal requests" to reconsider the award going to Roswick.
Combs said a motion to rescind the award would need to be made by a city commissioner during a meeting. Bakken would not have the authority in his role as mayor to call for a reconsideration, she said.
Commissioners Nancy Guy, Shawn Oban, Greg Zenker and Steve Marquardt told the Tribune they have not been part of any discussions to repeal Roswick's award.
The sheriff of Mercer County was cited early Friday for DUI in Bismarck after a field sobriety test showed his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit, court records show.
Dean Danzeisen, 55, was stopped on 43rd Avenue by police shortly after midnight Thursday, according to a citation on file. His blood alcohol content was 0.194%, the document shows. The legal limit in North Dakota for driving is 0.08%. The charge against him carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.
Danzeisen is scheduled to appear in Bismarck Municipal Court on the misdemeanor charge on Feb. 5. He did not immediately return calls seeking comment. County Commissioner Merlin Dahl referred calls to State’s Attorney Jessica Binder, who did not immediately respond to calls for comment.
Danzeisen's attorney, Chris Redmann, called the case sensitive, adding that his client is "innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." He declined to comment further.
Danzeisen has been the county's sheriff for more than 17 years. Before that he was police chief for Zap, Pick City, Stanton and Golden Valley, and prior to that he was a ranger at Lake Sakakawea State Park for the state Parks and Recreation Department, according to his LinkedIn profile.
A Mandan woman who police allege sold more than half a ton of marijuana between March 2018 and April 2019 will go to trial in May.
Megan Isaak, 24, faces six felony drug charges for possession with intent to deliver and conspiracy to deliver. She was arrested in Stark County in April after police suspected she had stopped at her Mandan storage unit to get cash for a marijuana purchase, an affidavit says.
Local police tracked her vehicle using a GPS device and requested assistance from Stark County officials and the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Police during the execution of search warrants found 170 pounds of marijuana in Isaak's storage shed and $150,000 cash in her car, according to an affidavit.
South Central District Judge Gail Hagerty on Monday found there was probable cause to move the case to trial. Isaak pleaded not guilty to all the charges against her, four of which carry possible 20-year prison sentences.
Police said that in addition to the pot in her storage unit, they found 93 grams of ecstacy, 910 grams of THC wax and 99 doses of LSD during their search. Authorities estimated the marijuana had a street value of about $1 million.
Isaak's attorney, Justin Vinje, after the hearing said Isaak is a good-hearted, hard-working person with no criminal record.
"In the justice system we often see good people whose bad decisions have 'snowballed' beyond their original expectations," he said. "Every person has the opportunity for redemption, though."
Two others are listed as co-defendants in Isaak’s case. A Morton County arrest warrant has been issued for Colby Dolan of Onalaska, Wash., on two drug conspiracy charges. He’s also wanted on two drug conspiracy charges in Burleigh County. Mercedes Beito of Bismarck faces one drug conspiracy charge.
One of two men accused of having sex with two teenage girls after giving them methamphetamine and marijuana pleaded not guilty on Monday and will go to trial in May.
Michaelson Plaisimond, 30, is charged with gross sexual imposition and corruption of a minor in alleged incidents in September. Police allege co-defendant Arnold Rennie gave two girls the drugs and had sex with one of them in a Bismarck apartment. They then went to a motel room, where he forced himself on the other girl, police say. Plaisimond is accused of having sex with both girls.
South Central District Judge Thomas Schneider found there was probable cause to move the case forward. He scheduled a two-day trial starting May 12. Plaisimond’s attorney, William Thomason, declined comment.
Rennie is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Feb. 10. He is charged with gross sexual imposition and two counts of corruption of a minor.
The men could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of gross sexual imposition. Both are being held in the Burleigh Morton Detention Center. Plaisimond's bail is set at $500,000 and Rennie's at $50,000.
A hearing set on defense motions to suppress evidence and change the venue in the case of a man accused of quadruple murder in Mandan last year has been delayed again, court documents show.
The hearing for Chad Isaak, 45, had been scheduled Tuesday but is now scheduled for May 4. He is charged with four counts of murder in the deaths of RJR Maintenance and Management co-owner Robert Fakler and employees Adam Fuehrer and Bill and Lois Cobb, who were married. The four were found shot and stabbed April 1, 2019, at the business off Memorial Highway in Mandan.
Isaak has pleaded not guilty. He has requested a change of venue for the trial because of news coverage about the case. He also has challenged the legality of police search warrants in the investigation. The hearing on his motions has been delayed several times.
The trial in the case is scheduled to start Nov. 30, court documents show.
A Bismarck man will go to trial in May to face a child abuse charge for allegedly striking his stepdaughter with a broomstick because she refused to wear clothing that reflected his religious beliefs.
Youness Moussaid, 33, pleaded not guilty to the charge on Monday. He was arrested in December after school officials notified police that the girl had visible signs of abuse, including a bump on her head and bruises on her hand and on the front of her thighs “consistent with the shape and size of a broomstick” Moussaid allegedly admitted to using, according to a police affidavit.
Moussaid wanted the girl to “follow his Muslim beliefs, which includes wearing dresses and hijab,” according to a police affidavit, but the girl would change clothes when she got to school.
Moussaid is prohibited from having contact with the girl, who has been placed with the Department of Social Services. South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland scheduled a two-day trial starting May 27. Defense attorney Lucas Wynne declined comment.
A May trial is scheduled for two men arrested on drug charges in Bismarck in December -- one of whom has dubbed himself Baby Chapo in reference to a Mexican drug cartel leader.
Geovannie Tapia-Nelson, 19, of Bismarck, and Tristen Demarrias, 20, of Fort Yates, waived their right to a preliminary hearing Monday. Both face drug conspiracy felonies -- some that include possession of a firearm -- after police say they found scales, bags for vacuum sealing, weapons and drugs in dealer amounts in Bismarck residences while executing search warrants.
The men were arrested after a lengthy investigation that included social media surveillance. A police affidavit filed in the case states that Tapia-Nelson, who calls himself Baby Chapo, and DeMarrias displayed drugs, weapons and cash in Snapchat videos. Images in some of the videos indicated that the drugs were for sale, the affidavit said.
Tapia-Nelson is charged with three counts of conspiring to deliver drugs, use of a minor to deliver drugs, two counts of possession with intent to deliver and two drug paraphernalia misdemeanors. His attorney, Josh Weatherspoon, declined comment.
Demarrias is charged with three counts of conspiring to deliver drugs, use of a minor to deliver drugs and unlawful possession of a firearm. His attorney, James Loraas, also declined comment.
South Central District Judge Thomas Schneider set aside three days for a jury trial, starting May 12.
Tapia-Nelson and Demarrias are being held in the Burleigh Morton Detention Center in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Two years ago, Judge Donovan Foughty raised a question at a North Dakota tribal relations conference.
"I said, I've been sitting on the bench for many, many years, and why is it an Indian child that has some criminal troubles, has some issues with delinquency -- why is it they can't get the same level of services that I can get them through my juvenile court as opposed to the tribal court?" said the longtime state district court judge in Devils Lake.
Some state lawmakers and Gov. Doug Burgum were there and listening, he said. The 2019 Legislature, responding to a push by advocates, passed a bill allowing for tribal juvenile services cooperative agreements under a pilot program. A similar bill had failed in 2017, as some state representatives questioned costs and said such agreements could happen without the Legislature's approval.
In late 2019, the Spirit Lake Nation signed the first agreement with officials of North Dakota's Indian Affairs Commission, Supreme Court and Division of Juvenile Services.
"This is really going to be so helpful for our people," Tribal Chairwoman Peggy Cavanaugh said. "This is one of the key opportunities for us."
'It's too important'
The agreement offers "more hope" for the tribe's children, especially those who have family members with drug addiction, Cavanaugh said.
Spirit Lake Nation Tribal Court services are "very limited," she and Tribal Court Chief Judge Joe Vetsch said. Vetsch attributed the limited services to a lack of funding and resources.
"One of the major issues we have is that our children currently receive very few, if any, services if they end up having to be incarcerated," he said.
Spirit Lake's Tribal Court has mental health, chemical dependency and behavioral health counseling services for juveniles, he said. But the state offers much more.
Probation is the most common disposition for the tribe's juveniles, but incarceration is more common than in the state, he said.
"The lack of other services probably leads to a faster escalation of the underlying problem behavior and at some point, the last resort becomes a reality," Vetsch said.
Lisa Bjergaard, director of the Division of Juvenile Services within North Dakota's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Native youth are committed to state juvenile corrections custody at about three times the rate of youth who identify as white.
The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs runs a juvenile detention center on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.
Under Spirit Lake's state agreement, tribal juveniles also could be ordered to the custody of the Division of Juvenile Services, up to and including the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan.
Most state juveniles are informally adjudicated and never see a courtroom.
State Court Administrator Sally Holewa described the range of state juvenile services, including court service officers' supervision and guidance; cognitive and behavioral change classes, even ones unique for girls; and other services through contracted providers who offer programs such as alcohol awareness.
Vetsch said services the tribe could access include risk assessments, a mentoring program for children who have an incarcerated parent, juvenile drug court, courtesy probation supervision, cultural liaisons and in-home family therapy, among others.
Bjergaard said proponents of the 2019 bill assured the Legislature "we would do nothing that exceeded our current capacity" for services.
Holewa said "it shouldn't matter who pays" for services given the importance of improving children's lives and outcomes.
While the state is bearing the services' costs, Holewa noted the agreement outlines "resources, as available."
The state may limit the number of tribal juveniles it accepts for services. A report also is due to lawmakers before July 1 on the results of the agreement.
"We should be looking at what do these children need and not worrying about whether somebody's paying more or less or where the check is coming from," Holewa said. "It's too important to leave to money being the final decider."
'Trying to keep kids in the community'
Spirit Lake has just started to access state services, Foughty said. State juvenile court and corrections officers will meet on a monthly basis to discuss and develop case plans for delinquent tribal juveniles, he said.
"We're trying to keep kids in the community and out of detention facilities," Foughty said. "That's our effort. We're trying to get services to them that we can deal with in the community."
Vetsch estimated the agreement could benefit four or five Spirit Lake youth a month, or 50 to 60 juveniles the next year.
Bjergaard, North Dakota's top juvenile corrections official, was a leading force behind the 2019 bill. She said it was important to include the Legislature, even as some lawmakers said the agreements could happen regardless.
"We just want everybody to get behind the idea of figuring out a way to make this system have some parity," Bjergaard recalled telling lawmakers.
It's also important to recognize that tribal courts still will be the venue to adjudicate tribal juveniles, she said.
"It's a separate process in terms of the tribes feel very strongly that these are their children and they want to continue to own that," Bjergaard said.
It remains to be seen if any other North Dakota tribes will sign agreements like Spirit Lake's. Officials are hopeful.
North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission Executive Director Scott Davis said there are elements of jurisdiction and tribal sovereignty involved, but the pilot "certainly opened some eyes" for tribes about how they can utilize services from the state.
"Benefiting the kids, benefiting the adolescents, benefiting the adjudicated youth -- that's what this is about," he said.
The pilot period ends after July 2021. Bjergaard said the parties involved wanted to build at least one agreement and to "really get a better picture here of what it is we would need to be able to better provide all juvenile justice-involved youth across the state," to further engage state lawmakers.
Davis said the state's Tribal Taxation Issues Committee, chaired by Burgum, could address potential issues before the 2021 Legislature. The committee handles more than just tax issues, he said.
Bjergaard "absolutely" agrees with Spirit Lake's tribal chairwoman that the new agreement offers hope for youth.
"I think we want to say something about all at-risk youth in North Dakota deserving our best efforts to provide them with the care and services they need to thrive and grow, and this is a vehicle for beginning some of that work," Bjergaard said. "And we look forward to rich and robust conversations as we move along this path."
A Bismarck man who allegedly threatened to kill a woman if she gave him a bad haircut is under arrest for terrorizing, court documents show.
Michael McKenzie, 25, was arrested Thursday, Police Lt. Luke Gardiner said. McKenzie allegedly made inappropriate comments to a Great Clips employee on Wednesday, at one point saying he’d kill her if she didn’t make him look beautiful and that he’d come to her house if the haircut didn’t look right. The employee told police that McKenzie appeared to be drunk, according to an affidavit.
Another man who was waiting for a haircut overheard the comments and told McKenzie to leave the business.
McKenzie made his initial court appearance Friday. He is being held in the Burleigh Morton Detention Center in lieu of $2,500 cash bail. Court documents do not list an attorney for him.
A New Rockford man’s attempts to hire men to kill his wife and a former employee of his business in 2016 and his input in formulating a plan for the crimes were sufficient evidence for a jury to find him guilty of attempted murder, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled this week.
Alexander Lail of New Rockford was convicted in August 2018 of two counts of attempted murder, court documents show. He appealed, but Lail “failed to show the evidence reveals no reasonable inference of guilt,” Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle wrote, adding that Lail’s solicitation of the men to commit murder and his assistance in forming a plan were “concrete steps toward the commission of a crime.”
Lail was sentenced about a year ago to concurrent 12-year prison terms.
A man accused of breaking into a Bismarck motel room in October will spend 1 ½ years on probation after pleading guilty to felony burglary and two misdemeanors on Friday.
Samuel Robertson, 31, was arrested in mid-October after police say he and a woman used an emergency entrance to gain access to a poolside room, pried the door open, used the bed and the shower, and caused damage inside the room.
Robertson also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft and criminal mischief. South Central District Judge Pamela Nesvig gave Robertson credit for 67 days served and suspended the rest of an 18-month sentence. She also ordered him to make restitution for damages, the amount of which has not yet been determined.
Defense attorney Justin Balzer declined comment on the case.
The woman charged in the incident, Anastasia Seewalker, is scheduled for a preliminary appearance Monday. She faces the same charges as Robertson.
A man who authorities said shot and killed his friend and neighbor in Mandan in October 2014 and then set fire to his brother's home to conceal the evidence has lost an appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court.
A jury in 2016 convicted Rodney Friesz of manslaughter and arson in the death of Eugene "Geno" Jassmann. Friesz was sentenced to serve at least 15 years in prison. He maintained his innocence.
A district judge later denied his application for post-conviction relief, determining he failed to successfully argue that his defense was ineffective. Friesz appealed. The state Supreme Court on Friday upheld the ruling.
A man arrested in July for allegedly stealing a forklift and leaving a trail of electronic devices across a Bismarck mall parking lot will spend about two months behind bars.
A jury on Thursday found Russell Metz, 50, of Bismarck, guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary, according to court records. South Central District Judge Douglas Bahr suspended all but 60 days of a two-year sentence. He also ordered Metz to make nearly $10,000 in restitution.
Metz and another man were arrested July 2 when a Gateway Mall maintenance worker notified police of an open garage door, a forklift being driven across the parking lot, and a string of electronics behind it, according to an affidavit. Officers recovered items valued at $12,000. The forklift also was valued at $12,000.
Defense attorney Kent Morrow did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The other man charged in the incident died in October.
A Bismarck man who police say forced his way into an apartment early Thursday, held another man at gunpoint and allegedly fired a shot that entered a neighboring building is charged with kidnapping and two other felonies.
Christopher Williams, 39, also is charged with terrorizing and reckless endangerment, according to court records. He pushed his way into a Summit Avenue apartment while holding a gun on a man inside the unit, according to an affidavit. He allegedly fired one shot into the wall, another into the air as the two left the apartment, and another as they neared Williams’ vehicle. The man fled and heard another shot from behind him, he told police.
The round fired inside the unit struck the walls in two apartments of an adjacent building, police say. One of the shots fired outside might also have struck the building, according to the affidavit. No injuries were reported.
The incident apparently stemmed from a dispute between the two men, according to police.
Williams made his initial court appearance Thursday. He is being held in the Burleigh Morton Detention Center in lieu of $50,000 bail. No attorney is listed for him in court documents.
A judge has dismissed the remaining charge against a South Dakota man who prosecutors alleged was part of a 2016 riot at a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site based in part on DNA evidence found on a cigarette butt.
The misdemeanor charge of engaging in a riot filed against Lawrence Malcolm Jr., of Sisseton, S.D., was dropped this week at the request of both the prosecuting attorney and the defense. South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick signed the order Tuesday.
Defense attorney Bruce Nestor on Jan. 16 filed a motion to dismiss, saying the state waited too long to file the charge. The statute of limitations for the offense is two years. The criminal complaint was filed almost three years after the alleged offense, Nestor said.
Assistant Morton County State’s Attorney Chase Lingle on Tuesday filed a motion to dismiss, saying “the Court has made statements that concern the State about its ability to prove” the charge at trial.
Romanick on Jan. 6 dismissed a felony criminal mischief conspiracy charge against Malcolm for lack of probable cause, saying the state showed “that the Defendant was there and nothing more,” and that there was no evidence of conspiracy.
Lingle did not respond to requests seeking comment on the case.
Nestor said he believes prosecutors charged Malcolm because they wanted to punish him for being part of the protests, not because they had evidence of wrongdoing.
"There simply was no basis to charge Mr. Malcolm with a crime in this matter,” Nestor said.
Malcolm was charged in September after investigators alleged DNA evidence found on a cigarette butt showed he was at the scene of the 2016 riot, where they said hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage was done. His DNA was on file from a previous arrest. Nestor countered that it was impossible to determine where the cigarette butt originated or how long it might have been there.
Two other DAPL-related cases against Malcolm were settled in November. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of physical obstruction of a government function in a 2017 case. Nine misdemeanor charges and a felony simple assault charge were dismissed. Two felony charges and one misdemeanor were dismissed in a 2016 case in which Malcolm pleaded guilty to misdemeanor trespassing. The plea agreement covering both cases stipulated 30 days of jail time with enough credit for time served to cover the sentence.
A Carson man is in custody on drug charges after Grant County authorities say they intercepted a package that contained 5 pounds of methamphetamine -- the most ever seized in the rural county.
Michael Eckis, 37, is charged with felony conspiracy to deliver meth and two misdemeanor drug charges, court documents show. Eckis was arrested Tuesday at his home following an investigation that started less than a day earlier with a tip from someone who had received the package in error.
The bust is “historically the biggest ever” in Grant County, according to Sheriff John Foss.
“Nothing has ever come close,” he said.
The meth could have a street value of as much as $40,000, the sheriff said.
Eckis is scheduled to make his initial court appearance on Thursday. No attorney is listed for him in court documents.
Grant County was assisted by the South Sakakawea Narcotics Task Force.
Two Washington men are in custody following a Bismarck police investigation that netted 200 pounds marijuana and several pounds of THC concentrate, and an arrest warrant has been issued for a third man who police say was going to take delivery of the pot.
Police on Monday arrested Kurtis Martin, 31, and Jahmal Abuzuwair, 30, after an investigation and surveillance at a local motel. Martin was in a vehicle in which police say they found $2,000 cash, drug paraphernalia and a pound of marijuana. Police found another 199 pounds of pot -- worth $1,000 a pound -- and 5 pounds of THC concentrate in the rented vehicle Abuzuwair was driving, according to an affidavit.
The two men made their initial court appearances Tuesday. They are charged with four felonies for possession with intent to deliver and conspiracy to deliver drugs. South Central District Judge James Hill set their bail at $100,000 cash. They are being held in the Burleigh Morton Detention Center. Attorneys aren’t listed for them in court documents.
An arrest warrant has been issued in Burleigh County for Colby Dolan of Onalaska, Wash., who police say intended to receive the drugs from Martin and Abuzuwair. He is wanted on two counts of conspiracy to deliver controlled substances. A warrant for Dolan’s arrest was issued in late November in Morton County on two drug conspiracy charges in a separate case.
A Bismarck man who authorities say poured lighter fluid on a Bible and set it on fire at the north Walmart in Bismarck will go to trial in May.
Andrew Ells, 27, on Monday waived his right to a preliminary hearing. He pleaded not guilty to arson and endangering by fire or explosion.
Ells was arrested Dec. 16, three days after the fire. Police identified him as a suspect and searched for him over the weekend of Dec. 14 and 15. He was arrested after employees at the south Bismarck Walmart alerted police that he was in the store.
Police say video from the north Walmart shows Ells going behind some boxes in the garden center of the store shortly before fire appears in that area. He allegedly had a Bible under his clothes when he entered the store. Police say he poured lighter fluid on it, placed it on the floor and ignited it with a lighter from the store.
Eighteen firefighters responded to the blaze, which store officials told police caused more than $300,000 in damage. The building’s sprinkler system activated, which fire officials said limited smoke and fire damage.
South Central District Judge Pamela Nesvig scheduled a two-day trial starting May 5. She denied a request by Ells’ attorney, Kent Morrow, for a bond adjustment from $25,000 cash to $10,000 cash or surety bond. Morrow declined to comment on the case.
North Dakota's Judicial Nominating Committee has chosen four finalists for Gov. Doug Burgum's consideration to fill a Bismarck-area judgeship.
The committee on Tuesday selected the following attorneys as finalists:
Mercer County State's Attorney Jessica Binder
Bismarck attorney Paul Myerchin
North Dakota Solicitor General Matthew Sagsveen
Bismarck attorney Bobbi Weiler
Eight attorneys applied to succeed Judge Gail Hagerty, who is resigning March 16 to focus on ministry work. She has been a judge since 1987.
The North Dakota Supreme Court last month decided that the judgeship should remain where it is currently chambered, in Bismarck. The judgeship is one of 10 in North Dakota's South Central Judicial District, which comprises Burleigh, Morton, Emmons, Grant, Mercer, McLean, Oliver, Sioux and Sheridan counties.
Burgum has 30 days to appoint one of the finalists, reconvene the committee or call a special election.
Hagerty's six-year term ends Dec. 31, 2020. Her successor will have to run for election.
The South Central Judicial District is the busiest in North Dakota and has had a shortage of two to three judges since at least 2009, based on weighted caseload studies. The 2019 Legislature added a 10th judge to the district.
South Central District Judge Thomas Schneider has said he won't seek reelection in 2020. He has been a judge since 1986.