North Dakota Legislative Council has requested a legal opinion from Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem regarding whether or not North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani broke open records laws, and possibly some criminal statues, when complying (or not complying, depending on your view) with a request for emails.
A letter sent to LC Attorney John Bjornson in response to the request indicates that, while Stenehjem will review NDSU’s compliance with open records laws, they will not review the allegations of criminal misconduct.
The full letter is below. Stenehjem will address whether or not there was an open records violation.
As I mentioned in my previous post, in addition to seeking an opinion about an open records violation Legislative Council also wanted to know if NDSU broke criminal statues 12.1-11-05, which outlaws tampering with public records:
12.1-11-05. Tampering with public records.
1. A person is guilty of an offense if he:
a. Knowingly makes a false entry in or false alteration of a government record; or
b. Knowingly, without lawful authority, destroys, conceals, removes, or otherwise impairs the verity or availability of a government record.
2. The offense is:
a. A class C felony if committed by a public servant who has custody of the government record.
b. A class A misdemeanor if committed by any other person.
3. In this section “government record” means:
a. Any record, document, or thing belonging to, or received or kept by the government for information or record.
b. Any other record, document, or thing required to be kept by law, pursuant, in fact, to a statute which expressly invokes the sanctions of this section.
And 12.11-06, which criminalizes a public officials refusal to do his/her duty:
12.1-11-06. Public servant refusing to perform duty.
Any public servant who knowingly refuses to perform any duty imposed upon him by law is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
With the Attorney General demurring, it would be up to the local prosecutor to determine whether or not Bresciani broke the law.
That would be State’s Attorney Birch Burdick, who recently let star NDSU linebacker Travis Beck off the hook on assault charges.