In Motion Prosecutor Says North Dakota Will Ask #NoDAPL Defendants to Pay for Their Own Lawyers


Arrested protestors sit along North Dakota Hwy. 1806 on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, north of Cannon Ball. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

In a motion filed today McLean County State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson – who is working with Morton County on handling criminal cases stemming from the #NoDAPL protests – argues that the defendants in those cases ought to be paying for their own lawyers.

You can read the full motion below. Here’s an excerpt where Erickson argues that the #NoDAPL defendants are really being advised by activist attorneys, and are only taking state-provided indigent defense to run up costs for taxpayers.

As I understand it, Erickson is arguing that the protesters have the resources for their own legal defense but are choosing indigent counsel for the sake of harming the state. In fact, it appears as though he’s arguing that these “activist lawyers” are advising the #NoDAPL protesters to commit crimes to “clog our jails and court system.”

Given that there are examples of #NoDAPL activists saying this very thing all over social media, you’d think Erickson has a strong case.

In fact, he actually urges the court to watch this  YouTube video of a lawyer working on behalf of the protesters talking about this very clog-the-courts strategy:

I’d also point you readers to these tweets from a Bismarck Tribune reporter covering a November “direction action” staged by the #NoDAPL protesters where organizers were specifically referring to “arrestables.”

As in people at the protest there to be arrested.

The government provides legal counsel to people who cannot afford it. Is it right that those resources be abused by people who are breaking the law on purpose?

The motion asks the judge to sign an order telling the indigent counsel attorneys to keep track of their billing and expenses so that the information can be used when the state exercises its right to a hearing to be reimbursed.

To put that into context, consider that through December 9 there have been 569 #NoDAPL protesters arrested for crimes ranging from misdemeanors to felonies.

The motion also says the state will seek to have any fines or other fees levied against the defendants if found guilty listed in their home states. My understanding is that the state doesn’t do this since it’s not worth the time to pursue small fines across state lines, but this is an unusual situation.

The state is not often faced with hundreds of protesters coordinating to get themselves arrested for the express purpose of clogging the state’s legal system.

Here’s the full motion:

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