Whoops: NDSU And The City Of Fargo May Have Violated The State Constitution

Earlier today I posted an email obtained from a law enforcement source in Fargo in which a Fargo Police Department official calls for a lobbying effort to have the Legislature reinstate an agreement with NDSU campus police recently struck down by the state Supreme Court. The agreement allows the campus cops to patrol off campus. I wondered if maybe the Fargo officials are so intent on seeing it reinstated because they were getting the proceeds from the fines created by the campus cops while state taxpayers and university students paid the bills.

Now comes this:

FARGO (KFGO-AM) – Attorneys connected to a North Dakota Supreme Court ruling which concluded that NDSU police have no jurisdiction off campus claim the distribution of fines by campus police to the city of Fargo violated the North Dakota Constitution. Court documents obtained by KFGO News claim that fines and fees collected by NDSU Police are being illegally funneled to the city of Fargo.

Fargo attorney Charlie Sheeley, who successfully argued that case, says the law is clear. “The Constitution requires that the fines and fees generated by those state employees should have gone to the state (common schools trust) fund,” Sheeley said.

House Majority Leader Al Carlson is requesting an attorney general’s opinion on how to proceed, but the text of Article IX of the state constitution seems pretty clear (emphasis mine): “Distributions from the common schools trust fund, together with the net proceeds of all fines for violation of state laws and all other sums which may be added by law, must be faithfully used and applied each year for the benefit of the common schools of the state and no part of the fund must ever be diverted, even temporarily, from this purpose or used for any purpose other than the maintenance of common schools as provided by law.”

Again, this is pretty egregious. The state taxpayers and the students, through their tuition dollars, foot the bills for the campus cops while the City of Fargo gets the revenues.

That’s something well beyond disputes over jurisdiction.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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