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Associated Press, Published July 06 2011

Court: Man accused of beating can be charged

BISMARCK — A federal appeals court says a Fort Totten man accused of hitting his common-law wife can be charged with a more severe count of domestic assault based on his convictions in a tribal court.

Roman Cavanaugh Jr. will likely face a charge of domestic assault by a habitual offender, which could carry up to 10 years in prison. To charge Cavanaugh as a habitual offender, federal prosecutors used Cavanaugh's convictions on other abuse charges in a Spirit Lake Tribe court.

The 35-year-old Cavanaugh argued that the tribal court convictions shouldn't count because that court did not provide an attorney.

But the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that Cavanaugh's convictions can be used because the U.S. Constitution's guaranteed right to an attorney didn't apply in the tribal court.