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Stephen J. Lee, Forum Communications, Published August 16 2012

Former UND player Beasley released from jail after activist petitions court

GRAND FORKS - A judge ordered former University of North Dakota basketball star and professional player Jerome Beasley released from jail today, saying he wasn’t properly informed of his rights when arrested last month on a civil contempt charge of being in arrears on child and spousal support.

Local litagational activist Roland Riemers petitioned the court in Beasley’s behalf at a special civil hearing this morning before state District Judge Sonya Clapp.

Riemers filed a writ of habeus corpus, asking that Beasley’s incarceration be reviewed by a court.

Clapp told Riemers his petition was wrongly entitled and needed to come from Beasley himself.

But she ruled that the contempt document filed by earlier this year didn’t give Beasley proper notice of his right to a review of his child support obligations. A similar proceeding and document from September 2010 did include such notice, Clapp said in ruling his contempt charge vacated and that he be released today.

Sarah Cannon, a special assistant attorney general working for the Child Support Enforcement in Grand Forks, argued that the judge who Beasley faced earlier this year likely explained his rights during the hearing.

But the notice still isn’t filed with the court documents, Clapp said.

Cannon declined comment after the hearing.

Beasley owes $204,355 in child and spousal support to his ex-wife, Sarah Beasley, according to state online records of child support liens. The two have two children who live with their mother.

They divorced in 2008 and Beasley was ordered to pay child support of $3,543 and spousal support of $2,000 per month.

Riemers, who is not an attorney but is a paralegal, said he volunteered to help Beasley after seeing news of his case earlier this summer. Riemers won a case at the North Dakota Supreme Court involving his own divorce and support payments, which he cites in his filing for Beasley.

He said state and federal law require that a court determine a person’s ability to pay a child and/or spousal support debt before the person can be jailed over the matter. Beasley still faces his debt, but perhaps can arrange a settlement, Riemers said. The immediate debt is a special bond of nearly $16,000 that was the cause of his jailing July 26. He also served time in the Grand Forks jail in 2010 on the matter.

Beasley told the court he had been in jail in Grand Forks a total of 25 days over the matter.

Because he had played a couple seasons of pro ball for the Miami Heat and then played professionally in Europe at relatively high pay, his child and spousal support payments were set much higher than normal in North Dakota, Riemers said.

He told Beasley after the hearing he now could get his child support level reviewed by a judge. Beasley’s spousal support obligation to his ex-wife ends in January, he told Riemers.

Beasley played two seasons for UND, ending 2003 as the schools’ 10th-leading scorer. Drafted by the NBA’s Heat, he lasted two years there and has played professionally in Europe and in Sioux Falls, S.D., since.

He told Clapp he had been living with a friend in Grand Forks in recent months, looking for a job here as well as keeping in contact with his agent for possible pro ball jobs.

He said he plans to continue playing regularly at UND pickup games to keep in shape.

Beasley declined to comment to the Herald, saying there had been enough publicity about his case.

Riemers long has argued that state courts don’t treat men, especially, well in divorce and child custody cases.

He said child support enforcement methods contradict long-standing American law that jailing someone for owing money is unconstitutional.

“I just don’t like to see anyone thrown in debtors’ prison,” he said.