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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published March 11 2013

Second Dunn County petition against Gov. Dalrymple dismissed

MANNING, N.D. - A judge has again dismissed a Dunn County petition seeking a grand jury investigation of Gov. Jack Dalrymple on allegations of bribery related to oil industry campaign contributions.

Southwest Judicial District Judge William Herauf ruled that the petition lacked signatures from qualified voters and did not have the appropriate verifying signatures. He also ruled, as he did when he dismissed a similar petition last November, that Dunn County is not the appropriate venue for the bribery allegations.

The petition, filed Feb. 4 with signatures of 267 people, required signatures from 205 qualified Dunn County voters. Herauf said in his order that post office boxes are mailing addresses, not residential addresses, and are not sufficient to prove that someone is a “qualified elector.”

He excluded signatures from those who listed post office boxes, as well as a few other addresses he questioned such as a crew camp and an oil well location. That brought the number of qualified signatures down to 156.

Under North Dakota law, the petition must be signed by three “verifying petitioners.” Herauf said that one of the verifying signatures failed to sign the actual petition.

In addition, Herauf ruled that North Dakota’s statute related to citizen-initiated grand juries provides for grand jury inquiries on offenses that are “triable within the county.”

The petition questions oil industry contributions to Dalrymple’s campaign as he and other members of the North Dakota Industrial Commission were considering a controversial “mega-unit” for drilling oil in Dunn County.

The three-member commission gave unanimous approval to the drilling unit.

Dalrymple’s campaign called the allegations baseless and politically motivated.

Grand Forks attorney David Thompson, who drafted the petition, has argued that Dunn County is an appropriate venue because that’s where the consequences of the action occurred.

Herauf said in his order that the petitioners do not allege that the elements of the crime of bribery occurred in Dunn County. A negative impact is not an element of the crime, Herauf wrote.

Thompson disagreed Monday with Herauf’s ruling and questioned why Herauf didn’t address North Dakota Century Code 29-03-04, which Thompson says supports his argument related to Dunn County being an appropriate venue.

“That’s the legal pink elephant in the living room,” Thompson said.

Thompson said he and his clients have a next step planned, but they weren’t ready to announce it.

The last time Herauf dismissed a petition, Thompson appealed to the North Dakota Supreme Court, which ruled that the issue was not appealable.

Herauf also denied a request for a scheduling conference because the petition is dismissed. Thompson said that violates the rules of civil procedure.

“It’s clear that Judge Herauf wants no part of this case,” Thompson said.