Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Paul Murphy Was Unlawfully Appointed as Foster County State's Attorney
Note: This article should have been posted on May 30, 2016, the day before the Foster County Commissioners Special Meeting on May 31st. The results of the May 31, 2016 will be posted later.
SPECIAL REPORT : Did you know that the Foster County Commissioners will meet at 9:00 a.m. in a special meeting at the courthouse on Tuesday, May 31, 2016? We received a copy of the notice of a special meeting by the commissioners to discuss and decide whether or not the special meeting of May 26, 2016, was illegal.
The meeting of that date noticed discussion of the resignation of Attorney Ashley and possible alternatives, specifically
"Discussion of the State’s Attorney Vacancy"
"Opening of State’s Attorney Position"
Thanks to Commissioner Copenhaver, assisted by former State's Attorney Paul Murphy, the commission was specifically instructed that by law, they were required to appoint Paul Murphy as State's Attorney.
Once again, the commission was instructed that something was legal or illegal without quoting any statutory authority - notwithstanding the fact that no commission can be instructed by any State's Attorney to vote yes or no or not vote at all.
Apparently, thanks to misinformation, and their desire to have a States Attorney appointed and to have one resign, the commissioners voted on and appointed a State's Attorney (Paul Murphy) without noticing the public that it was their intention to do so. Therein lies the problem.
The defendants openly violated North Dakota Century Code section 44-04-20(6.) which states:
6. In the event of emergency or special meetings of a governing body, the person calling such a meeting shall, in addition to the notices in subsection 4, also notify the public entity's official newspaper, if any, and any representatives of the news media which have requested to be so notified of such special or emergency meetings, of the time, place, date, and topics to be considered at the same time as such governing body's members are notified. If the public entity does not have an official newspaper, then it must notify the official newspaper of the county where its principal office or mailing address is located. TOPICS THAT MAY BE CONSIDERED AT AN EMERGENCY OR SPECIAL MEETING ARE LIMITED TO THOSE INCLUDED IN THE NOTICE.
It is our understanding that one citizen was so incensed by this apparent shortcut, that he is intending to file a complaint about this issue, if the commissioners do not rescind (annul) their vote and give proper notice before voting on the next State's Attorney. His objection will be heard at the next Special Meeting of the Foster County Commission on Tuesday, May 31, 2016.