BISMARCK — The North Dakota Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal related to a petition effort calling for a grand jury to investigate allegations of bribery against Gov. Jack Dalrymple, but a similar petition is being readied for submission.
In a one-page order issued Thursday, the Supreme Court said the ruling by Southwest Judicial District Judge William Herauf to dismiss the case is not appealable.
Herauf ruled that Dunn County was not the appropriate venue for the petition. Herauf’s Nov. 21 ruling also said the petition did not have enough signatures from qualified Dunn County voters to meet the requirements of a citizen-initiated grand jury process.
Grand Forks Attorney David Thompson said he is “surprised and deeply disappointed” that the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without an explanation and before he filed his brief outlining his case.
“I’ve never had a court simply dismiss an appeal as not appealable without issuing an opinion or rationale or legal authority,” Thompson said.
North Dakota is one of six states that allows a citizen-initiated grand jury process, Thompson said. Both New Mexico and Oklahoma have similar laws and have considered appeals, Thompson said.
The petition alleges that oil industry campaign contributions accepted by Dalrymple’s campaign could be considered bribery.
Dalrymple serves as chairman of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which was considering a controversial “mega-unit” for drilling oil in Dunn County about the same time he received some of the contributions from individuals or groups tied to some of the oil companies involved. The project received unanimous approval from the commission.
Dalrymple’s campaign called the allegations baseless and politically motivated.
Ellen Chaffee, one of the people circulating a second petition, said it now has close to 300 signatures and it requires 202.
Chaffee ran as a lieutenant governor candidate with Democrat Ryan Taylor in the recent election against Dalrymple. Chaffee’s husband is a native of Dunn County and his family is affected by the decision. She said her interest in helping with the petition relates to her family’s concerns, not politics.
“This has nothing to do with politics. It’s not a matter of right vs. left. It’s a matter of right vs. wrong,” said Chaffee, who can’t sign the petition herself because she doesn’t live in Dunn County.
More people have indicated they want to sign the petition and Chaffee expects it will be submitted to Dunn County within the next two weeks.
This time, organizers are getting additional signatures in case the judge finds some to be questionable.
Thompson believes that Dunn County is an appropriate venue for the case because the consequences of the actions occurred there. The new petition contains references to the North Dakota Century Code to support his position.
Herauf said in his order that Burleigh County would be the appropriate venue because that is where the governor’s office is, where the Industrial Commission meets and there is no indication that Dalrymple received campaign contributions in Dunn County.