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Judges Petition Supreme Court to Revoke Provisions for Out-of-State Legal Representation


Water Protector Legal Collective P.O. Box 578 Mandan, ND 58554 701-595-1509


MANDAN, NORTH DAKOTA. Judges in the South Central Judicial District of North Dakota have petitioned the Supreme Court of North Dakota to revoke provision of services by attorneys from out-of-state to represent Water Protectors with criminal charges from protest activities against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Filed on September 11th, the petition targets the legal mechanism called “pro hac vice” representation by which many Water Protectors have obtained counsel from out-of-state qualified criminal lawyers who would otherwise not be allowed to represent them.

Claiming that “there is no indication that local attorneys are unavailable to provide representation,” the petition cites erroneous statistics which inaccurately minimize the number of Water Protectors who would be impacted by granting the petition.

With over 150 open cases without representation, the need for out-of-state attorneys remains significant. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s current stipulation that pro hac vice attorneys represent criminal defendants pro bono (without being paid) has already saved the State of North Dakota money that would otherwise be needed to provide defendants with court-appointed representation.

The Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) encourages anyone who feels that pro hac vice representation is still needed, or that out-of-state representation has helped them, to send their comments directly to the Court. Written comments will be received for consideration by the Supreme Court until October 2nd at 4pm CST, by emailing the court clerk, Penny Miller, at or addressed to 600 E. Boulevard Ave., Bismarck, ND 58505-0530.

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