A Williams County township will have to turn over some records a criminal defendant has requested, but a judge declined to rule Monday, Sept. 23, on whether the township was protected by Marsy’s Law.
Lawyers for Deanna Senior, the former treasurer of Missouri Ridge Township, asked for documents relating to how the township conducted business. Senior was charged in May with a class B felony count of theft and accused of stealing money from the township and using it for her interior design business.
In a subpoena sent in August, Jeremy Curran, who is representing Deanna Senior, asked Missouri Ridge for meeting minutes, records of financial transactions, election results and other documents. Lisa Six, an attorney hired by the township, wrote in court filings that the township believed the subpoena was too broad and that it violated the township’s rights under Marsy’s Law.
In November 2016, voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution, commonly referred to as Marsy’s Law, that laid out the rights victims of crimes have. Among those rights was to refuse to comply with certain requests from a criminal defendant or defense lawyer.
Nathan Madden, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, also argued that the defense’s requests were too broad and should be rejected.
At a hearing Monday before Northwest District Judge Benjamen Johnson, Curran argued that the requests were all related to township business during the time Senior was the township treasurer, and so would be relevant. He also said he was unaware of any definition in Marsy’s Law that would include a government body.
“This would take Marsy’s Law way, way, way too far,” Curran said.
Madden argued that much of what the defense was asking for, including poll books from elections, contracts for construction and road maintenance, meeting minutes and property assessment slips, weren’t relevant to the case.
Six told Johnson that because Senior is accused of stealing from the township, Missouri Ridge Township is the victim of the crime and didn’t want to waive any rights available under Marsy’s Law.
Earlier this year, the North Dakota Supreme Court heard an appeal of a restitution order that required the defendant in a criminal case to pay restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. The defense argued Marsy’s Law doesn’t apply to corporations.
In May, the Supreme Court upheld the restitution order but declined to rule on whether Marsy’s Law applied to corporations or other entities.
On Monday, Johnson also declined to rule on whether Marsy’s Law would protect the township. Instead, he ordered that the township had to turn over some documents, including minutes, contracts and financial records, but not others, including election materials.
Senior’s trial in the theft case is scheduled to being in January.