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Monday trial of 10 pipeline protesters postponed

MANDAN, N.D.--The first pipeline protester trial scheduled to start Monday morning was postponed after the judge learned that not all 10 defendants had received all the evidence from the prosecutor.

Eugene Dauenhauer, left, and son Daryl Dauenhauer of Mandan needed to walk past a group of protesters as they made their way into the Morton County Courthouse in Mandan on Monday morning for other business. The protesters were also inside the courthouse where a jury selection process was underway for 10 protesters involved with arrests at the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune.
Eugene Dauenhauer, left, and son Daryl Dauenhauer of Mandan needed to walk past a group of protesters as they made their way into the Morton County Courthouse in Mandan on Monday morning for other business. The protesters were also inside the courthouse where a jury selection process was underway for 10 protesters involved with arrests at the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune.

MANDAN, N.D.-The first pipeline protester trial scheduled to start Monday morning was postponed after the judge learned that not all 10 defendants had received all the evidence from the prosecutor.

Only one of the nine defense attorneys involved in the case had received about three hours of aerial video and 500-plus photos of the protest site from law enforcement, said Sandra Freeman, who was present during the closed proceeding. Freeman is the criminal case coordinator for the Water Protector Legal Collective, a group that assists Dakota Access Pipeline protesters with their cases.

South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland reset the trial for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, according to the Morton County court clerk's office.

Freeman said she did not believe there was bad intent behind the prosecution's failure to turn over the evidence.

"The volume of what is happening here is quite large," she said. "It doesn't seem to anybody that he was trying to hide things."

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Ladd Erickson, who is prosecuting the case for Morton County, said after court that part of the problem was that some of the defense attorneys had been appointed in the past week.

Some of the defendants met their attorneys for the first time in the courthouse hallway on Monday morning.

Joe Haythorn, of Oregon, one of the protesters charged in the case, said he was glad for the continuance.

"I learned of (the additional evidence) today," Haythorn said. "That was nice to hear about, the 500-plus photos and something like three hours cumulative video.

"I'm just happy that the judge saw through to the point of view that we agree with, which we obviously think is the just one," said Haythorn, who was accompanied by his father and sister at the courthouse.

Thirty-four jurors showed up at the Morton County Courthouse for potential service on Monday, but they were dismissed around 11 a.m., when the case was continued. A total of 65 people were called for jury duty, according to the clerk's office.

The case involves 10 people charged with disorderly conduct on Aug. 11, one of the first days of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. A police affidavit filed in the case accuses the defendants of pushing through law enforcement lines or police tape to access a work site on Highway 1806 in Morton County.

In court documents filed Friday, Feland deferred ruling on Erickson's motion to exclude issues of tribal sovereignty, the concerns about the Dakota Access Pipeline and "any other social or political cause." She wrote in her order that the defendants did not have adequate time before trial to respond to the motion, which was filed Dec. 12. Erickson could raise objections if such issues arose at trial, she wrote.

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The defendants are from nine states, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon and Hawaii. They range in age from 23 to 57 years old.

The defendants include Sara Jumping Eagle, a doctor and wife of former congressional candidate Chase Iron Eyes. Two of the 10 defendants have additional open cases relating to pipeline arrests.

There are two more pipeline protester trials scheduled for this week on Tuesday and Friday.

A total of 571 people have been arrested in connection with the pipeline protests, according to the Morton County Sheriff's Department.

Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and $1,500 in fines.

Related Topics: DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINECRIME
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