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7 pipeline protesters take 'reasonable' plea offer

MANDAN, N.D. - Seven pipeline protesters accused of disorderly conduct took what two defense attorneys called a "reasonable" plea offer just before their trial was to start Thursday morning.In exchange for admitting to a Class B misdemeanor charg...

Signs left by protesters demonstrating against the Energy Transfer Partners Dakota Access oil pipeline sit at the gate of a construction access road where construction has been stopped for several weeks due to the protests near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
Signs left by protesters demonstrating against the Energy Transfer Partners Dakota Access oil pipeline sit at the gate of a construction access road where construction has been stopped for several weeks due to the protests near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
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MANDAN, N.D. - Seven pipeline protesters accused of disorderly conduct took what two defense attorneys called a "reasonable" plea offer just before their trial was to start Thursday morning.

In exchange for admitting to a Class B misdemeanor charge arising from a Dakota Access Pipeline protest on Aug. 15, the defendants each received a one-year deferred sentence and a $250 fine. That means if they stay out of trouble for the next year, the conviction will be cleared off their record.

"We're glad to have some cases resolved," Morton County Assistant State's Attorney Brian Grosinger said in a phone interview.

By contrast, eight protesters who went to jury trial last week received fines of $1,250 or more. Some with criminal histories also got suspended instead of deferred sentences, which cannot be wiped off their record. One attorney at the sentencing said it was the largest fine he'd ever seen for a disorderly conduct case.

Kent Morrow, who represented a woman from Fort Totten, said he believed his client took the deal Thursday to avoid the possibility of a lifelong criminal conviction and additional fines.

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"Especially with the disorderlies, it seemed a reasonable way to resolve these cases," Morrow said.

Both Morrow and Bobbi Weiler, who represented a man from Wakpala, S.D., said Grosinger indicated he would make a similar offer to other protesters with minimal criminal histories who are charged with disorderly conduct.

Grosinger declined to confirm whether he would offer the same deal in future cases.

"We do try to look at every case individually," he said.

Related Topics: DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINECRIME
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