Update: ND Supreme Court decision on Criminal Record Seal

Darby Njos | Uncategorized | September 1, 2020

Hey all, just wanted to update you on the criminal record seal case that went before the North Dakota Supreme Court.
The decision was reversed. Meaning that we didn’t get the opinion we wanted and this gentleman file we be unsealed.

They concluded the district court misapplied the law, and they reversed the sealing orders. Meaning that the gentleman’s criminal file was unsealed and back in public record.

This was the big peice in the case that I found the most interesting. One of the judges understood, but had to make sure the law was upheld

“McEvers, Justice, concurring specially.
[¶17] I concur in part II of the majority opinion concluding this Court has jurisdiction. I write separately to address part III because I believe, as did the parties before the district court, N.D.C.C. § 12-60.1-02, is ambiguous. After reviewing the record and the arguments made to the court, I understand why the court found the statute ambiguous and applied the rule of lenity. Why would M.J.W. be rehabilitated on the some crimes, but not other crimes committed over fifteen years ago? That does not make much sense, and perhaps may even be absurd. I tend to agree with the court that N.D.C.C. § 12-60.1-02(1) could be read to mean three years was a waiting period during which an individual must be crime free before filing a petition. However, I have to concede, after reviewing the legislative history, it does not appear that the legislative assembly intended to allow for broader sealing of criminal records as argued by M.J.W.”


We are working with a few attorneys to bring something to the next session to help correct this. We also will be advocating mugshot, digital media reform along with expungements. Please stay tuned and help us continue the momentum with F5 Project. 
read full court transcript here


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