Judge Rejects 'Rioting' Charge Against Journalist For Reporting On Protestors, But Prosecutor Still Looking For New Charges

from the good-to-see dept

Last week it was announced that journalist Amy Goodman would go to North Dakota to face charges over her coverage of North Dakota oil pipeline protests that went viral. The idea that Goodman was charged with doing journalism was really ridiculous. The original charges focused on "trespassing" but once the local state's attorney, Ladd Erickson, realized that those clearly would not stick, he changed them to rioting. When asked to defend the arrest warrant and charges by a local newspaper, Erickson displayed a complete lack of understanding of the First Amendment in saying that because Goodman's coverage was sympathetic to the protesters, it was fine to consider her a protester too.

Thankfully, a judge disagreed and rejected the rioting charge.
District Judge John Grinsteiner did not find probable cause to justify the charges filed on Friday October 14 by State’s Attorney Ladd R. Erickson. Those charges were presented after Erickson had withdrawn an earlier charge against Goodman of criminal trespass.
Bizarrely, it appears Erickson is planning to hit the law books to see if there's anything else he can find to charge Goodman:
She and her lawyers declared victory on Monday, but Ladd Erickson, a state prosecutor who is assisting the Morton County state’s attorney’s office in the case, said other charges were possible.

“I believe they want to keep the investigation open and see if there is any evidence in the unedited and unpublished videos that we could better detail in an affidavit for the judge,” he said via email. “The Democracy Now video that many people have seen doesn’t have much evidence value in it.”
That alone just seems like more intimidation -- planning to look at "unedited and unpublished videos" to try to find something to charge Goodman over. This is just blatant intimidation of the press, basically trying to get info on sources.

Of course, if the goal was to intimidate Goodman away from reporting on the protests, it appears to have failed. Goodman has pledged to continue to cover the story. The question remaining, though, is if Erickson gets any reprimand for clearly violating the constitutional rights of journalists? It remains deeply problematic that the charges and arrest warrant were ever issued in the first place.

Meanwhile, a documentary filmmaker, Deia Schlosberg, who was also in North Dakota filming protesters was also arrested and has been charged with a series of felony charges including "theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service." So, apparently Goodman isn't the only one targeted for doing First Amendment protected work in covering the stories of protesters.

Reader Comments

The First Word

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Jeremiah, 18 Oct 2016 @ 4:21am

    Wrong State

    North Dakota ... not North Carolina

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 4:26am

    Thanks Ladd Erickson

    Thanks Ladd Erickson, without your moronic action I would have never known about this important pipeline issue in North Dakota.

    I will be sure to seek out additional coverage of this topic and look forward to seeing what your next moronic action will be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 4:46am

    I think we found Whatever, guys!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 4:53am

    There's a rule for that:

    "If you're in it up to your ears,
    you better keep your mouth shut"

    I guess Erickson doesn't know that one...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 5:07am

      Re: There's a rule for that:

      He is about to find himself on the wrong side of a malicious prosecution lawsuit and the moron doesn't even realize that he is completely in the wrong here. Every statement and email he sends is just more fuel for Goodman. If the police are the ones turning it into a riot, they should be the ones in jail.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Michael, 18 Oct 2016 @ 10:16am

        Re: Re: There's a rule for that:

        and the moron doesn't even realize that he is completely in the wrong here

        You assume he doesn't know he is wrong. He may know and simply not care. Even if he is sued for "malicious prosecution", it is his office that is sued (he's protected personally) and, at worst, tax payers have to pay a bill if he loses.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Stephen, 19 Oct 2016 @ 11:11pm

          Re: Re: Re: There's a rule for that:

          it is his office that is sued (he's protected personally)...So if he goes out and harasses someone in his personal capacity he would be liable but if he puts on his attorney's shoes and does the same thing in an official capacity he isn't?

          Sounds like a good way to avoid personal responsibility and allow petty tyrants to reign freely.

          No one should be above the law--including attorneys and other government lawyers. Otherwise more will cross the line which separates PROsecution from PERsecution with impunity

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 20 Oct 2016 @ 10:07am

            Napoleonic Code

            It's part of the Napoleonic Code: The emperor is subject to the same laws that is the lowest civilian.

            Sadly, as with our practice of prosecutorial discretion we don't believe in that here in the states.

            Also corporations are treated very differently, despite being regarding as people, instead they're fined and insufficiently so, for wrongdoing. So a company has very little reason to change its policies if the legal costs are less than the benefits of the policy.

            Ergo, Exxon-Valdez, Deepwater Horizon...and possibly Trump, if he's found some clever way to prevent DAs from prosecuting him directly, instead prosecuting Trump, Inc.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Quiet Lurcker, 18 Oct 2016 @ 5:21am

    Grandstanding or Stupid?

    I wondered if these attorneys were grandstanding - trying to buy votes, or if they were just that stupid.

    As nearly as I can tell, both were last elected in 2010 and are not due to stand for re-election until 2018.

    I guess they are that stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 6:00am

      Re: Grandstanding or Stupid?

      Regarding your subject line, it could be both. The 1st item (grandstanding) usually implies the prerequisite 2nd item (stupid).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 11:02am

      Re: Grandstanding or Stupid?

      probably just the belief that they can do whatever they want because they won't be held accountable? When someone does something they do not like, laws be damned they will go out of their way to make an example of whoever dared to go against those in charge.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        BernardoVerda (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 3:28pm

        Re: Re: Grandstanding or Stupid?

        Well... There is a certain cast of mind, that somehow doesn't quite understand the difference between 'prosecutor' and 'persecutor'...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 5:46am

    Mr. Erickson seems to have taken a bite from the Trump-apple. First Amendment only counts if it's positive for my cause...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    aethercowboy (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 5:52am

    They'll probably claim she was computer hacking. That seems to be the go-to charge if they can't find anything else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 6:55am

      Re:

      Don't you mean resisting arrest?
      Or perhaps in this case they will also charge her with "resisting charges" or "violating your own right to remain silent."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 5:58am

    Ladd Erickson, don't limit yourself, think outside the box

    Dear Ladd Erickson,

    I understand you are looking for evidence in unedited and unpublished videos in order to charge Amy Goodman for her brazen and willful acts of journalism.

    Why are you limiting yourself to unedited videos? Why not edited videos as well?

    What about videos with special effects added? Digitally enhanced?

    Thank you for your ongoing efforts to protect us all from news and information that we should not be aware of. Government censorship and abuse of power to intimidate journalists is a time honored practice in history. The first amendment should never stand in the way of your passion and zeal.

    Sincerely,

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 6:45am

    So is Erickson getting paid (bribed) by the pipeline folks to do this, or is he just that stupid?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 6:52am

    Are we sure that this is happening in North Dakota and not on Cardassia?

    "BASHIR: ... The problem with Cardassian enigma tales is that they all end the same way. All the suspects are always guilty.
    GARAK: Yes, but the challenge is determining exactly who is guilty of what. ... "

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bill Silverstein (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 6:52am

    What about practicing witchcraft?

    Maybe that charge could work?

    Throw her in the water, see if she floats.

    If that doesn't work, maybe charge her with corrupting the youth?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 6:55am

    Bizarrely, it appears Erickson is planning to hit the law books to see if there's anything else he can find to charge Goodman

    Bizarrely? Really? Aren't we seeing this happening systematically for years now to consider it bizarre or abnormal? Throwing the book to see if anything sticks and threaten maximum jail time is the norm. Remember Aaron? He was just one drop in the ocean that was noticed because unfortunately he ended his life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 9:06am

      Re:

      If only the Secretary of State was held to such a high standard. They didn't even have to dig through the law books for her, the laws she broke were quite obvious and spelled out by the Director of the FBI. A nation where the political class gets away with murder while the sheeple are prosecuted to the fullest for the most minor offense won't last long.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 6:57am

    If anything, the cops and the oil company should be the ones being charged with trespassing, no? Wasn't the land they're protesting on stolen via "eminent domain"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 7:10am

      Re:

      All of it was. Treaty after treaty was broken systematically and the natives were treated like animals. Shitting all over someones heritage seems to bring people like Erickson joy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 7:21am

    Every day in the courtroom is one more day she can't be on-site covering the events happening.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TruthHurts (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 7:34am

    Erickson to attempt learning through osmosis???

    Unless Erickson plans to use osmosis to search for anything relevent, I doubt he'll find anything.

    I say this because Erickson has to know that the North Dakota statutes do not come in audio-book format.

    It seems apparent to me that he has to be illiterate, or else he would have already known that the bill of rights trumps any local laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 18 Oct 2016 @ 8:12am

    The irony is that all the protesting and the reporting on the protesting is a huge waste of time. Not that I'm not sympathetic to their cause, but let's be real; It's an oil pipeline and no amount of protesting is going to stop it. Nor will the protests change anything for the future. It's not like the protests or public outcry will make the government think twice the next time they want to grant an oil company permission to desecrate sacred native American land for profit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      DebbyS (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 1:44pm

      Re: the irony is...

      Rekrul, I just got done early voting here in Albuquerque. I should have read the long ballot before hand! However, the process was quick, but people are waiting until election day maybe. On the ballot was a question that went like, should citizens of the city have the right to vote on whether or not [a big transit project destroying travel on a major city avenue] should be allowed? So it was as though we might get to have a say... on something the mayor started work on yesterday. Actually he is doing no work himself, no shovel in his hand, and I'm sure he never takes any bus anywhere in the city. It doesn't matter that I don't think the US Govt has actually given the city the funding yet, though the mayor's contractor buddies may not get their cut, so local taxpayers will probably have to make up for it. At least, should the mayor decide to run for some other office, it is highly unlikely he will succeed as people will remember his giant ego and the even bigger traffic jams, all for a "service" no one wants or needs. No amount of citizen protests of the whole idea were listened to by "leaders/city fathers" who think they have a brilliant idea and everyone will (or better) learn to love it. This happens everywhere, all around the world, so you are right to point out the irony that protesting is useless if TPTB think they are right.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 9:48am

    Let's not forget what Deia Schlosberg was charged for.

    She rode along with the activists which broke into pipeline
    compounds
    and started spinning valves. ‌ This could have
    resulted in one or more major pipeline breaks and spills.

    Put as simply as possible, she was acting as publicist and
    videographer for an actual crime in progress. It doesn't
    matter that she claimed to be "doing journalism" because her
    active participation in that crime [by riding along and not
    notifying police of the crime in progress] makes her a
    direct participant in the crimes she filmed
    .

    She has no defense because she joined that group as a
    willing criminal and failed to act otherwise at any point.


    Amy, on the other hand [and even though she was obviously
    on the side of the protesters], did no such thing and
    simply acted as a legitimate journalist at all times. ‌

    The prosecutor's actions beyond this point are more likely to
    get him in trouble with the courts than do harm to Amy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 19 Oct 2016 @ 7:32am

      Re: Let's not forget what Deia Schlosberg was charged for.

      By that logic, journalists embedded with military units are combatants, too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 20 Oct 2016 @ 2:36pm

        Not quite. There's a critical difference which the court will address.

        Embedded journalists are there professionally, and not as
        co-conspirators. ‌ Take, for example, the journalists who
        rode along with the Marines when they were fighting in
        Fallujah. ‌ One of those marines found a wounded insurgent
        trying to play dead and executed him. ‌ Only the presence
        of that journalist and his camera caused the crime to be
        uncovered and the footage secured a conviction.

        Certainly, some embedded journalists are unabashed cheerleaders
        but even those ones tend to do their job first as professionals;
        never really becoming combatants themselves. ‌

        Deia Schlosberg chose to be a participant in the crime, for
        which her camera was the instrument of her activism.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 9:50am

    It seems clear that Erickson is feeding at more then public trough. He appears to as smart as a box of rocks, doesn't know when he's beat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 12:21pm

    So. I suppose everyone should stop by a police station once a year and hand over everything they own so the fuzz can go through all of it to see if they can charge you with anything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nick (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 1:41pm

    This annoys me. Every time someone does something someone in government doesn't like, they arrest them and THEN go looking for a charge to place. They invariably say that they KNOW they broke a law, but they just don't know what one.

    I am of the opinion that unless you KNOW they broke a law, you shouldn't be able to do anything to someone. And if the charge is false (such as rioting, for covering a protest) then let that play out in court or the charge dropped.

    It's an abuse of law if you go hunting for 100+ year old laws that haven't been enforced or even LOOKED AT for decades just to punish someone you don't like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 2:27pm

    re: fishing around some other charge to trump on her...

    They can do that?

    Does anyone else see the big obvious problem with that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Scott (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 3:21pm

    Democracy Now

    Wonder how much traffic he has driven to

    http://www.democracynow.org/

    That would be a double Streisand

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 3:37pm

    Picking Sides

    What concerns me is not that a journalist might be sympathetic with one side or the other:

    "because Goodman's coverage was sympathetic to the protesters, it was fine to consider her a protester too. "

    ...but rather that our government and law enforcement, in the form of Ladd Erickson and the police, would take one side or the other.

    Her job is to report the situation to the public, which she is clearly doing, whether biased or not. Law enforcement's job should be to keep the peace as the protesters demonstrate, and make sure innocent citizens and journalists remains safe, even if the protesters or pipeline security detail break laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Mayor, 18 Oct 2016 @ 4:03pm

    CROSSING THE LINE

    It appears that a charge of CRIMINAL HARASSMENT is in order!... and, a RESTRAINING ORDER! And it would be important to establish whether there was any "UNDUE INFLUENCE' exerted against Erickson by OIL INTERESTS, in order to remove any criticism of the pipeline! Maybe the ACLU can investigate! .. Please!... no emails!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Mayor, 18 Oct 2016 @ 4:06pm

    CROSSING THE LINE 2

    It appears that a charge of CRIMINAL HARASSMENT is in order!... and, a RESTRAINING ORDER! And it would be important to establish whether there was any "UNDUE INFLUENCE' exerted against Erickson by OIL INTERESTS, in order to remove any criticism of the pipeline! Maybe the ACLU can investigate!


    Please!... no emails!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Mayor, 18 Oct 2016 @ 4:33pm

    CROSSING THE LINE 3

    It appears that a charge of CRIMINAL HARASSMENT is in order!... and, a RESTRAINING ORDER! And it would be important to establish whether there was any "UNDUE INFLUENCE' exerted against Erickson by OIL INTERESTS, in order to remove any criticism of the pipeline! Maybe the ACLU can investigate!


    Please!... no emails!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Mayor, 18 Oct 2016 @ 5:22pm

    CROSSING THE LINE 4

    It appears that a charge of CRIMINAL HARASSMENT is in order!... and, a RESTRAINING ORDER! And it would be important to establish whether there was any "UNDUE INFLUENCE' exerted against Erickson by OIL INTERESTS, in order to remove any criticism of the pipeline! Maybe the ACLU can investigate!

    Please!... no emails!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Mayor, 18 Oct 2016 @ 5:27pm

    CROSSING THE LINE 5

    It appears that a charge of CRIMINAL HARASSMENT is in order!... and, a RESTRAINING ORDER! And it would be important to establish whether there was any "UNDUE INFLUENCE' exerted against Erickson by OIL INTERESTS, in order to remove any criticism of the pipeline! Maybe the ACLU can investigate! --

    Please!... no emails!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 6:07pm

      Re: CROSSING THE LINE 5

      Please refrain from spamming the comments...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 7:09pm

        Re: Re: CROSSING THE LINE 5

        Maybe you should email him...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        John Mayor, 19 Oct 2016 @ 10:16pm

        Re: Re: CROSSING THE LINE 5

        Please refrain from presuming what "spamming" is!... and please refrain from presuming why these repeats are actually here! Mike has been made aware... BY ME!... of why these repeats have appeared! And Mike has every authority to remove the repeats if he chooses! My test!... my experiment!... is finished! And so... all is well with your "world aesthetic"! And so... frankly!... it's none of your concern!
        _____

        Please!... no emails!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 20 Oct 2016 @ 8:25am

          Re: Re: Re: CROSSING THE LINE 5

          If you permitted people to email you, we would have explained the issue you were facing immediately, and these "experiments" (and all the barely-coherent emails you keep sending us) would have been unnecessary.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            John Mayor, 25 Oct 2016 @ 10:09pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: CROSSING THE LINE 5

            There's no "us"!... it's just YOU!... with different "personas"!
            .
            Please!... no emails!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 20 Oct 2016 @ 8:27am

          Re: Re: Re: CROSSING THE LINE 5

          (And considering how FURIOUS you got in emails over the comment formatting removing a paragraph break, we suspect you would absolutely not tolerate having one of your duplicate comments removed)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            John Mayor, 25 Oct 2016 @ 10:11pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: CROSSING THE LINE 5

            You're full of crap!... take a hike!... and preferably in a swamp!
            .
            Please!... no emails!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Oct 2016 @ 9:30pm

    amy goodman?

    meh....she could give an coulter a run for her money. cant say if they found something that sticked i would feel too bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 18 Oct 2016 @ 11:43pm

      Re:

      You should, because while they may be going after someone you don't care for this time around nothing stops them from doing the same to someone you might agree with next time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer
Anonymous number for texting and calling from Hushed. $25 lifetime membership, use code TECHDIRT25
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.