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Judicial Reform States North Dakota

North Dakota Supreme Court

Pro Freedom
Total Judgeships: 

5 (0 vacancies)

Political Makeup: 




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Can Police Go Through Your Purse?

Tue, 06/24/2014

North Dakota v. Daniels: Daniels was pulled over by police and asked to exit her vehicle. When she did, she left her purse inside. When the police searched her vehicle, they also went through her purse, opening up an Advil container inside and finding illegal pills. She was convicted of two felonies for the drugs. She motioned for evidence dismissal on the grounds that the purse search was warrantless.


The Supreme Court of North Dakota ruled in favor of Daniels, declaring that the officers’ search of Daniels’ purse was without warrant or probable cause. As a result, the Court reversed the convictions set down by the lower courts and remanded the case with instructions to allow Daniels to suppress and withdraw her pleads of guilt concerning possession of the pills.

Read the full decision here

Custody Case Corrected in Higher Court

Mon, 04/07/2014

Nicholas Law v. Danielle Whittet: Law and Whittet had a child together for which Law was DNA tested and determined to be the biological father. They shared joint residential custody of the child, splitting the child’s time between their two homes. One day, Whittet moved to a new home 6.5 hours away and, due to that and other factors, Law filed a motion to gain full custody of the child. In court, Law presented evidence of alcohol abuse and physical assaults in Whittet’s past but the district court dismissed this evidence and granted them continued joint residential responsibility.


The Supreme Court of North Dakota reversed the decision of the lower court on the basis that the court acted incorrectly and erroneously in dismissing the evidence that Law presented. The Court found the evidence to be substantial and that Law should have been awarded primary residential custody of the child.

Read the full decision here

When You're Convicted of a Crime that Isn't a Crime

Wed, 03/12/2014

Coppage v. North Dakota: Ernest Coppage was convicted of attempted murder. He had submitted a pre-trial motion that suppressed evidence of his prior criminal record, which was granted. After his conviction, Coppage appealed the district court’s decision of conviction on the basis that a prior supreme court decision had established that attempted murder is not a cognizable offense.


The Supreme Court of North Dakota reversed the decision of the lower court and revoked Coppage’s conviction. The Court stated that since attempted murder had been established as a non-cognizable offense, that Coppage cannot be convicted of it. The case was remanded and the Court reinstated the jury’s other verdict of aggravated assault.

Read the full decision here