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Privacy of criminals protected

By Staff | Mar 20, 2009

The North Dakota Supreme Court has followed a national trend in adopting changes to its own administrative rules (not laws) that prohibit the public from knowing the age and address of persons convicted of even minor crimes. This, apparently, has been done in the interest of protecting the privacy of criminals.

Administrative Rule 41, henceforth to be recognized as the court’s Criminal Protection Act, will allow the public to know only the year of birth and city of residence of those convicted.

You might read in the newspaper that “John Doe, either 46 or 47 years of age, of Bismarck” was convicted. You won’t know, however, if he’s your next door neighbor.

The North Dakota Newspaper Association attempted to intervene in this travesty on behalf of the citizens of North Dakota but was rejected by the court, which reasoned on the side of the delinquent members of the Sharks and the Jets in “West Side Story” who told Officer Krupke that they are simply “misunderstood.”

Bailey is executive director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association

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