Defense attorney questions prosecutor in Amy Goodman case

Publish Date: 10/13/2016

The attorney representing Amy Goodman, a Democracy Now reporter criminally charged after covering a pipeline protest, is condemning comments the prosecutor gave the Tribune, in which he challenged her as a journalist.

“It appears Ladd (Erickson) has taken a side in the pipeline issue,” said Goodman’s attorney, Tom Dickson. “He has sort of interjected himself into this case to further a political decision, and that’s inappropriate for a prosecutor.”

But Erickson insists he is just looking at the evidence, not siding with the pipeline companies.

“I haven’t spoken to any of the pipeline people. I don’t know anybody down there like that,” he said Thursday. “That doesn’t even make sense to me.”

Dickson also suggested Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem should take over this case and others involving protesters, because he might provide a “more dispassionate view of what crimes are going to be charged.”

Erickson, the McLean County state’s attorney, who is assisting the Morton County state’s attorney, dismissed this suggestion, as well.

“Morton County, they don’t want to get into any of this. They’re just dealing with the cases that come in,” he said.

Stenehjem said in an email that his office gets involved in cases at the request of state’s attorney’s offices, when they believe they need assistance.

“I know Ladd Erickson to be a seasoned and highly professional prosecutor who will do his duty within the bounds of proper ethics and the law,” he wrote.

The Morton County state’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Erickson said he stands by the comments he made to the Tribune on Tuesday. Amy Goodman’s reporting appeared to him one-sided and further video evidence shows her doing what he considers more than reporting, including yelling at security guards who were trying to fend people off, he said.

“I think she put together a piece to influence the world on her agenda, basically. That’s fine, but it doesn’t immunize her from the laws of her state,” Erickson said.

This is after Matt Taibbi, an award-winning reporter for Rolling Stone magazine published an open letter to Erickson, condemning his comments and defending her as a journalist. He credits her in part with the Obama administration’s move to halt construction on part of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Goodman announced Thursday she would turn herself into authorities at 8:15 a.m. Monday. She is facing a B misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass.

On Sept. 3, Goodman reported on a clash between protesters and private security at an active construction site south of Mandan that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said contained historic artifacts. Three guards were reportedly injured, and several protesters said they were pepper-sprayed and bitten by dogs handled by the security personnel.