April 18, 2017

Prosecutor: Sheriff’s ‘removal is not appropriate’

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

William John O’Driscoll, special prosecutor in suspended McKenzie County Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger’s removal proceedings, has withdrawn from the case, writing that a removal of the sheriff “is not appropriate.”
Following O’Driscoll’s April 6 withdrawal letter to Gov. Doug Burgum, the governor appointed Assistant Attorney General Michael Mahoney as a replacement prosecutor.
Mahoney has motioned to continue the removal hearing, special commissioner Karen Klein said, which if granted would delay and reschedule the hearing set to begin Monday, April 24.
Mahoney did not mention a potential date to reschedule, Klein said, and Schwartzenberger’s motion to dismiss, filed in early March, is still on the table.
Klein now awaits the defense’s response to Mahoney’s motion, she said, before deciding how to proceed.
Meanwhile, O’Driscoll’s departure from the case follows his March 20 letter to Burgum in which he suggests “a person trained in mediation” be brought in for all county officials, including Schwartzenberger, McKenzie County commissioners, Auditor/Treasurer Linda Svihovec and State’s Attorney Chas Neff Jr. “so that together they can work on a compromise with the goal in mind of working with each other for the betterment of the county.”
From the motion to dismiss, O’Driscoll also addressed a precedent decision in the ruling of former Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy’s removal proceedings, from which “it is my opinion that the burden of preponderance of evidence to remove Sheriff Schwartzenberger cannot be met and removal is not appropriate.”

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