September 5, 2017

Supreme Court rules in favor of Schwartzenberger

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The North Dakota Supreme Court on Tuesday, Aug. 30, overturned a ruling by Northwest District Judge David Reich which denied a writ of prohibition against the McKenzie County Board of County Commissioners.
In February of this year, McKenzie County Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger filed an appeal with the North Dakota Supreme Court asking the state’s high court to overturn Reich’s Nov. 18, 2016 ruling. In his decision, Reich wrote that the McKenzie County Board of County Commissioners did not exceed their jurisdiction by hiring the Village Business Institute to investigate claims against Schwartzenberger and Lt. Michael Schmitz, nor when they placed Schmitz on administrative leave after VBI substantiated evidence of workplace bullying and harassment.
But in last Thursday’s unanimous 5-0 decision by the Supreme Court, Justice Lisa McEvers wrote, “We conclude the district court misapplied our law in determining the authority of the Board and Sheriff Schwartzenberger. We therefore conclude the court abused its discretion in denying the writ of prohibition.”
At issue in Schwartzenberger’s appeal to the Supreme Court was whether or not the county commissioners had the authority to discipline or terminate an employee of his office.
“I am pleased with the results,” stated Schwartzenberger on the court’s ruling. “We need to put this behind us now that the lines of authority have been established and move forward.”

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