Mandan News

Morton takes action to control disruptive speakers

The Morton County Commission on Tuesday set a new policy that allows it to remove or jail foul-mouthed speakers or those who scream at their meetings.

Morton County Commissioners decided they can fine those disruptive in their testimony no more than $5 or jail them no more than 24 hours as state law allows in Century Code 11-1-10, said County Commissioner Andy Zachmeier. Fines would be paid to the jurisdiction of the district court.

Zachmeier said the decision was driven by recent zoning and road disputes at the September and October meetings, where screaming and swearing continued for lengthy periods.

He said there is a difference between freedom of speech while testifying about issues and using swear words or pointing at a neighbor to threaten him. He said that behavior disrupts the meeting and makes it difficult to make a sound decision.

“We’ll let them testify as long as they want as long as it is respectful, on topic, is relevant and they are not repeating themselves,” he said
A warning would be given first to a person who gets out of hand testifying, according to Zachmeier. He said next a deputy would be called in to remove someone who remains disruptive. A person who still doesn’t cooperate may be fined or jailed, Zachmeier said.

By LeAnn Eckroth