​The truck that almost changed civil asset forfeiture laws

by C.S. Hagen | October 30th, 2019 | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Design by Raul Gomez

MANDAN — A lone activist delivering a yurt to Dakota Access Pipeline’s protest camps came close to challenging civil asset forfeiture laws, but the state, at the last minute, declined to defend the law in court.

Aaron Dorn, a former National Guard soldier from upstate New York, never intended to stand on the front lines or get arrested in 2016 while Standing Rock and thousands of others protested Energy Transfer Partners oil interests. He simply wanted to deliver a yurt and supplies, stay a few weeks, and go home before the long prairie winter.

But it was not to be. On Thanksgiving Day he set off from the camps to continue constructing the yurt he brought, but got caught up in a caravan heading to Bismarck, he said. Law enforcement said he later tried to obstruct officers while driving on a 25 mph road, but the video footage shown during trial proved otherwise. His truck and all his possessions were seized. He was arrested while most of America ate turkey and watched football, spent the night in jail, and was released on $5,000 bond.

Written testimonies from officers with the Beulah Police Department, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Bismarck Police Department state that Dorn attempted to push a marked police car off the road with his vehicle.

Dorn, 35, was acquitted of all charges, but Assistant State’s Attorney Gabrielle J. Goter still wanted his 2003 Chevrolet Silverado, worth less than $5,000. Stating that the vehicle was used to commit a crime during the DAPL protest, the state began civil asset forfeiture proceedings.

Many of Dorn’s personal items were confiscated along with his truck: his passport, Social Security card, driver’s license, clothes, a cell phone, camping equipment, and he lived like a homeless person for a month. He fought an uphill battle until October this year, when the state backed away from its case, and after nearly three years Dorn drove his car home.

His car’s condition — with 120,000 miles on it — was terrible, he said. Mice had eaten through wiring. Flat tires. Door handles ripped off. Power steering box was leaking, but the engine started up after a full tank of gas and a fresh battery.

“It was my father’s truck,” Dorn said. “He passed it on to me. I’m elated to get my truck back. I was an antique salesman, and I used my truck for everything. Before that I used it in the construction business. When I lost my truck I borrowed a little Toyota to take my daughter to preschool every day. Now that I got my truck back I can slowly pick up the pieces of my life.”

Aaron Dorn, his daughter Lily, their dog Odin, and the 2003 Chevy Silverado - photograph provided by Aaron Dorn

Dorn emailed every attorney in North Dakota before and after trial. No one responded. He kept fighting for three years and lost his home because he could no longer afford payments.

“The prosecutor threw in the towel and said I’m not going to fight this,” Dorn said. “That’s a very horrible thing where the prosecutors get to keep the unjust tools. That’s the problem with this case. People say I won, but I really…

Read more...

Recently in:

By Lonna Whitinglonnawhiting@gmail.comI’m eating lunch at my desk transcribing an interview from a doctor about the benefits of colonoscopies before age 50. It’s going to be used in a blog piece I’m ghostwriting for the Blue…

Culture

​Healing Arts Revolution

by HPR Contributor

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comGraduating from Sister Rosalind Gefre Massage and Wellness Center, Amy Wasvick has spent 10 years practicing Healing Arts. Her areas of expertise include Essential Oil, Cupping, Swedish,…

Thursday, November 14, 6-7 p.m.The Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave.N, FargoAn evening of conversation with multimedia artist Brad Kahlhamer and sculptor Aaron Spangler. Kahlhamer works with a range of media from sculpture and…

Editorial

Have a little respect

by HPR Contributor

By Waylon Hedegaardretiringwithcats@gmail.comDoes everyone find Facebook disturbing nowadays? Oh, I don’t mean the creepy way when after you search for a product, ads for that product are suddenly everywhere like bed bugs. Nor do…

President Donald J. Trump: ‘A Picasso of Pettiness, A Shakespeare of Shit’I am a fan of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, an immigrant from India. He is one of the many reasons I don’t bother going to “Christian” churches on Sunday…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

All About Food

​Out to lunch

by HPR Contributor

By Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comSchool lunch has been in the news lately. There have been stories from around the country about the mounting debt and how school’s have been dealing with it. Michaela Schell and Chris…

The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra’s 2019-2020 season is already underway. The first concert of the season, which showcased Gustav Holst’s well-known and loved “The Planets” premiered to a sold-out audience. The first…

Fans of Robert Eggers’ brilliant feature debut “The Witch” have been waiting impatiently for “The Lighthouse,” and while the filmmaker decidedly avoids any kind of sophomore slide, the new movie will probably not attract…

Arts

​31 drawings in 31 days

by Sabrina Hornung

Each October a number of drawing challenges appear across social media. Think 31 drawings in 31 days. The original Inktober challenge was started in 2009 by artist Jake Parker to boost his drawing and inking skills. Since then…

Theatre

​Razor Sharp Theatre

by HPR Contributor

By Scott Eckernotharrisonford@gmail.comTheatre is something that takes a lot of work from a lot of people. This is something that is easy to forget while watching a good play. Great theatre is immersive. The script, acting and…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

The famous 20th century Southern writer William Faulkner quipped, “Civilization begins with distillation.” Technically one brews beer instead of distilling it, but the sentiment still holds true. Fargo is no stranger to the…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By William Southworthwsouthwo@cord.eduThe United Kingdom has a new boss. Considered to by some to be a British counterpart to Trump, Boris Johnson is riding a wave of political discontent with a can-do attitude and bubbly stage…