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N.D. lawmaker wants investigation into Ten Commandments suit

By The Associated Press

Editor's note: Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said on Sept. 26 that University of North Dakota law school's Legal Aid Association can be part of a lawsuit against the city of Fargo, the Associated Press reported.

FARGO, N.D. — The University of North Dakota should not be using public funds for a federal lawsuit against this city, state Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, says.

Kasper said he has asked Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to investigate UND's role in the lawsuit about Fargo's public display of a Ten Commandments monument.

The school's Legal Aid Association is representing five people who want a federal judge to order the monument removed. UND is breaking its own rules by accepting clients who can afford to pay for a private attorney, Kasper said.

"It doesn't make any sense" to allow a state-supported institution to use public funds to sue another public entity, Kasper said.

Candace Zierdt, interim dean of the UND law school, said money was not the only issue when the association looks at accepting cases.

"You can also qualify if no one will take your case," Zierdt said. "This has been a terrific learning experience for our students. They're learning how to deal with a federal case and they're learning what it's like when you represent someone in an unpopular case."

The case fits in with the association's work on civil rights, Zierdt said.

"When you have a civil rights clinic, you use civil rights cases," Zierdt said. "Unfortunately Mr. Kasper apparently doesn't like some of what we teach.

"For me, it's an academic-freedom issue," she said.

Kasper said he was asked by Fargo City Commissioner John Cosgriff to look into the issue.


8th Circuit revives lawsuit against N.D. law clinic

Three-judge panel says activist's criticism of public university's legal aid clinic wasn't proper reason for its refusal to help him challenge 'pagan' statue atop county courthouse. 01.06.06

Decision to move Ten Commandments draws opposition

Fargo, N.D., City Commission votes 3-2 to donate monument to private group; opponents begin petition drive to halt removal. 06.21.07

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