Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Francis

Supreme Court of North Dakota

July 20, 2016

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Curtis Vernon Francis, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Stutsman County, Southeast Judicial District, the Honorable Thomas E. Merrick, Judge.

         AFFIRMED.

          Katherine M. Naumann (argued), Assistant State's Attorney, plaintiff and appellee.

          Ariston E. Johnson (argued), for defendant and appellant. Lori S. Mickelson, Office of the Attorney General, for amicus curiae North Dakota Attorney General.

          Kapsner, Justice.

         [¶ 1] Curtis Francis appeals from a criminal judgment after conditionally pleading guilty to gathering signatures within 100 feet of a polling place. We conclude the electioneering law he was charged under does not violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and it is a reasonable restriction on the North Dakota Constitution's initiated ballot measure provision. We also conclude Francis has failed to show he was selectively prosecuted. We affirm the judgment.

         I

         [¶ 2] Francis and another man, Michael Dax, were collecting signatures near the Jamestown Civic Center, a designated polling place, on voting day. They were doing so in an effort to get an initiated measure regarding environmental concerns placed on the next ballot. While they were collecting signatures, it began to rain. They moved under a canopy covering an entrance to the polling place. They continued collecting signatures as individuals walked past them to vote.

         [¶ 3] One voter told an election clerk about Francis and Dax's activities. The clerk informed the county auditor. The auditor, along with a plain-clothed security officer, went to speak with Francis and Dax. They informed the two it was illegal to collect signatures within 100 feet of a polling place. Dax began arguing with the auditor; Francis continued collecting signatures. A police officer was dispatched. The officer confiscated the signatures, but did not arrest Francis or Dax. After the incident, the officer forwarded a report to the county prosecutor.

         [¶ 4] The prosecutor filed charges against Francis for collecting signatures within 100 feet of an open polling place in violation of N.D.C.C. § 16.1-10-06.2. Francis filed a motion to dismiss the charges. He argued the law infringes upon his right to free speech and violates the North Dakota Constitution's ballot initiative provision. He also argued he was selectively prosecuted because of his support for the environmental initiative in a county where the measure was unpopular. He asserted others, both supporting and opposing the same initiated measure, broke the same election law but were not prosecuted in other counties based on the popularity of the initiated measure in that county. The district court denied Francis's motion. Francis conditionally pled guilty and appealed.

         II

         [¶ 5] On appeal, Francis argues N.D.C.C. § 16.1-10-06.2 is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment both on its face and as applied to him.

         [¶ 6] We review constitutional challenges to a statute de novo. Teigen v. State, 2008 ND 88, ¶ 7, 749 N.W.2d 505. "All regularly enacted statutes carry a strong presumption of constitutionality.... The presumption of constitutionality is so strong that a statute will not be declared unconstitutional unless its invalidity is, in the court's judgment, beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Baxter, 2015 ND 107, ¶ 5, 863 N.W.2d 208 (quoting Beylund v. Levi, 2015 ND 18, ¶ 17, 859 N.W.2d 403).

         [¶ 7] Section 16.1-10-06.2, N.D.C.C., provides:

A person may not approach a person attempting to enter a polling place, or who is in a polling place, for the purpose of selling, soliciting for sale, advertising for sale, or distributing any merchandise, product, literature, or service. A person may not approach a person attempting to enter a polling place, who is in a polling place, or who is leaving a polling place for the purpose of gathering signatures for any reason. These prohibitions apply in any polling place or within one hundred feet [30.48 meters] from any entrance leading into a polling place while it is open for voting.

         A

         [¶ 8] Francis argues N.D.C.C. § 16.1-10-06.2 is unconstitutional because it violates his right to free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The State asserts it is a constitutional time, place, and manner restriction on speech.

[E]ven in a public forum the government may impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place, or manner of protected speech, provided the restrictions are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and that ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.