MINOT, N.D. — A county commission in northern North Dakota is opting to keep private an audio recording from an executive session where the local sheriff’s resignation was discussed.
The Ward County Commission made the decision Tuesday despite some debate regarding how the panel accepted the resignation of former Sheriff Steve Kukowski, the Minot Daily News (http://bit.ly/2pTXIUT ) reported.
“There’s plenty of discussion and concern and questions about how we arrived at that,” Commissioner John Fjeldahl said, but added there was no legal counsel given during the meeting to accept the resignation.
Commissioner Jim Rostad said audio recordings from the meeting should be kept private to keep the confidence of those who participated in the session by phone, including Kukowski’s attorney and a prosecutor.
“I really thought that when we went into executive session, things were shared with us as commissioners on both sides,” Rostad said. “I don’t think they would have shared with us had it been a public meeting. We were able to ask questions that I don’t think would ever have come up in a public meeting.”
However, State’s Attorney Rozanna Larson said there are no legal reasons to withhold the audio.
Kukowski was initially charged with misdemeanors connected to the 2014 death of Dustin Irwin, an inmate who died after being transferred to the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department. Prosecutors alleged Kukowski didn’t attempt to get medical care for Irwin despite being aware of a medical condition.
Kukowski was suspended in 2016, and he resigned in April. The county also agreed to pay Kukowski a $75,000 settlement.
The criminal and civil proceedings against Kukowski were dropped when he resigned. Any attorney-client privilege is now moot, Larson said.
Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com