Judge seals UND "Fighting Sioux" lawsuit; AG decries judge's order

Wayne Stenehjem

Lawrence Jahnke

BISMARCK, N.D. (Legal Newsline)-North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Wednesday he opposes a judge's decision to seal all future documents in the University of North Dakota "Fighting Sioux" lawsuit against the NCAA. Northeast Central District Judge Lawrence Jahnke said he wants the parties to move toward a settlement. "Both parties have continued good faith negotiations with an eye toward settling the issues of this litigation amicably," Jahnke wrote in his order. "At such time as it appears to the court that settlement negotiations have reached an impasse and trial will be necessary, this order will be immediately rescinded." Stenehjem, whose office is representing the university, said he believes sealing the records violates the spirit of open records. "The judge nonetheless felt, in the interest of further possible settlement discussions, he would seal the record and we, of course, will comply," Stenehjem said in a statement. While critics American Indian mascots create racial divisions for Native Americans, others say banning mascots like the University of North Dakota's is as an example of political correctness run amok. The NCAA contends the university's nickname and American Indian head logo "hostile and abusive." The NCAA has prohibited the University of North Dakota from displaying the images during postseason play and has barred the school from hosting playoff games. The case is scheduled to go to trial Dec. 10. From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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