Earlier this week, the North Dakota Supreme Court asked Fargo Judge Frank Racek to hold an evidentiary hearing to help it determine whether North Dakota Rep. Terry B. Jones is a legal resident of North Dakota and can have his name remain on the District 4 ballot for re-election in November, after North Dakota Democrats filed a lawsuit claiming Jones was not a legal resident of North Dakota, as required by law.
Democrats cited the fact that Jones claimed to be a resident of Wyoming earlier this year, serving as the agent for his business there, when he filed his annual report with the Wyoming Secretary of State.
Judge Racek wasted little time and fewer words to send the Democrats packing Wednesday after the evidentiary hearing, sending off a “Wham! Bam! Thank You Ma’am!” note telling the Supreme Court he believed Jones lived in North Dakota.
Here, read his opinion yourself. It’ll take about 60 seconds.
1. An evidentiary hearing was held … Sept. 22, 2020.
FINDINGS OF FACT
3. Mr. Jones started voting in North Dakota state and local elections solely in New Town, N.D., casting ballots on Nov. 6, 2016, and July 9, 2020. During this time Mr. Jones has not voted anywhere other than North Dakota.
4. Mr. Jones has completed and filed a North Dakota income tax return as a resident of North Dakota, paying income taxes on all of his income, whether generated in North Dakota or elsewhere in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
5. Mr. Jones has two vehicles that have been titled in North Dakota since 2017. A third vehicle was titled in North Dakota in 2019.
6. Mr. Jones’ cattle brand is registered in North Dakota.
7. In 2017, Mr. Jones applied for and received a Concealed Weapons License as a North Dakota resident.
8. Mr. Jones’ CDL Medical Examiner Certificate was completed by a North Dakota doctor, and it lists a New Town, N.D., address. Mr. Jones receives his medical and dental care in North Dakota.
9. On Jan. 22, 2016, Mr. Jones registered Jones Brothers Enterprises, LLC. as a foreign limited liability company in the state of North Dakota, and he has been the registered agent in North Dakota from that time to the present.
10. On May 7, 2019, Mr. Jones filed with the district court a verified complaint in which he swore under oath that he was a resident of Mountrail County, North Dakota.
11. Mr. Jones has lived and worked in North Dakota since 2015,
Terry B. Jones has been a resident of the state of North Dakota for more than one year, and will be a resident of the state of North Dakota for more than a year on Nov. 3, 2020.
That’s it. That’s his whole opinion.
Judge Racek, who has served on the bench in Cass County since 1988 and is near retirement, sent his conclusion to the North Dakota Supreme Court by e-mail Wednesday. It’s possible the Supreme Court has already acted on his recommendation and dismissed the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party’s case asking them to remove Jones’ name from the ballot. I’m not going to bother to call and ask. You’ll probably read about it in the paper Friday.
It’s pretty obvious what the court will say. The court;s decision is an easy one, based on the facts present by Judge Racek. So now, it is on to the election. We’ll see if District 4 Democrats can rally around this to round up enough votes to elect one or both of their endorsed candidates and send Jones back to Wyoming.
I just want to add one more thing to end this story. Since at least 2016, Terry Jones has registered his company, Jones Brothers Enterprises, LLC, with the Wyoming Secretary of State and has listed himself as the registered agent for the company.
Wyoming law requires a registered agent to be a resident of Wyoming.
But in Judge Racek’s Findings of Fact listed above, it says “On Jan. 22, 2016, Mr. Jones registered Jones Brothers Enterprises, LLC. as a foreign limited liability company in the State of North Dakota, and he has been the registered agent in North Dakota from that time to the present.”
North Dakota law requires the registered agent of a company to be a North Dakota resident.
When I quoted from Judge Racek’s opinion above, I left out this:
12. A person’s legal residence is determined by N.D.C.C. 54-01-26, which provides in part:
54-01-26. Residence-Rules for Determining. Every person has in law a residence. In determining the place of residence, the following rules must be observed:
- It is the place where one remains when not called elsewhere for labor or other special or temporary purpose amd to which the person returns in seasons of repose.
- There can be only one residence.
- A residence cannot be lost until another is gained.
“There can be only one residence.”
Now I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that Jones was claiming residency in both states for at least four years.
He was swearing to the Wyoming Secretary of State that he was a resident of Wyoming.
He was swearing to the North Dakota Secretary of State that he was a resident of North Dakota.
But… “There can only be one residence.”
Seems to me Mr. Jones was fibbing to one of those Secretaries of State.
I hope somebody can explain that to me. I bet somebody will try.