JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Thank You

A letter to a whole bunch of really good friends.

Dear Friends,

The nightmare is over. My lawyer says I can talk about it now.

Some of you know about it already. Most don’t. Here’s the short version.

About a year and a half ago, there was a knock on my front door. A kind of unruly looking fellow, probably about 30 years old, dressed in faded jeans and a plaid flannel shirt, was waiting at the door. He handed me a piece of paper and said “Sarah asked me to deliver this.”

I asked “Sarah who?’

He replied with a last name I didn’t recognize, turned on his heel and departed.

I closed the door and looked down at the paper. Turns out he was a process server and had served me with what appeared to be a document telling me I was being sued for defamation of character for something I had written on my blog. Being sued by a former Billings County commissioner. He claimed I had said something about him that wasn’t true. Well, I don’t generally do that.

I had been writing about the scheme by Billings County to build a bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River. Right here on this blog, I had been writing it. But I was pretty sure I hadn’t defamed anyone’s character while I was doing that, especially that of a former Billings County commissioner, who probably thought maybe he was now a “former” because of what I had written. He had lost an election the year before.

That was the beginning of the nightmare.

So I hired a lawyer, Chris Edison, to defend me. Chris did good.  There was a hearing. The case was dismissed. There was an appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court. A hearing was held earlier this month and the court dismissed it, too. It’s over.

But lawyers cost money. My lawyer is a friend and was happy to help. He discounted the bill substantially. But still …

My friend, Clay, saw that I was fretting a bit over paying the bill, and he put an impassioned plea for some help on the GoFundMe website. It worked. The bills got paid. I am deeply grateful to Clay, my friend of more than 50 years.

But I am even more grateful for a whole bunch of people who donated more than $15,000 in just a week’s time to get the bill paid. I have many good friends. I’m still in awe of my good fortune.

Unfortunately, we took the GoFundMe page down from the website after we had enough money, without making a list of the friends who donated. I’m guessing most of the people who contributed to my legal fund read this column or are my friends on Facebook.

So, while I hate to be so impersonal, this is the only way I can think of to reach most of you who helped me, and say “Thank you.” From the bottom of my heart.


P.S. The Billings County Commission meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Here’s a look at the agenda. The commission is not wasting any time moving forward with the bridge scheme. Look at the 9:05 a.m. agenda item. I’m going to be there.


4 thoughts on “JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Thank You”

  • Randy S April 1, 2023 at 10:38 am

    I used to live in ND many years ago but no longer. However I still follow your progress on this issue with great interest. Keep up the battle!

  • Rick Watson April 1, 2023 at 11:19 am

    thank you is enough this time–more thanks later–this bridge is a bridge to nowhere; or somewhere where there are no good reasons to go–it , this bridge to nowhere is the bridge to the kind of power grabbing, broken, mean spirited “development” that develops into a kind of cultural and environmental cancer that is killing this earth–the people who do these things live in delusion and denial and count on the fact that their money, lies and access to power brokers will wear down any one who cares enough to challenge their behavior–thank you, and as we fight our little fight up here Minot to save the Mouse River valley, to fix the messes, to hold the power people accountable, we give thanks for you–the Badlands may not be the LAST BEST PLACE, but it is one of them–

  • Lynn & Mary Bueling April 1, 2023 at 11:26 am

    My wife and I were happy to help out with our modest check. Not enough Davids and too many Goliaths roaming around unchecked. Keep up the good work!

  • John Burke April 4, 2023 at 7:35 am

    Thank you for your tenacity Jim! I have deep roots in North Dakota and follow your blog with great interest. I’m pleased that so many chipped in to help.


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