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‘Andrew’s Law’ to be introduced in 2017
For North Dakota State Rep. and former gubernatorial candidate Rick Becker, R-District 7, the matter of Andrew Sadek is “pretty significant, worrisome (and) egregious.”
Becker is sponsoring “Andrew’s Law,” designed to protect the rights of confidential informants. Before his death, believed to have occurred between May 1-June 26, 2014, Sadek had been a confidential informant for the Southeast Multi-County Agency drug task force, also known as SEMCA. He first served SEMCA in November 2013 after being detained for selling $80 worth of marijuana on the Wahpeton campus of the North Dakota State College of Science, the Daily News reported.
This past June, Andrew’s parents, Tammy and John Sadek, Rogers, North Dakota, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against defendants Richland County Sheriff’s deputy Jason Weber and Richland County.
Richland County State’s Attorney Ron McBeth told the Daily News a defendant’s motion for protective order is scheduled to be heard by Judge Jay Schmitz Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Valley City, North Dakota.
The motion would not allow further information to be released until after the case, still under investigation, is closed. Schmitz is hearing the Sadek case, McBeth said.
Also in June, Tammy Sadek told the Daily News she was working towards getting bipartisan legislation in place “so nobody else has to go through this.”
“This has been a vision of her and John’s ever since (Andrew Sadek’s disappearance and death) happened,” said attorney Tatum O’Brien, Fargo. “They’re very hopeful that this (law) will go through and will prevent any tragedies like this from happening again.”
Andrew’s Law, according to Becker, is similar to “Rachel’s Law” of Florida, which was passed in 2009. While Tammy Sadek specifically focused on protecting the rights of college-aged youth, Andrew’s Law and the reforms coming from it would extend to all confidential informants, Becker said.
“It became very clear to me that everyone needed to have protection,” he continued. “It was actually better for law enforcement if we could get this type of law passed which institutes the type of reforms that are needed.”
O’Brien said Andrew’s Law would serve as a “sort of Bill of Rights” for someone who’s in the position to be a confidential informant.
“There would be mandated training and safety procedures that law enforcement would have to follow. It’s about making the informant’s safety and confidential identity a priority,” she added.
Andrew Sadek did not have the protection of the right to converse with an attorney on how his identity would be protected, Fargo radio station KFGO reported O’Brien as saying earlier in December.
Becker, who became more concerned as he followed the Sadek story, became involved with Andrew’s Law after personally calling Tammy Sadek.
“I wanted to get her input on what she was looking for in the bill,” said Becker, who added he is not in regular contact with the Sadeks.
From there, Becker got in touch with attorney Lance Block, Tallahassee, Florida. Block, the Fargo Forum reported in July, represented Rachel Hoffman’s family in their suit against the city of Tallahassee. Last June, he was reported by the Tallahassee Democrat as being arrested for trying to purchase $800 worth of cocaine from an undercover Florida State University police officer.
“(Block) is best known in recent years for representing police confidential informants and pushing for enhanced safeguards for their use,” the Forum wrote.
Once Becker became involved with Andrew’s Law, he worked with lawyers and other professionals such as Jennifer Cook, policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota.
Becker and O’Brien are confident that Andrew’s Law will have bipartisan support in the North Dakota Legislature, which will reconvene on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. According to Becker, as soon as the bill leaves the revision stage and is formally numbered, he intends to ask legislators from the Wahpeton and Valley City areas if they have interest in co-sponsoring it.
“With any bill, I want to look for co-sponsors who are probably going to be on the committee (the North Dakota Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, which Becker assumes he’ll be testifying before), who can advocate for it, who might have expertise in a certain field (and) also who may have a connection with it,” he said.
Becker could not give a definite date on when he would testify before the committee, but said it would likely be in January or February 2017.
The Sadeks were unavailable for additional comment.