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Jury acquits Grand Forks man in rare noisy party trial

A Grand Forks man was found not guilty of being at a party in violation of city noise ordinances by a jury Tuesday, despite not denying he attended the party or that it was quite loud.

Brendon Manuel Dos Santos, 23, was acquitted of his noisy party charge, a Class B misdemeanor, after about 20 minutes of jury deliberation Tuesday in a one-day trial over a charge typically resolved by paying a fine in municipal court.

Dos Santos' attorney, Ted Sandberg, said his client was at a party that was in violation of Grand Forks noise ordinances on April 30 in the first block of North Third Street.

"There's no question a noisy party was taking place," Sandberg said.

A neighbor called Grand Forks Police that night after being disturbed by noise levels at the apartment below. Sandberg said officers asked all attendees for their IDs.

"There's no law that requires them to do that. You don't have to give up your ID on demand like that," Sandberg said.

When Dos Santos refused to give up his ID, he was handcuffed and written a noisy party citation, Sandberg said. He said Dos Santos was the only person cited besides the apartment resident.

"The jury did not like that," Sandberg said.

Sandberg said he also represented the man who lived at the residence, who pleaded guilty to his noisy party charge and paid his ticket.

Assistant city prosecutor Sarah Gereszek said noisy party charges do occasionally go to trial, but this has been her first this year. She said the city believes Dos Santos was guilty of his charge.

"The city maintains that there was a noisy party and he was in violation of the ordinance," Gereszek said.

It can be hard to make district court jurors understand the impact noise violations have on residents in more densely populated areas of the city, Gereszek said. In this case, she said the city called the two responding police officers to testify at trial, but lost its local witness because the person had moved away.

She said at trial, the defense focused on aspects outside of the noise violation in question.

"I think there was some confusion as to what the issues were," she said.

The defense agreed the party was loud, but said the way Dos Santos was cited was wrong.

"You have to take that to a jury, because that's a situation where the citizens then step in and say, 'We can correct this,' " Sandberg said.