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Judge dismisses criminal charges against North Dakota lawyer

Robert Bolinske Sr. was kept in jail over a weekend in 2019 without being formally charged. The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled his rights were violated, and now the case against him has been

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Robert Virgil Bolinske Sr.
Submitted photo
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BISMARCK — Nearly three years after a Bismarck attorney’s rights were violated because he was kept in jail for three days without formally being charged, the criminal case that sparked his arrest has been dismissed.

District Judge Tristan Van de Streek ordered on Wednesday, July 20, that the guilty verdict for Robert Virgil Bolinske Sr. be vacated.

Bolinske faced terrorizing and harassment charges after his son, Robert Bolinske Jr., alleged the father left threatening messages at his office on Oct. 14, 2018. Bolinske acknowledged leaving the voicemails but claimed that his intent in leaving the messages was to inform his son that he was suing him. He claimed he didn’t intend to harm his son.

Bolinske Sr. declined to come into the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department the week the allegations were made but offered to come in the following week, according to court filings. A sheriff's deputy found Bolinske Sr. where he was working on Oct. 18, 2019, and arrested him.

The attorney asked to see a judge but was taken to the Burleigh Morton Detention Center for booking. By the time that was done, the courthouse had closed.

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That led to Bolinske Sr. remaining in jail until the afternoon of Oct. 21, 2019, almost 75 hours after he was taken into custody. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled a judge must find probable cause to hold someone within 48 hours of their arrest.

North Dakota courts are not open on weekends, which can result in that rule being violated. That is a seemingly rare incident, and several district courts in the state have processes to review cases during the weekend to prevent that violation of the Fourth Amendment.

However, that didn’t happen in Bolinske Sr.’s case. He didn't appear in court before a judge until that Monday.

A jury acquitted the attorney on the terrorizing charge but found him guilty of harassment. Earlier this year, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled Bolinske Sr.’s rights were violated. That sent the case back to Burleigh County District Court so it could decide whether the harassment charge should be dismissed.

The Forum has reached out to Bolinske Jr. and Bolinske Sr. but did not hear back as of publication time.

Bolinske Sr. ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the North Dakota Supreme Court in 2016.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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