BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) – A fired Morton Assistant State’s Attorney will not get his old job back. The County Commission voted unanimously to deny Gabriel Gouter’s appeal.
“I’m obviously disappointed,” Gouter said.
A special meeting was held to further consider whether the Commission has the authority to reinstate Gowther as Assistant State’s Attorney Morton. Commissioner Andy Zachmeier cited a North Dakota Supreme Court decision that made it appear they did not. In the case, Schwarzenberger v. McKenzie County Board of County Commissioners, the North Dakota Supreme Court held that a board of county commissioners cannot limit the authority of an elected sheriff of a county to fire an employee hired by that sheriff.
“As a separately elected Morton State’s Attorney, he has the authority to discipline employees at the Morton State’s Attorney’s Office,” Zackmeier said.
Director of Human Resources Wendy Bent says the Morton State’s Attorney’s office has a “zero tolerance” policy for harassment and bullying in the workplace. So when the complaints are valid, the standard procedure is to fire the person responsible. Gother maintains that the termination process was not handled properly.
“I’ve had what has been an incredibly positive relationship with Gabriel up until this situation,” Bent said.
Gouter now says he will focus on the upcoming election. He is running for Morton State’s Attorney against his former boss, Allen Coppy, who fired him in September.
“November 8th is coming very quickly and finally, because this is something I believe in,” Gouter said
Gouter defeated Coppi in the June primary, 53 percent to 47 percent.
The next meeting of the Morton County Commission will be held on October 25.
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