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Published September 16, 2010, 06:36 PM

ND May Pay for Lawyers for Sex Offender Hearings

North Dakota taxpayers may be paying the bills for lawyers to represent alleged sexual predators who contest efforts to lock them up for mental health treatment.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota taxpayers may be paying the bills for lawyers to represent alleged sexual predators who contest efforts to lock them up for mental health treatment.

State law says someone who is considered sexually dangerous can be confined indefinitely for counseling. About 60 people are now undergoing treatment at the state mental hospital in Jamestown.

County prosecutors file civil commitment cases against people who are accused of being sexual predators. Counties also have to make sure the person who's the target in those cases has a lawyer to represent them.

A legislative committee on Thursday endorsed a proposal to provide attorneys at state expense in sex offender commitment cases. A spokesman for North Dakota's counties says it's difficult for county governments to handle those bills.

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