Local lawyer seeks return to state’s attorney post

David Crane has been there before.

He’d like to be there again.

Crane first became the state’s attorney for Hettinger County in the 1980s.

By Brad Mosher

The Herald

Now, after making it onto the November ballot by write-in vote, the Mott native wants to do it again.

Crane’s grandfather started the family legal practice in 1910.

And shortly after finishing law school at the University of Oregon, he returned to Mott.

“I joined my father, Charles, in the practice in 1982. and have been here ever since,” he explained.

He has spent most of the time private practice, with the firm of Crane, Roseland and Melling with offices in Mott and Hettinger.

The firm has four attorneys, with three of them currently state’s attorneys in the counties of Adams, Slope and, until January, Dunn County, according to Crane.

Crane is hoping that he will win the November election to become the Hettinger State’s Attorney for the second time. The first time was shortly after he returned to Mott, from 1985 to 1988.

“I didn’t initially seek the office, but when no candidates qualified to be on the ballot in the primary, I ended receiving enough write-in votes to be put on the ballot for the general election,” he explained.

“Although I wasn’t seeking the office, the circumstances caused me to reflect and warm to the idea of again being the state’s attorney. Given the times and all the things I see happening in the county … and the fact that I have a long abiding and vested interest in the quality of life here, it just caused me to pursue the office,” he said.

“Since 1982, much has happened. Principly, the oil development has had an impact on our area. We have some challenges that I think I have the experience and resources within myself and within my firm to make a difference in these challenging times,” Crane added.

A lot has changed since Crane held the position.

“I remember getting my first personal computer in 1984. It was a revolutionary thing and greatly enhanced the work product and communications.

“Communications have greatly speeded up with email and everything else. Video hearings and such really makes the reach of the firm and its capabilities so much more enhanced,” he said.

One example of the changes in his office is the large barrister bookcases. “I have to tell people now they are mostly for show because it is now all on the computer.

“That revolution has been transformational,” he added.

That was not the only transformation in Hettinger and the surrounding counties, according to Crane. “The 1980s were devastating, not only in terms of the economy, but population. Since about 2004 or so, we started being impacted by the oil industry up north and to the west and the southwest of us. Our impact hasn’t been so direct, but we have seen demographic changes with the increased population.

“There has been social problems that come with that (growth), primarily public safety and drugs. Those issues have to be given a priority by the state’s attorneys office. There also has to be effective cooperation with county and state law enforcement.

“We don’t get the big dollars here in Hettinger County for our sheriffs department. So, our budget isn’t nearly what it is in the impacted counties. We have to make efficient use of what we have and still get the job done.”

“Meth is a problem generally in the state, but small, sparsely populated counties are especially attractive to to those who are engaged in the production of meth. We always need to be alert to that.

“Just because we are rural, doesn’t mean we don’t experience those kinds of problems.

“We do have drugs in Hettinger County. There is no question,” he said.

“In recent years there have been instances of violence related to drugs,” Crane said. “So that is definitely present.”

The Mott resident said that law enforcement and the state’s attorney have a role to play in cutting down on drug use by students. “They have a role to play in public education, especially with the youth.”

One thing that Crane said he will bring to the office, if elected would be the experience level of his law firm. “Pat Merriman has distinguished himself with law enforcement training. He has quite a few years under his belt in drug enforcement.

“So I think we would have a wealth of experience to bring to bear on the problem of educating the public and educating law enforcement,” he added.

According to Crane, it is his wealth of experience that will be his greatest asset if he was elected in November. “There is also talent and resources I can tap into with my firm,” Crane added.

He said that his partners could handle the role of prosecutors, while he delegates activities and responsibilities in the main office. “They have much more experience than I do,” he said. “I would make the full resources of my firm available to the job,” Crane said.

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