GRAND FORKS -- A northeast North Dakota judge has pleaded guilty to helping illegally transport and dispose of a deer after his son shot and killed it without proper tags.
Scott Holmquist, a municipal judge in Cavalier, N.D., accepted a plea agreement on Monday, April 19, pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges of contributing to the deprivation or delinquency of a minor and violation of protection of big game animals. A third misdemeanor charge, aiding in concealment of game unlawfully taken or possessed, was dismissed.
According to court documents, when Holmquist's son, a juvenile, shot and killed a whitetail buck at their residence on Nov. 21, 2020, Holmquist instructed him to use someone else's rifle tag for the buck, since his son did not have his own. Holmquist later clarified to the Herald that the rifle tag that was used belongs to his other son. Holmquist then contacted another individual to help remove the remains, documents state. He also told his son not to post about the buck on social media, according to documents filed on the case.
Court documents also allege Holmquist encouraged his son to shoot the buck, which Holmquist denies. He said he wasn't with his son when the boy shot the buck.
"I made a mistake," he said. "If I could turn back the hands of time, I would have contacted the game warden immediately and went from there."
As for the disposal of the animal's remains, Holmquist said there was no malicious intent, or intent to conceal what had happened. Instead, he said, the family's freezer was full, and he commonly gives meat away to friends. He contacted a family friend who would be able to feed the meat to his sled dogs.
Holmquist was given a sentence of 360 days in jail with the entirety suspended. Due to the low level of the offenses and the fact that Holmquist has no other criminal record, Pembina County District Judge Kari Agotness agreed to defer the jailtime on the condition that he speak to a hunting safety class. His sentence also includes one year of supervised probation and a loss of hunting privileges for a year.
He also noted that as a municipal judge, he does not rule on game and fish violations like the ones for which he was convicted.
Now, Holmquist said his main concern is ensuring the incident doesn't damage his constituents' faith in him. He plans to attend an upcoming Cavalier City Council meeting to address the council and answer any questions from concerned citizens.
He also said has already spoken with the mayor of Cavalier and the Judicial Board of Ethics, whose members have determined there is no reason for him to step down as judge
"So I was happy to hear that, but at the same time, if I have people in the community show up and they're like, 'Look, you know, we don't feel you should be sitting on the bench,' I'll take that into consideration," he said. "I hope that's not the case."