Confidential informant bill, known as ‘Andrew’s Law,’ undergoes revisions to strengthen bill

BISMARCK — A committee of House and Senate lawmakers approved a bill Friday, April 14, that proponents said will add protections for confidential informants used by North Dakota law enforcement.

House Bill 1221, known as “Andrew’s Law,” is named after Andrew Sadek, a North Dakota State College of Science student who was found dead after working undercover for police to earn a lesser sentence for a drug charge he faced. Autopsy results were inconclusive, but Sadek’s parents argue their son was murdered because of his work as a confidential informant.

Tammy Sadek, Andrew’s mother, criticized changes made in the Senate last month that she said weakened the bill. But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson, said at the time it would be hashed out in a conference committee.

On Friday afternoon, that committee approved a new bill that requires law enforcement agencies to undergo training before using confidential informants and mandates that the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board write rules that “execute reasonable protective measures for a confidential informant.”

The bill also requires law enforcement agencies to execute a written agreement with an informant. The agreement must include the informant’s right to speak with an attorney and to stop working as an informant, along with other stipulations.

The attorney general would be required to authorize an independent investigation if a confidential informant dies.

Tim O’Keeffe, an attorney representing the Sadeks, said he had seen a bill draft Thursday and was “comfortable” with the direction lawmakers were going.

“From the revised bill that was being put forward, I thought it was a good compromise and a good start in reforming the situation that in my mind is clearly a problem,” he said.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, said he was “satisfied” with the new legislation.

“It absolutely sets up a statutory framework for safeguards and benefits for confidential informants who are working with law enforcement,” Armstrong said. “The concern with the original bill was never the idea or concept of confidential informant reform. The concern was the unintended consequences of some of the language of the original bill.”

The bill now awaits action on the House and Senate floor.