Tuntland's Final Argument

November 17, 2010

Tuntland said the jury had been hearing Bakke talk about a whistleblower complaint and that there is no such thing as a whistleblower complaint.  He said there is activity you can engage in for which you cannot be punished, that's whistleblower activity.  He said in North Dakota an employee cannot be penalized for reporting a violation or a suspected violation of law.  He said Long reported Armstrong's journal to law enforcement, that was clearly a suspected violation of law.  He said Long also refused to participate in actions he believed to be in violation of state or federal law.  This was in regards to the Hatch Act and the alleged Chamber of Commerce letter writing campaign.  He said that the jury had been hearing that Bjornson said there was no violation, but that is not what Bjornson said at the time. 

Tuntland said Bakke had said the culture at WSI didn't mean anything, but Tuntland said that if there was a history of retaliation at WSI it is more likely there would be continued retaliation at WSI.  He said we have an employee with an impeccable employee record who engaged in protected whistleblower activity and is retaliated against within one month. 

He said Bakke continues to say there is not a single document that said they were retaliating.  He asked the jury if they expected WSI to write down, yes, we do intend to retalitate against you. 

He said we're told that Halvorson suspended Long, but in point of fact his dismissal was signed by Sandy Blunt.  The same Blunt who returned under a cloud at WSI and recreated a handwritten memo to get rid of Long. 

Tuntland brought up the issue of the accused in the case being the arbiter.  Tuntland said "how many criminal suspects can tell witnesses against them, say my lawyer will listen to what you tell the cops, I can fire you, but you have the right to remain silent?" 

Regarding that handwritten side file that Bakke said was conveniently missing, Tuntland said that implied Jim stole it, but if there ever had been a side file it was placed in a candy drawer accessible to all employees. 

Tuntland challenged Halvorson had not had enough time to supervise Jim to properly evaluate him.

Tuntland noted that in Long's request to the AG for whistleblower protection, he wrote down the immediate items that came to his mind and said he would put together a more complete list, which he did submit to the States Attorney.  He told WSI to get those complaints from the States Attorney.  WSI did not.  Tuntland said we are asked to believe Long somehow did something wrong, but it was important to remember that Long's allegations were never investigated.   Never. 

Regarding Justin Data's email, Tuntland said it said that things were going along fine with the ITTP project until Sandy Blunt left and now he understood that Long had problems with his superior.  Long had only one superior at that time, John Halvorson. 

Bakke told the jury that Jim had given a statement to Rob Forward that he wasn't in Armstrong's office.  Tuntland asked the jury to read that statement and then read independent reports, that WSI misstated things.  Tuntland said that's not what the Forward report stated. 

As to the two different reports Long gave about getting this journal, Tuntland said at his first meeting with Mike Quinn at BCI, Long decided to take the heat.  But when he was questioned under oath, he told the truth that Grinsteinner had taken the journal.  He noted that Grinsteinner also, under oath, stated that she had taken the journal and that Grinsteinner's testimony was not impeached. 

Tuntland said there had been alot of allegations that Long was insubordinate.  He said that when he was in the marines, telling a superior officer to their face that they're an idiot was insubordination, but sitting around the barracks and telling fellow marines that a superior officer was an idiot was just talk. 

Tuntland said we have a whistleblower here.  The guy he blew the whistle on started retaliating against him the day he got back to WSI.  This was a signal not just for Long, but for all WSI employees. 

No comments: