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2008 North Dakota Attorney General Reports and Opinions 1 (2008)

handle is hein.sag/sagnd0007 and id is 1 raw text is: LETTER OPINION
February 13, 2008
Mr. Ladd R. Erickson
McLean County State's Attorney
PO Box 1108
Washburn, ND 58577-1108
Dear Mr. Erickson:
Thank you for your September 6, 2007, letter inquiring about N.D.C.C. § 11-18-05. For
the reasons indicated below, it is my opinion that duplicate records of the county recorder
stored offsite as a security measure may not be duplicated by the public. It is my further
opinion that a private entity does not retain ownership of records it gives to a public entity.
It is my further opinion that the county recorder may limit the use of personal equipment to
duplicate records in the recorder's office in certain circumstances. Finally, it is my opinion
that county recorders are authorized by statute to charge a fee not to exceed one dollar
per instrument page for noncertified copies of any recorded instrument regardless of the
format of the copy.
Your first question is whether duplicate records of the county recorder that are stored
offsite are accessible for reproduction by the public. North Dakota Century Code
§ 11-18-05(6) states that the [d]uplicate recorders' records stored offsite as a security
measure are not accessible for reproduction.' Although this subsection does not
specifically state who is prohibited from accessing the offsite records for duplication, it is
reasonable to infer that it is the public generally that is prohibited because the other
subsections in N.D.C.C. § 11-18-05 are directed towards the fees that may be charged to
the public for filing and duplicating records. Legislative history is also helpful. According
to the 1999 testimony of the President of the Register of Deeds Association, Dwayne
Oster, counties were providing the private sector with the backup records for duplication.2
Mr. Oster explained that the 1997 Grand Forks flood, which destroyed many of the Grand
1 N.D.C.C. § 11-18-05(6).
2 Hearing on HB 1406 Before the House Comm. on Fin. and Taxation, 1999 N.D. Leg.
(Jan. 26) (written testimony of Dwayne Dewey Oster).

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