Book-burning case to get new magistrate

Paul Dorr of Ocheyedan addresses Sioux County magistrate Dan Pluim on Tuesday morning, March 26, at the Sioux County Courthouse in Orange City. Dorr is accused of burning four Orange City Public Library books.

ORANGE CITY—A 63-year-old Ocheyedan man who burned LGBTQ-themed library books last year has requested that the charge against him be dismissed.

Paul Robert Dorr has pleaded not guilty to one count of fifth-degree criminal mischief, a simple misdemeanor, for burning four Orange City Public Library children’s books on Oct. 19.

According to the complaint filed by the Orange City Police Department, Dorr went to the library on Oct. 6 and checked out four books: “Two Boys Kissing,” “This Day in June,” “Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress” and “Families, Families, Families.”

Dorr, of the Rescuing the Perishing religious group, recorded a Facebook Live video on Oct. 19 — during the three-day OC Pride festival in Orange City — of himself burning the library books, damaging them beyond use.

A jury trial in the case has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 6 at the Sioux County Courthouse in Orange City. The trial date has been pushed back several times.

However, if Dorr gets his way, the case would not see a trial and the charge against him would be dismissed. He is representing himself in the litigation.

According to Dorr’s motion to dismiss, the claims against him should be dismissed:

  • On the basis of selective prosecution in violation of his equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.
  • On the basis of selective prosecution in violation of his First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Sioux County attorney Tom Kunstle is representing the state of Iowa in the case.

Kunstle filed a motion on Wednesday, June 12, requesting that Magistrate Lisa Mazurek extend the state’s deadline to respond to Dorr’s motion to dismiss.

According to an April 25 order, Dorr was required to file his motion to dismiss, along with supporting documents, no later than Thursday, June 6.

Kunstle’s motion stated that Dorr did not file his motion to dismiss and supporting documents until Monday, June 10, and Kunstle did not receive them until Tuesday, June 11.

The documents that Dorr filed in support of his motion to dismiss contain more than 80 pages of information.

In his motion, Kunstle requested that Friday, June 21, be the new deadline by which the state has to file a response to Dorr’s motion to dismiss. The original deadline had been Thursday, June 13.

Mazurek issued an order on Thursday, June 13, that stated Dorr did file his motion to dismiss and supporting documents on Thursday, June 6, meaning he had met the required deadline.

“The documents filed included a proposed order, which was not properly filed as a proposed document in Word form,” according to court documents. “As a result, the filing had to be rejected by the clerk and refiled by the defendant.”

Dorr refiled his motion to dismiss and supporting documents on Monday, June 10. Mazurek found that Dorr’s filing was timely.

She also found that it was simply the mechanics of exactly how to file things in the Iowa Judicial Branch’s Electronic Document Management System that caused the rejection and refiling.

As a result of the filing issue, Ma­­zurek found that the state did not receive as much time as it previously had been ordered to prepare a response to Dorr’s filings.

She granted Kunstle’s motion to extend the state’s deadline to Friday, June 21, by which it had to file a response to Dorr’s motion to dismiss.

Mazurek also ordered that a telephonic hearing previously scheduled for Thursday, June 20, for oral arguments on Dorr’s motion to dismiss be continued to Thursday, June 27.