Myron Bright talks to the daughters of Dana Deegan

Federal Judge Myron Bright of Fargo, senior jurist on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, told two daughters of Dana Deegan, Kamryn, 17, (left) and Sydney, 16, (right) that he’s committed to “right a wrong,” and get justice for their mother, serving a 10-year federal sentence, including seeking clemency from President Barack Obama. Bright spoke Monday (Oct. 14) at a forum at UND’s law school, saying American Indians often face unfair sentences because of he unique jurisdiction of federal courts on reservations.

Deegan, 40, convicted in 2007 of second-degree murder of her infant son near New Town, N.D., is in federal prison in Waseca, Minn.

State sentences for similar homicides of infants by their mothers are much shorter, said Bright, 94, who was appointed to the federal bench in 1968. Also in the photo is B.J. Jones, director of the Tribal Judicial Institute at UND. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Read the article: Federal judge fights for release of N.D. American Indian woman

Pointing out Deegan’s daughters, Kamryn, 17, and Sydney, 16, who accompanied their aunt and guardian to the forum, Bright urged the 40 people at the UND forum to get involved in the effort to free her.

“So this is an injustice under the law,” he said. “So now is the time for all of us in the system to take a hard look at it and right a wrong and try to get justice for Dana Deegan.”

Marmie Jotter, Deegan’s sister, said Deegan never intended to cause her son’s death, but was overwhelmed by a lifetime of abuse and poverty she no longer could handle.

She and Deegan’s daughters passed out form letters for people to send to President Barack Obama asking him to commute Deegan’s sentence, which will be completed in 2017.

“Her family needs her,” Jotter said.

More on the Web: For a schedule of the panel on Native American sentencing disparity click here


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