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ND man sentenced as habitual offender in pivotal abuse case

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ND man sentenced as habitual offender in pivotal abuse case
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- A judge has sentenced a North Dakota man whose case has been heralded by the federal government as the legal standard for prosecuting domestic violence cases on American Indian reservations.

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Roman Cavanaugh Jr., of Fort Totten, was sentenced Monday to serve more than five years in prison on a charge of domestic assault by a habitual offender.

The habitual offender statute allows prosecutors to use previous convictions in tribal courts to bring a case to federal court, which allows for more severe punishments.

A judge in 2009 threw out the habitual offender charge because Cavanaugh did not have legal representation in tribal court.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision in July 2011, and the feds have used the ruling to charge other alleged offenders.

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