The case pitted the North Dakota State Attorney Ladd Erickson against Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman. He was charging her with rioting for her role in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, in which she was simply a reporter with a microphone, a film crew, and a very effective message. While she never trespassed, Erickson, in a brazen reinterpretation of the Constitution, said she did not have First Amendment protection as a journalist because Democracy Now! has a liberal bias. Today, with the drums of the Lakota and other nations beating on the street outside, the judge rejected that argument and dismissed the charges.
Goodman spearheaded national coverage of the protest with dramatic footage of a chaotic confrontation between protesters and a private security firm with attack dogs. At the time, no major networks or news outlets were covering the protest, which represents the largest gathering of indigenous nations in over a hundred years.
For some background on the protest, see this earlier blogpost. Additional background, focusing on the pipeline, the land it passes through, and the risk of oil spills, will be posted soon.