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The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the state's liability for flood damage to the property of five Lincoln County families. A lower court found in 2014 that the state Department of Transportation's construction and maintenance of Highway 11 did not adequately provide drainage in an eight-year rainfall event, and the damage was foreseeable. The state appealed, but in a 3-2 split opinion, the high court sided with the landowners. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of John Eric Hemminger. The Aberdeen man stabbed his former girlfriend to death on Jan. 6, 2015, and was convicted by a Brown County jury.

Hemminger claims that officers should have had warrants to take his phone and blood-spattered clothing into evidence.

During oral arguments last month, Assistant Attorney General Patricia Archer told justices that officers didn't need a search warrant. She said Hemminger encouraged officers to search his phone, and that interaction was recorded.

SD Public Utilities Commission

South Dakota's PUC chairwoman says the Nebraska Public Service Commission is bound by state law, as are the public utility commissions in all states. And so she says the Nebraska PSC had to make its decision to permit the Keystone XL pipeline based on the evidence they received.

Kristie Fiegen says commissions have to interpret state law and apply that to the evidence and filings.

Nebraska Democratic Party

The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted three to two on Tuesday, Nov. 20, to permit the Keystone XL pipeline to cross the state. Afterward landowners and activists for the environment and tribes gathered to declare their continued opposition. Bold Nebraska posted that rally online, and SDPB's Victoria Wicks listened to bring us this report.

To read TransCanada's statement, click on this link:

Nebraska Public Service Commission

The Keystone XL pipeline now has permission to cross Nebraska. The state's Public Service Commission announced its decision on Monday, Nov. 20. But two commissioners dissented, and one of them read into the record several reasons why she voted no. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

A Sioux Falls woman contesting her insurance settlement is asking the South Dakota Supreme Court to allow her case to go to trial. Earlier this year a Second Circuit court granted summary judgment to two drivers in the collision that left Kathy Schaefer injured. Schaefer says she signed a settlement without understanding it, and a jury should hear the facts. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

A woman fired from an assisted living center in Lead wants a jury to hear her grievances. The South Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Shirley Harvey says she was fired in 2012 after fellow employees falsely reported her for slapping and isolating a resident. But her employer says she admitted to the conduct and was legally fired under state law. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Blake Little

Los Angeles resident Gregory Hinton is a writer and filmmaker. He's also the producer of Out West, an LGBT museum series that is expanding across the nation.

Hinton started Out West after visiting the Autry National Center in Los Angeles and realizing the film Brokeback Mountain was not represented in the center's film archives.

From there Hinton went on to get a fellowship at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyo., where Hinton lived during much of his childhood.

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Joseph Patterson. He was convicted in 2015 of killing the two-year-old son of Ashley Doohen and former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The case made national headlines.

Justices have issued a unanimous opinion that the Second Circuit trial court did not make reversible errors, and the conviction stands. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

People who volunteer their time and skills provide community services that might not otherwise exist. The Helpline Center in Rapid City coordinates Black Hills services by emailing and posting volunteer opportunities. And once a year, the center hosts a Volunteer Expo to allow potential volunteers to meet agency reps face to face. This year's Expo was held Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Dahl Arts Center. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more.

http://www.helplinecenter.org/

Victoria Wicks

The Keystone XL pipeline got the go-ahead from the Trump administration in March. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission had already done the work to allow it to cross this state. But still the pipeline is not a done deal. There are appeals pending in the South Dakota Supreme Court and Montana federal court. And Nebraska still hasn't permitted it.

Russell Ray Bertram was convicted of first-degree murder in 2016. A jury found that he intentionally killed his girlfriend with a shotgun while they were hunting in Gregory County in 2009.

Bertram appeals his conviction on two points. He says the prosecution should not have been allowed to introduce evidence of his infidelity to his girlfriend. And he says the judge should have allowed the jury to know he had taken a polygraph.

The South Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments in the case on Wednesday, Oct. 4. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Andrew Bork, SDPB

A Second Circuit judge ruled earlier this year that a newly constructed house in the McKennan Park Historic District of Sioux Falls has to be remodeled or torn down. The homeowners have appealed that decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court. Justices heard oral arguments Tuesday, Oct. 3. Homeowners contend that a monetary settlement should suffice. But neighbors say the huge house is a nuisance.

An Aberdeen man convicted of stabbing his former girlfriend to death is asking for a new trial. The South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

John Eric Hemminger says the state should not have been allowed to present evidence taken without a search warrant. And he says the state unnecessarily introduced 26 autopsy photos, which inflamed the jury. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Terri Leclercq

The Argus Leader sued the City of Sioux Falls for violating South Dakota's Open Records Act. The city entered into a contract with Denny Sanford Premier Center contractors to keep contents of a settlement confidential.

The city maintains that one subpart of the Open Records Act allowed that contract to happen legally. A lower court agreed, and the Argus Leader appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

During oral arguments in January, much was made of the placement of one comma and a shaky concept in legal writing called the Doctrine of the Last Antecedent.

In a case that made national headlines in 2015, Joseph Patterson was convicted of murdering the two-year-old son of former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Patterson appealed his conviction to the South Dakota Supreme Court, who heard arguments Monday, Oct. 2.

At trial, the state brought out testimony that Patterson had a history of harshly punishing other children. Patterson says the evidence unfairly impugned his character. But the state says it was legitimately used to prove motive and absence of accident.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Long-term video surveillance by law enforcement is a search requiring a warrant. That's the decision just issued by a split South Dakota Supreme Court.

The case out of Brookings resulted in the conviction of a drug offender. But the high court did not reverse the conviction. Justices found that the investigator acted in good faith when he installed the camera without first getting a warrant. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Argus Leader in its open records dispute with the City of Sioux Falls.

The city relied on state law to claim it could keep secret the details of a settlement with a contractor. The case involved sub-par metal siding on the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

The Argus Leader sued to gain access to the settlement. A lower court ruled for the city, and the Argus leader appealed.

At oral arguments in January, Argus attorney Jon Arneson said the city's interpretation of state law defeats the intent of open records laws.

Victoria Wicks

A former employee of the South Dakota Department of Revenue pleaded guilty Monday, Sept. 18, to bank fraud and money laundering. Seventy-year-old Steven Arthur Knigge appeared in federal court in Rapid City before U.S. Magistrate Danetta Wollmann.

In a plea agreement, Knigge admitted to two charges, in exchange for dismissal of more than a dozen others.

Victoria Wicks

It's a standard story in show business mythology: the big break, the chance discovery, the Cinderella story that allows an unknown to rise meteorically to stardom.

American Idol taps into those hopes and offers unknowns across the nation a chance to be discovered. A very slim chance.

In Rapid City on Sunday, Sept. 10, 349 competitors signed up to audition, hoping like Willy Wonka's candy-eaters to get a Golden Ticket. Joining them in a long line outside the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center were their supporters: their parents and siblings and friends.

SD Unified Judicial System

The South Dakota Supreme Court has issued an opinion that both parties knew was inevitable. Justices have ruled that a state law requiring out-of-state vendors to collect sales taxes from their South Dakota customers is unconstitutional.

As SDPB reported in late August, state authorities knew the bill was unconstitutional but passed it into law anyway and then tried to enforce it.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has the latest development on this ongoing story.

Victoria Wicks

American Idol held auditions in Rapid City on Sunday, Sept. 10, and 349 contenders showed up. Rapid City is one of 21 tryout locations for the 2018 season.

Two additional auditions at Houston and San Antonio were canceled because of Hurricane Harvey.

The Fox network hosted the talent show for 15 season, ending it in April 2016. Now ABC is picking it up.

National attention has been drawn to a South Dakota Supreme Court case heard Tuesday, Aug. 29. It centers on a law passed by legislators who knew it could not be enforced.

The law requires out-of-state internet vendors to collect sales taxes from their South Dakota customers and remit the money to the state.

Both sides agreed in advance that justices should not reverse a lower court decision that the law is unenforceable.

The state wants justices to clear the way for the issue to get to the U.S. Supreme Court.

SD Legislature

The state legislature in 2016 passed a law requiring out-of-state vendors to collect sales taxes from their South Dakota customers. The law is particularly aimed at online sellers. Legislators acknowledged that the law is unconstitutional, and that they instigated it to try to get the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before the highest court considers hearing it, however, the law and its aftermath have to face scrutiny from the South Dakota Supreme Court. That happens Tuesday, Aug. 27, when justices hear oral arguments from both sides.

Comments made by a Troy Township supervisor were pivotal in a South Dakota Supreme Court partial reversal. The court made its opinion public on Thursday, Aug. 17.

At issue is the vacating of roads in three townships in Day County. Game, Fish & Parks appealed those vacations to the Fifth Circuit, saying the township boards were trying to cut off public access to disputed bodies of water in Day County.

Victoria Wicks

Our warming climate presents a challenge for gardeners as well as farmers. Weather patterns have become less predictable. As the temperatures rise, it might seem that plants from warmer zones could be planted here in South Dakota. But a horticulture specialist for SDSU Extension says not all components of climate patterns have changed, and gardeners are bound by extremes. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Victoria Wicks

Soil in Rapid City, as well as other places in West River, can be heavy and compacted in some places. Gardeners can add amendments but have to be careful not to add herbicides that can harm their plants. A horticulture specialist for SDSU Extension gives SDPB's Victoria Wicks some tips for safe soil amendments.

To see a USDA document touting radishes as a cover crop, click here:

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_022940.pdf

Victoria Wicks

Meat goats and tomatoes are the subjects of tours coming up in Custer on Thursday, Aug. 10. Participants will tour Pleasant Valley Farm and Windsong Valley Garden.

The Custer event is the third in a series of six South Dakota Specialty Producers tours.

Rhoda Burrows is a horticulture specialist for SDSU Extension.

PUC

If you have a phone, and who doesn't, you've probably been annoyed or alarmed by robocalls. Those are the recorded messages that offer credit repair or vacations, or tell you the IRS is going to be on your doorstep with a warrant if you don't send money NOW. Caller ID doesn't help. These days scammers can pirate phone numbers that appear to be local or legitimate. Public Utilities Commission Chairwoman Kristie Fiegen says every time there seems to be a solution, technology gives scammers a way to dodge it. She says the best answer is not to fall for the scam.

Photo illustration by Victoria Wicks

In the final concert of the Chamber Music Festival of the Black Hills, held last weekend, musicians explored overlapping influences on composition. Festival organizers called this last concert "Bach, Brahms, and Brothels, a provocative title guaranteed to draw interest.

Festival director Michael Hill says musicians, including Brahms, often found work playing in bars and brothels. That more relaxed style had a deep influence on classical composers of the Romantic era and the 20th Century.

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