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The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals is now deliberating the federal lawsuit alleging unlawful handling of emergency hearings in Pennington County. Three appellate judges heard oral arguments in St. Paul on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Two tribes, along with Native parents, filed suit almost five years ago against the Seventh Circuit Court, the Pennington County State's Attorney, and the state Department of Social Services. They say officials in these agencies violate the Indian Child Welfare Act, as well as due process protections under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Five years ago tribes and parents sued state and county officials in Pennington County for violating the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA. On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from those officials' lawyers, who say their clients should not have been sued because they didn't create the questioned policies. The officials are appealing a federal judge's decision that forced changes in the way emergency hearings are held in child custody cases. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

The Indian Child Welfare Act lawsuit filed in Rapid City's federal court almost five years ago is going to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel is hearing oral arguments in St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

In March 2013, the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes, as well as tribal parents, brought suit against state officials in Pennington County. They claim the process for handling abuse and neglect cases routinely violates ICWA and due process rights.

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Christopher Dean Kryger, who raped and strangled a Sioux Falls woman in her home in 2014.

Kryger appealed his conviction, saying the judge made errors at trial that prejudiced the jury against him, and that there wasn't enough evidence to support a guilty verdict.

At oral arguments last month, Assistant Attorney General Ann Meyers told Supreme Court justices that the jury had heard Kryger's objections to the evidence.

SD Department of Corrections

An inmate on death row for nearly 25 years has argued to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that his lawyers did not adequately represent him.

Charles Russell Rhines says his lawyers should have given the jury more information about his mental health issues at his trial in 1993. He says if they had, the jury might not have sentenced him to die.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that Buffalo Chip City remains a city. The high court released its opinion on Thursday, Jan. 25.

Buffalo Chip is located a few miles outside of Sturgis. It incorporated as a city in the spring of 2015. The city of Sturgis tried to block the election but a circuit judge allowed it to proceed, and voters approved the incorporation.

The Supreme Court says because Buffalo Chip became a city, only the state or someone acting on its behalf can challenge the process.

The South Dakota Supreme Court is sending an insurance settlement back for trial. A Sioux Falls woman involved in a car collision says she agreed to a settlement without understanding what she was signing. When complications from an unknown injury later resulted in an additional $400,000 in medical bills, the insurance provider refused to pay. A lower court granted summary judgment to the insurance company. The high court disagrees with that decision.

Click on story below for coverage of oral arguments.

To read the entire opinion, click this link:

SD Department of Corrections

A prisoner serving life for murder is appealing his conviction, citing errors made at trial. Christopher Dean Kryger made his case in oral arguments before the South Dakota Supreme Court on Tuesday, Jan. 9. Kryger was convicted of raping and murdering a Sioux Falls woman in her home on March 14, 2014.

The U.S. Supreme Court has postponed South Dakota's attempt to get out-of-state vendors to collect sales taxes. The high court set the case on its conference calendar last Friday, with orders made public on Monday, Jan. 8.

A spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's office says the case will go to conference again next Friday, with an outcome to be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

A former employee of an assisted living center in Lead won't get her day in court. Shirley Harvey sued Regional Health for slander and other grievances after she was fired for harsh treatment of a resident at Golden Ridge.

Harvey says fellow employees made false allegations against her to retaliate after she made negative reports about them.

She claims that Regional Health supervisors committed slander when they repeated these false allegations to others.

Andrew Bork, SDPB

An oversized house built in the historic McKennan Park district in Sioux Falls has to be modified or reconstructed. That's the decision issued by the South Dakota Supreme Court on Thursday, Jan. 4. The house is eight feet taller than allowed by city ordinance and did not follow the proposal home builders submitted to the city's historic board. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has overruled an earlier opinion concerning intentional infliction of emotional distress in divorce cases. In 1989 the court ruled that a former spouse can't sue the other spouse for intentional infliction if that behavior led to the divorce. Now the supreme court has reconsidered. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

To read the court's opinion, click on this link:

http://ujs.sd.gov/uploads/sc/opinions/27754boeeo6g.pdf

The federal tax reduction for corporations is now in effect. In anticipation, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has set a schedule for investigating how tax cuts can be passed along to energy consumers.

The PUC will hear from six investor-owned South Dakota utilities in two stages. The first deadline for reports is Feb. 1. After that, PUC staff will work with each utility individually to come up with numbers.

In formulating a plan of action, PUC staffer Brittany Mehlhaff says all rates should be adjusted and subject to refund.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has sent a lawsuit over sunflowers and herbicides back to the Fourth Circuit. A Corson County sunflower grower sued South Dakota Wheat Growers, saying a herbicide prescribed by an agronomist wiped out twelve hundred acres of sunflowers. But the high court says there are disputed issues of fact that need to be resolved by a jury.

South Dakota energy consumers could see a reduction in utility rates as a result of the new federal tax law. President Donald Trump signed the tax bill into law on Friday, Dec. 22, cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

Investor-owned utilities could be required to pass those savings along to their customers. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has set a hearing for Dec. 29 to give state utilities an opportunity to comment. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more.

Victoria Wicks file photo

Reports of hate crimes to the FBI have gone up over the past two years. But what constitutes a hate crime is frequently misunderstood. If the intent behind a crime can be proven to be hatred of a victim for certain characteristics, that's a hate crime. But not all hateful actions are crimes.

At a recent forum in Rapid City, criminal justice officials came together to discuss hate crimes and take questions from local residents.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

US Attorney's Office

U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler is stepping down at the end of December. Sioux Falls attorney Ron Parsons has been nominated by President Donald Trump to take over the position. Parsons was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Dec. 14. He now awaits confirmation by the full Senate. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more of this report.

Not all speech is free speech under the First Amendment. For instance, libel, slander, fighting words, and yelling "fire" in a crowded theater are not protected. And neither is speech that conveys a credible threat.

The South Dakota Supreme Court drove that fact home in its recent opinion upholding the conviction of Edward Draskovich. Justices say it's not just the speaker's intent that's at issue. It's also the fear inspired in the listener. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

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.

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