SD Supreme Court

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Annette Bosworth

The South Dakota Supreme Court has overturned Annette Bosworth's perjury convictions but upheld other charges.

Bosworth ran for U.S. Senate in South Dakota in 2014, and lost in the primary election.

To get on the ballot, she submitted nominating petitions to the Secretary of State with a sworn verification that she had personally circulated them. But a subsequent investigation showed she was in the Philippines at the time the signatures were gathered.

The supreme court found that the state misinterpreted the statute it applied when charging Bosworth with perjury.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the state Department of Corrections. DOC was sued by the widow of Ron Johnson, the corrections officer who was killed in 2011 by inmates trying to escape.

Lynette Johnson said penitentiary officials had advance notice that the two inmates presented an escape risk but moved them to a less secure facility anyway. Among other claims, Mrs. Johnson sued DOC for wrongful death and infliction of emotional distress.

The state Supreme Court has ruled that South Dakota's Common Core assessments are constitutional and follow state law.

The court heard arguments in February from the Thomas More Law Center in Michigan, representing two South Dakota taxpayers.

Plaintiffs argued that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC, is an interstate compact requiring consent of Congress. And they said the testing process violates state law.

However, the high court disagrees.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

South Dakota Game Fish & Parks has asked the state Supreme Court to define what constitutes public interest. The high court heard arguments on Tuesday, April 25. GF&P maintains that townships in Day County did not serve the public interest when they vacated roads leading to certain public lands or water. A Fifth Circuit judge ruled for the townships, and GF&P appeals.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

Buffalo Chip Campground became an incorporated city after the Meade County Commission authorized an election in May 2015. The city of Sturgis and local landowners challenged the incorporation, and a Fourth Circuit judge nullified it. He found that the Meade County Commission erred when it allowed the election to go forward. Meade County appealed that decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court, who heard arguments on Tuesday, April 25.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Unified Judicial System

The South Dakota Supreme Court had a majority of female justices for one case on Tuesday, April 25.

Justice Steven Zinter disqualified himself from a case involving incorporation of Buffalo Chip Campground as a city.

Retired Justice Judith Meierhenry sat in on oral arguments, joining Justices Janine Kern and Lori Wilbur to make a 3-2 majority of women.

Chief Justice David Gilbertson announced this historic event to the audience in the courtroom:

Victoria Wicks file photo

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the 200-year sentence of Paul Dean Jensen. The prison inmate was 14 when he murdered Michael Hare in Fort Pierre 20 years ago.

Jensen was sentenced to life without possibility of parole, the only penalty available to him at the time. After the U.S. Supreme Court found mandatory life sentences for juvenile murderers to be unconstitutional, Jensen came up for a new sentence hearing in June last year.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports this latest development in an ongoing story.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has reversed the DUI conviction of a Brookings man. Steven Stanage was arrested in October 2014 after driving up to a fast-food pick-up window. He was convicted of first-time DUI, but the magistrate stayed sentencing pending the outcome of the appeal. The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in October last year. The court's majority finds that the arresting officer did not have sufficient cause to stop Stanage's vehicle. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the 92-year sentence of Daniel Charles, who murdered his stepfather in 1999. Charles was 14 at the time. He had been sentenced to life without parole, but was given a second chance resulting from a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2012.

Charles appealed that second-chance sentence, saying it was too harsh given his youthful immaturity at the time of the crime.

The state high court rejected that argument. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Unless the legislature says otherwise, owners of flooded land can keep hunters, fishers, and boaters off their property. The South Dakota Supreme Court issued that opinion this week in a Day County case.

Game, Fish & Parks has maintained that members of the public may use the water as long as they get to it by legal means. But landowners say it's up to the legislature to enact a statute, and so far lawmakers have declined to do so.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Victoria Wicks file photo

Paul Dean Jensen spent 20 years in prison, serving life without parole for a murder he committed in 1996 at the age of 14. In June, a judge reconsidered that penalty and imposed a 200 year sentence, with parole eligibility in 2021.

Now Jensen is appealing that second sentence. He says the sentencing judge abdicated his responsibilities to the parole board.

The South Dakota Supreme Court will consider this case on briefs during its March term. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

In 2014, South Dakota committed to using the services of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC. The consortium is located at UCLA and provides testing of K-12 student achievement.

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, the South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments from its opponents. Two South Dakota taxpayers filed suit through the Thomas More Law Center, an organization in Michigan that battles Common Core standards. The plaintiffs claim the consortium is an interstate compact requiring consent of the U.S. Congress and violates state and federal law.

In 2011, prison officer Ron Johnson was murdered by two inmates who were trying to escape. His widow, Lynette Johnson, sued the South Dakota Department of Corrections and certain of its employees, in particular then-Warden Doug Weber. She holds that prison officials knew the inmates were planning an escape, but concealed that information after the incident.

The suit has been dismissed by both a federal court and state court. Now Lynette Johnson has appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Pages