SD Supreme Court

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.

In The Moment...January 12 2017 Show 009 Hr 1

Guests: Denny Kaemingk, SD Secretary of Corrections; SDPB's Victoria Wicks, talks about SD Supreme Court; Kevin Woster, regular contributor/blogger; Arthur C. Jones, teaching professor at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver

Legislative leaders are already split over how to budget new money coming to South Dakota. Other stories featured in this podcast include: Governor Dennis Daugaard says he wants the legislature to update the state's wiretapping laws. Chief Justice David Gilbertson calls the rising rates of addiction in South Dakota a new wave of evil.

Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

The importance of punctuation and grammar was at issue in the South Dakota Supreme Court on Wednesday. In a case involving open records, justices heard from lawyers representing the Argus Leader and the City of Sioux Falls. The dispute revolves around the wording of one short paragraph in the open records chapter and whether it allows government entities to keep records closed when they've entered into a contract. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

Melissa Hamersma Sievers / SDPB

South Dakota inmate Daniel Charles came up before the South Dakota Supreme Court on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Charles' attorney asked for reconsideration of his 92-year prison sentence. Charles was 14 when he killed his stepfather in Meade County. He's now 32. He'll be 60 before he comes up for parole. His attorney argues that parole at retirement age doesn't allow Charles to have a meaningful life on the outside. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

In a tightly divided decision, the South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that plaintiffs in a medical liability case may see the records of patients who are not parties to the lawsuit. Three justices say state law allows release of records as long as the patients can't be identified. But two justices say state law is clear that there are no exceptions to privilege.

Unified Judicial System

David Gilbertson has been chosen by his colleagues on the South Dakota Supreme Court to serve another four years as Chief Justice.

Gilbertson says one priority is to expand mental health services for addicts and defendants.

Gilbertson was appointed to the court in 1995 and has presided since 2001. In that time, he says, the state's drug and alcohol courts have grown but so have the state's problems with addiction and mental illness.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court has answered this question: can a person commit burglary if he's entering his own home? The high court released its opinion to the public on Thursday, Dec. 1, and the answer is yes, under certain circumstances. Justices say it's not so much about who owns the house as it is about the security of the people living there. SDPB's Victoria Wicks explains.

Matt Gade/The Daily Republic

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of Maricela Diaz. She was 15 years old when she and her boyfriend tortured, stabbed, and burned to death a 16-year-old girl near Mitchell.

Diaz claims the sentencing judge did not thoroughly take into consideration her dependency on her abusive boyfriend and her young age when he sentenced her to 80 years in prison.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the firing of a former Division of Criminal Investigation agent.

Mark Black argued that the DCI did not have sufficient cause to fire him. He also claimed that he wasn't given due process by the DCI or by the Civil Service Commission and the Sixth Circuit Court when he appealed his firing.

Black was dismissed for "chronic misbehavior," poor judgment, and allegations of domestic abuse. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

To read the SD Supreme Court opinion in its entirety, click on this link:

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court usually makes new opinions public on Thursdays. But because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the opinions came out a day early this week.

On Wednesday, Nov. 23, the court upheld five criminal convictions, as well as the firing of former DCI agent Mark Black.

One of the convictions upheld was that of Maricela Diaz, who took part in a cruel murder in Mitchell when she was 15 years old. Her appeal was heard in October.

Courtesy of Annette Bosworth/SDPB file photo

Two years ago, Annette Bosworth was a candidate for the U.S. Senate. One year ago, she was convicted of perjury. Today, Nov. 8, the South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments in her appeal.

While a candidate, Bosworth verified that she circulated nominating petitions, when in fact she was in the Philippines at the time the signatures were collected.

She now claims that her felony conviction goes beyond what her actions merit. But the prosecutor says she lied on official state documents, and her conviction is solid.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

SD Department of Corrections

A Lead man serving life in prison for murdering his girlfriend has appealed his conviction. The South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday, Nov. 7.

James Lewis Rogers says police officers should have had a warrant to search his home, where they found his girlfriend's body in a suitcase in his closet. And he says he was initially questioned without first hearing his rights. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the South Dakota Supreme Court was asked this question: can an officer pull over a suspected drunk driver for no reason other than a hearsay tip?

The case comes out of Brookings, where a Hardee's employee reported to a manager that a drive-through customer seemed drunk.

The manager called the police without seeing the customer himself.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports on this case.

A former agent for the Division of Criminal Investigation is appealing his firing for unbecoming conduct. The South Dakota Supreme Court heard the case on Monday, Oct. 3.

Former DCI agent Mark Black was discharged for inability to control his emotions, poor judgment, and dishonesty, leading to an end to his eight-year career with the state's top law enforcement agency.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports that some accusations against Black come from information posted on the Internet.

The South Dakota Supreme Court starts its October term with a full docket. Its first argument heard Monday, Oct. 3, is an appeal from Maricela Diaz. She was convicted in January 2015 of murdering an acquaintance by stabbing her and then lighting her on fire in the trunk of a car. Diaz was fifteen years old at the time of the crime.

The SD Supreme Court is holding its October term at Northern State University in Aberdeen. Oral arguments continue Oct. 4 and 5.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the sexual contact conviction of a Brookings pastor. Timothy Bariteau was convicted in June 2015 of rubbing his genitals against the buttocks of a 14-year-old girl on multiple occasions. Three justices upheld the conviction, but two justices dissented, saying the current legal definition of sexual conduct doesn't cover Bariteau's actions. SDPB's Victoria Wicks explains.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement officers' personnel records can be subpoenaed by defendants in criminal trials. State law says personnel records are confidential, but justices say the U.S. Constitution gives a defendant the right to prepare a defense. However, justices set guidelines to be met before officers' confidential records are opened, starting with a three-pronged test that originated with the prosecution of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974.

A ranching couple from Quinn whose cattle drowned during a winter storm will receive compensation from their insurance company. The South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that even though the cattle were not found immersed in water, they died from liquid saturating their lungs. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this follow-up to the 2013 storm, which devastated parts of Western South Dakota.

For 2013 SDPB coverage of Winter Storm Atlas, click on the links below.

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