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State Supreme Court rules Sanford affidavits shall get released

T. Denny Sanford
T. Denny Sanford

The South Dakota Supreme Court is ruling against the state’s richest person, T. Denny Sanford, in a dispute over whether to release affidavits for an investigation into possession of child pornography.

The state’s high court said affidavits in support of search warrants must be unsealed, affirming a lower court’s ruling.

Sanford also requested to participate in the redaction process before unsealing the affidavits.

Dave Bordewyk is with the South Dakota Newspaper Association. He said if that were allowed, court information would never get released.

“It would bog things down considerably and would not be a good thing,” Bordewyk said. “So, principles were upheld here in terms of making sure court information is made public as soon as it can. Given the subject and the person involved here, I think that’s of interest to the news and to the public.”

Bordewyk said he's pleased to see a unanimous opinion from the court to uphold the public’s right to know.

The case for the documents was brought by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative newsroom.

The investigation into the billionaire philanthropist was dismissed on May 27, 2022. Sanford resisted release of the documents, arguing it will affect his privacy and reputation.

The Argus Leader reports the documents should be available by the end of April.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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