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SD Supreme Court lines up cases for upcoming term

The South Dakota Supreme Court is located in the state Capitol building in Pierre.
The South Dakota Supreme Court is located in the state Capitol building in Pierre.

The state Supreme Court has a full schedule for their upcoming session at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

Justices will hear arguments for nine cases, including a pretrial procedure relating to a child pornography case, compensation for a workers COVID-19 death and another look a Rapid City murder.

UPDATE: The case of Franken V. Smithfield foods has settled. The case is still listed online, but will not be heard in this term of court.

To start, in Franken V. Smithfield Foods, workers compensation is the question for the family of Craig Allen Franken, who died of COVID-19 in April of 2020 while working for Smithfield in Sioux Falls. Franken’s family argues his death qualifies as a work-related injury, therefore entitling benefits.

Smithfield Foods moved to dismiss the petition on the grounds that there is no legal remedy available under South Dakota Law, and that COVID-19 is not an “occupational disease.”

Previously, the state Department of Labor and Regulation granted Smithfield’s motion to dismiss. That decision has been appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court.

Next, State V. O’Neal targets the acquisition and use of certain pieces of evidence and the conduct of police officers.

Michael O’Neal was found guilty on charges relating to child pornography. The warrantless seizure of O’Neal’s cell phone is in question.

At trial, prosecutors offered data from O’Neal’s phone showing clicks on thumbnails and pages depicting child pornography. The defense filed a motion against the use of that as evidence in the court. Further, questions of if his due process rights were violated will also be assessed.

In State V. Richard, questions orbit evidence presented at trial by the prosecution, and if the court abused its discretion in allowing testimony focused on the defendant’s alleged affiliations to a gang known as the "Dark Side Family."

This case circles the death of Vernall Marshall in Rapid City on Christmas Eve of 2020. The event has been framed as a drug deal gone wrong that led Marshall getting fatally shot.

Elias Richard was indicted on a count of first-degree murder and aiding and abetting first-degree robbery in January 2021. Witness testimony placed the gun in his hand at the time of the shooting, though other witnesses allege another person in the car could have pulled the trigger.

Richard ultimately received a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The coming term runs from Oct. 3 through Oct. 5.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture