Victoria Wicks

SDPB Freelance Reporter/Producer

Rapid City freelancer Victoria L. Wicks has been producing news for SDPB since August 2007. She has in the past been a newspaper reporter, and she spent about 14 years advocating for crime victims in Rapid City and Aberdeen. Vicky is also a creative writer; several of her short stories have been published, one of them in an anthology titled Fishing for Chickens: Short Stories about Rural Youth. In addition, Vicky is a visual artist, creating pottery, watercolors, oil and acrylic paintings, and photographs. She holds a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of South Dakota.

In 2017, six South Dakota plaintiffs sued law officers in three cities for forcing them  to undergo catheterization to get evidence of drug use.

After a federal judge declined to grant summary judgment to the officials, five of the plaintiffs received settlements. Bt the sixth plaintiff was denied. He appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard arguments in his case on Wednesday, May 12.

Victoria Wicks has more details for SDPB.

The Sierra Club has standing to challenge a confined hog and cattle operation in Clay County. That's the unanimous decision of the South Dakota Supreme Court, who heard arguments in October 2020.

A lower court dismissed Sierra Club's lawsuit against the Clay County Board of Adjustment. The high court says that lawsuit can continue.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

Photos courtesy of Robins Kaplan and Redstone Law. Graphic by Victoria Wicks.

On Nov. 3, 2020, South Dakota citizens voted to approve an amendment to the state constitution that legalizes all things cannabis. Voters also approved an initiated measure directing the state to establish a medical marijuana program.

After the election, the superintendent of the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the Pennington County Sheriff sued to challenge the constitutionality of Amendment A. They hold that it contains a multitude of subjects, rather than a single subject as required by a 2018 amendment initiated by the state legislature.

Joe Sneve, Argus Leader

The South Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday, April 28, on the constitutionality of Amendment A. In the 2020 election, almost 55 percent of the state's voters approved the amendment that legalizes cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. The law officers who brought this suit say the new amendment violates older amendments, especially one added in 2018. Victoria Wicks has this report for SDPB.

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the life sentence of Jonathon Klinetobe, the Rapid City man who enlisted two other men to murder his ex-girlfriend in 2015.

Klinetobe pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter, and in December 2019, the judge imposed the maximum sentence of life without parole.

A month later, Klinetobe argued to the Supreme Court that the sentence was too harsh.

In its opinion issued Thursday, April 15, the Supreme Court disagrees.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Opponents to the Dakota Access Pipeline are disappointed that the Biden administration has not shut the pipeline down. Opponents have sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, claiming the government permit violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

Last summer plaintiffs claimed victory when a District of Columbia federal judge vacated the permit and ordered the pipeline shut down. The D.C. Court of Appeals quickly reversed the shutdown. But it upheld the finding that the pipeline is operating illegally and sent that issue back to the lower court.

Representatives of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe say the Biden administration should take action against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Standing Rock and three other tribes have sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for issuing an illegal permit for the pipeline under the Trump administration.

Now they say the new president should not leave it to the courts to decide whether the pipeline should be shut down.

Victoria Wicks has this report for SDPB.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against a man who sued investigators and prosecutors in Meade County.

Oakley Engesser served 12 years in prison before being exonerated by witnesses who were not brought to trial to testify.

Engesser says the investigation and prosecution were so flawed that they violated his constitutional rights. But the Eighth Circuit disagrees.

Victoria Wicks reports for SDPB.

Victoria Wicks file photo

Earlier this week the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals released an extensive opinion on the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Lawyers immediately started to examine its potential effect on legal processes in place for more than 40 years.

An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union says much of the law still stands, but some important protections have been found unconstitutional.

The appellate ruling is binding on courts only in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, the states in the Fifth Circuit. If it is appealed, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to grant a hearing.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has found aspects of the Indian Child Welfare Act to be unconstitutional.

The appellate court released its opinion on Tuesday, April 6, after deliberating for more than a year.

The ruling is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Victoria Wicks reports on this case for SDPB.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has heard a second appeal stemming from a battle over a family ranch near Pukwana.

Attorneys for both sides of the Healy family dispute made their cases before justices on Tuesday, March 23.

One issue is whether a lower court erred by not including as costs around $100,000 of attorneys fees.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

Lawyers for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the U.S. Department of Justice argued on Thursday, March 18, before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Rosebud tribe sued Indian Health Services and the Department of Health and Human Services in 2016, claiming that IHS health care is so inadequate, it violates treaty obligations.

The tribe prevailed, in part, in a lower court, and the feds appealed.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

U.S. Attorney for SD

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of Timothy Burns, one of two men who defrauded investors in a proposed fish and hydroponic produce farm near Brookings.

At oral arguments in October 2020, the U.S. Attorney laid out a daring scheme that started in 2016.

Victoria Wicks has this report for SDPB.

SD Legislative Resource Council

A Stand Your Ground bill shot down by the Senate Judiciary committee has been resurrected and approved by the full Senate. Supporters of House Bill 1212 say the bill clears up vague and outdated language in current self-defense statutes. But lawyers in the legislature say the bill replaces current self-defense law and wipes out decades of case law that interprets what self defense is and is not.

Victoria Wicks tracks this bill as it travels through committees and chambers on its way to the governor's desk.

SD Legislative Resource Council

The "open fields" bill has been resurrected, amended, and passed in the South Dakota Senate.

House Bill 1140 puts restrictions on Game Fish & Parks officers entering private land. The Senate Judiciary killed the bill in committee on Tuesday, March 2, but the full Senate smoked the bill out the next day and voted on an amended version on Monday, March 8.

Victoria Wicks has been following this legislation for SDPB.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned the rape conviction of a South Dakota man.

At trial, the federal prosecutor brought in an expert witness to tell what characteristics a rape victim might display.

But the judge would not allow the defense to allege that the victim's trauma might have come from an earlier rape.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

A Fall River County woman convicted for brandishing a broken gun at law officers and kicking a deputy has failed to have her conviction overturned.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has reaffirmed that a person can be charged with aggravated assault even if she knows her gun doesn't work.

Relying on information from the court's opinion, Victoria Wicks reports on this case for SDPB.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has killed House Bill 1140, called a "poachers' bill" by its detractors.

The proposed legislation would have required Game Fish & Parks officers to have landowners' permission to do compliance checks on private land.

Opponents say current policies already encourage cooperation between the agency and landowners, and the bill protects hunters.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

SD Legislative Resource Council

Lifers who committed their crimes before they were 25 years old will not have a chance at parole when they turn 50.

Senate Bill 146 has been killed in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill offered a second chance to young offenders serving life sentences.

But opponents say "life means life" in South Dakota.

Victoria Wicks reports for SDPB.

Public Justice, Arkansas State Legislature, Lax Vaughan Lawfirm

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals held a special session on Thursday, Feb. 25, to hear arguments on the constitutionality of an "ag gag" law in Arkansas.

The ensuing decision applies to the states within the Eighth Circuit, which includes South Dakota.

Animal rights activists say the Arkansas law chills First-Amendment protected speech of whistleblowers and journalists who expose animal cruelty in agricultural operations.

Victoria Wicks has more on this case for SDPB.

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of an inmate serving life for kidnapping and rape.

Harry David Evans raised several issues on appeal.

One is whether state law officers had jurisdiction to remove his pickup truck from where it was parked on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

A federal inmate appealing his case before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals says it's hard to get a jury of peers in Indian Country.

Eli Erickson was convicted of meth and gun charges in 2019.

None of the potential jurors identifying as Native made the cut.

Erickson's lawyer says one problem is that in small rural reservation communities, everybody knows everybody in one way or another.

Victoria Wicks reports for SDPB.

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a Rapid City man who asked a friend for a gun so he could kill his late wife's doctor.

In his appeal, William Thoman held that state law does not support a criminal charge for his specific actions.

But the high court says otherwise.

Victoria Wicks reports on this case for SDPB.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has resolved a legal challenge to South Dakota's restrictions on initiated and referred measures.

The appeals court heard arguments in December in the case short-titled South Dakota Voice v. Kristi Noem.

The Eighth Circuit has found that the 2019 law at the center of the appeal has been replaced and is moot.

But the constitutionality of petition deadlines is headed back to South Dakota federal court for resolution.

Victoria Wicks has this report for SDPB.

Deuel County

Permits for two Deuel County wind projects have been restored by the South Dakota Supreme Court.

The Deuel County Board of Adjustment unanimously voted to allow construction of two wind farms. Opponents appealed, and a Third Circuit Court invalidated the votes of two board members, finding they had a conflict of interest.

The high court has now overturned that ruling.

Victoria Wicks reports for SDPB.

The South Dakota Supreme Court is allowing a lawsuit against the Hamlin County Sheriff to proceed.

Justices heard arguments in September 2019 that the sheriff oversaw a search of a trailer house that resulted in more than $18,000 worth of damage.

In a divided opinion, justices say the lower court needs to further examine whether the sheriff can legitimately claim qualified immunity.

Victoria Wicks reports for SDPB.

Photos are copied from the SD Supreme Court opinion.

To read the full opinion, click on this link.

SD Legislative Resource Council

A bill proposing to give lifers a chance at parole has passed through its first legislative committee hearing.

Senate Bill 146 applies only to inmates who were 25 years old or younger at the time of the crime.

Proponents say courts now recognize that much brain development takes place between the ages of 18 and 25.

But opponents say there are already processes for review of inmates serving life.

Victoria Wicks has this report for SDPB.

SD DENR

A bill to restrict public testimony before the state Water Management Board has moved forward.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources approved the bill on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Proponents testified that the bill streamlines hearings on water use for pipelines, mining, and confined animal operations.

But opponents say the bill takes another step toward silencing public input on environmental concerns.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

SD Legislative Resource Council

The South Dakota Legislature is considering applying the death penalty only when public safety officials are murder victims.

A State Senator and retired judge says the death penalty does not deter criminals from committing murder. And he says capital punishment serves only as revenge in a violent society.

But prosecutors testify that victims deserve justice.

Senate Bill 98 now goes to the full Senate for floor discussion and, if it passes there, moves to the House.

Victoria Wicks reports on SB 98 for SDPB.

SD Legislative Resource Council

The South Dakota Legislature is considering curtailing public input at Water Management Board hearings.

House Bill 1028 limits opposition to projects that use the state's water supplies. Under this bill, only people "uniquely injured" by the water use can initiate a contested case.

Proponents say the bill streamlines the permitting process, but opponents say it stifles citizen participation.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

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