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.

The U.S. Supreme Court has postponed South Dakota's attempt to get out-of-state vendors to collect sales taxes. The high court set the case on its conference calendar last Friday, with orders made public on Monday, Jan. 8.

A spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's office says the case will go to conference again next Friday, with an outcome to be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

A former employee of an assisted living center in Lead won't get her day in court. Shirley Harvey sued Regional Health for slander and other grievances after she was fired for harsh treatment of a resident at Golden Ridge.

Harvey says fellow employees made false allegations against her to retaliate after she made negative reports about them.

She claims that Regional Health supervisors committed slander when they repeated these false allegations to others.

Andrew Bork, SDPB

An oversized house built in the historic McKennan Park district in Sioux Falls has to be modified or reconstructed. That's the decision issued by the South Dakota Supreme Court on Thursday, Jan. 4. The house is eight feet taller than allowed by city ordinance and did not follow the proposal home builders submitted to the city's historic board. SDPB's Victoria Wicks reports.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has overruled an earlier opinion concerning intentional infliction of emotional distress in divorce cases. In 1989 the court ruled that a former spouse can't sue the other spouse for intentional infliction if that behavior led to the divorce. Now the supreme court has reconsidered. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

To read the court's opinion, click on this link:

http://ujs.sd.gov/uploads/sc/opinions/27754boeeo6g.pdf

The federal tax reduction for corporations is now in effect. In anticipation, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has set a schedule for investigating how tax cuts can be passed along to energy consumers.

The PUC will hear from six investor-owned South Dakota utilities in two stages. The first deadline for reports is Feb. 1. After that, PUC staff will work with each utility individually to come up with numbers.

In formulating a plan of action, PUC staffer Brittany Mehlhaff says all rates should be adjusted and subject to refund.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has sent a lawsuit over sunflowers and herbicides back to the Fourth Circuit. A Corson County sunflower grower sued South Dakota Wheat Growers, saying a herbicide prescribed by an agronomist wiped out twelve hundred acres of sunflowers. But the high court says there are disputed issues of fact that need to be resolved by a jury.

South Dakota energy consumers could see a reduction in utility rates as a result of the new federal tax law. President Donald Trump signed the tax bill into law on Friday, Dec. 22, cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

Investor-owned utilities could be required to pass those savings along to their customers. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has set a hearing for Dec. 29 to give state utilities an opportunity to comment. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more.

Victoria Wicks file photo

Reports of hate crimes to the FBI have gone up over the past two years. But what constitutes a hate crime is frequently misunderstood. If the intent behind a crime can be proven to be hatred of a victim for certain characteristics, that's a hate crime. But not all hateful actions are crimes.

At a recent forum in Rapid City, criminal justice officials came together to discuss hate crimes and take questions from local residents.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

US Attorney's Office

U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler is stepping down at the end of December. Sioux Falls attorney Ron Parsons has been nominated by President Donald Trump to take over the position. Parsons was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Dec. 14. He now awaits confirmation by the full Senate. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more of this report.

Victoria Wicks

Jim Yellowhawk and his father, Gerald Yellowhawk, are artists in the traditional indigenous way, with some notable variations. Their art combines the historical with the modern, often with humor and irony.

Their art is now on display at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, through March 3.

For the rest of this story, click on the audio arrow above.

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.

Victoria Wicks

Luke Corwin took the stage in April, on Earth Day, at the culmination of the March for Science. That march started at the School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, where Corwin teaches, and continued to the Central States Fairgrounds.

On the stage there, Corwin called for open and courteous dialog between those who trust in science and those who don't.

During his speech, Corwin said he is a Christian and sometimes struggles with the conflict between his religious and scientific beliefs.

Hank Harris

The story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his hard heart has endured through time since December 1843. That's when Charles Dickens' novella A Christmas Carol was first published. It has been acted out year after year on stage and on screen. And this weekend, it was performed at the Rapid City Public Library by Flower and Flame, a South Dakota troupe of one actor and four musicians.

For more information about Flower and Flame and its touring schedule, click on this link:

http://www.flowerandflame.com/home.html

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.

SD Public Utilities Commission

South Dakota's PUC chairwoman says the Nebraska Public Service Commission is bound by state law, as are the public utility commissions in all states. And so she says the Nebraska PSC had to make its decision to permit the Keystone XL pipeline based on the evidence they received.

Kristie Fiegen says commissions have to interpret state law and apply that to the evidence and filings.

Nebraska Democratic Party

The Nebraska Public Service Commission voted three to two on Tuesday, Nov. 20, to permit the Keystone XL pipeline to cross the state. Afterward landowners and activists for the environment and tribes gathered to declare their continued opposition. Bold Nebraska posted that rally online, and SDPB's Victoria Wicks listened to bring us this report.

To read TransCanada's statement, click on this link:

Nebraska Public Service Commission

The Keystone XL pipeline now has permission to cross Nebraska. The state's Public Service Commission announced its decision on Monday, Nov. 20. But two commissioners dissented, and one of them read into the record several reasons why she voted no. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has this report.

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.

Blake Little

Los Angeles resident Gregory Hinton is a writer and filmmaker. He's also the producer of Out West, an LGBT museum series that is expanding across the nation.

Hinton started Out West after visiting the Autry National Center in Los Angeles and realizing the film Brokeback Mountain was not represented in the center's film archives.

From there Hinton went on to get a fellowship at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyo., where Hinton lived during much of his childhood.

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.

Victoria Wicks

People who volunteer their time and skills provide community services that might not otherwise exist. The Helpline Center in Rapid City coordinates Black Hills services by emailing and posting volunteer opportunities. And once a year, the center hosts a Volunteer Expo to allow potential volunteers to meet agency reps face to face. This year's Expo was held Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Dahl Arts Center. SDPB's Victoria Wicks has more.

http://www.helplinecenter.org/

Victoria Wicks

The Keystone XL pipeline got the go-ahead from the Trump administration in March. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission had already done the work to allow it to cross this state. But still the pipeline is not a done deal. There are appeals pending in the South Dakota Supreme Court and Montana federal court. And Nebraska still hasn't permitted it.

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.

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