Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Convicted killer Rodney Berget says he wants to stop an appeal that’s preventing him from being put to death, but his attorney can't support the move. The issues are enough to delay major action in Rodney Berget’s case for a few months.

Rodney Berget was in a Minnehaha County courtroom Friday. He wants to end his execution appeal.

Judge Douglas Hoffman asked if he understood that waiving his rights is a path to execution. Berget responded "yes".

That wasn’t enough for the judge to authorize a path to execution that day.


There are just some things as a reporter you never forget. I will always remember the day of the Mickelson plane crash, the Spencer tornado, talking with survivors of the Rapid City flood, and my first prison interview. It was March or April of 2000 and I was doing a series of stories about juvenile corrections. This was on the heels of the death of Gina Score at a boot camp in Plankinton. I was looking into how we treat juvenile offenders in South Dakota.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A new study shows judicial reforms saved South Dakota $34 million in the first two years. Sweeping changes in mid-2013 included presumptive probation. That means judges sentencing people for low-level felonies keep offenders in communities instead of sending them to prison. Researchers from the Justice Policy Center say initial results are promising, but the work isn’t finished.

A new report indicates changes that keep more offenders out of prison are helping state coffers without risking public safety.

Court System Expands Programs

Jan 16, 2014

During his State of the Judiciary message before a joint session of the House and Senate Wednesday, South Dakota Supreme Court Justice David Gilbertson said the court system is expanding existing programs and starting new ones to treat more non-violent offenders outside of prison.  Those programs include courts for drug and alcohol offenders and pilot courts for some military veterans charged with misdemeanors.  The changes are part of a Criminal Justice Reform measure passed by lawmakers last year and signed by Governor Dennis Daugaard.

Drug Courts

Jan 31, 2013
National Center for DWI Courts

In his State of the State Address, Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed a criminal justce reform measure that includes an expansion of the state's drug and alcohol courts.  West Huddleston, CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, discussed how drug courts work and their effectiveness in helping addicts and their families.  Huddleston is regarded as a national pioneer in drug courts and other alternative sentencing strategies.

Makers: Judges

Jan 17, 2013

Judge Kathleen Caldwell and Judge Patricia Riepel join Dakota Midday for the Makers series this week as they talk about their impact in the court systems. Governor George S. Mickelson appointed Caldwell to the First Circuit Bench on January 29, 1993. Following redistricting of the circuits, she became a judge of the Second Circuit Bench on July 1, 2000. Judge Caldwell retired on January 8, 2013. The Madison native attended law school after 18 months in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia and practiced law for 12 years in Sioux Falls before becoming a circuit judge.

Convicted child killer Donald Moeller is set to die by lethal injection at 10:00 tonight. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the latest request for a stay of execution. Moeller was convicted for the 1990 murder of 9-year-old Becky O’Connell. For twenty-two years Moeller denied that he killed O’Connell and lodged nearly every appeal in court battles. Moeller gave up his last appeal several weeks ago when he admitted his guilt and said that he accepts lethal injection as justice.

Berget Oral Arguments

Oct 1, 2012

SDPB News Producer Kealey Bultena talks about the latest update in the Berget case. The South Dakota Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in the case of 50-year-old Rodney Berget. Berget pleaded guilty to killing guard Ronald Johnson in April 2011 at the state penitentiary during a botched prison escape. A judge sentenced Berget to die by lethal injection. But Berget's lawyer is now appealing the sentence.