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.

Supreme Court Report

Feb 17, 2021

February 17, 2021 Show 990 Hour 1

The South Dakota Legislature has wrestled with it. College campuses across the country have revised policies for it. Free speech at America's colleges and universities continues to be a hot topic as students speak up and speak out.

Professor Mike Thompson, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Sioux Falls, shares insight into cases before the United States Supreme Court. The first case we discuss deals with a challenge to a student's right to free speech on campus.

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.

Bill To Restrict Death Penalty Dies

Feb 11, 2021
SD Legislative Resource Council

A bill to drastically limit the death penalty has died in the State Senate.

Proponents say capital punishment does not deter murder, and it serves as vengeance rather than justice.

Opponents say some murders are so cruel that vengeance is justified.

Victoria Wicks reports for SDPB.



After years of avoiding it, South Dakota is applying to a federal program that allows interstate shipments of state-inspected meat. 

The application is motivated by problems highlighted during the early days of the pandemic, when temporary shutdowns and slowdowns at packing plants made meat scarce in grocery stores. Consumers nationwide turned to small processors like local lockers, but in South Dakota, most of those local meat processors could not ship their meat to other states.  


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.


In The Moment … February 1st, 2021 Show 982 Hour 1

The South Dakota state legislative session moves into February, and SDPB brings you gavel-to-gavel coverage, daily reporting, a daily Statehouse podcast, and in-depth analysis of the debates and the decisions. 

  • Guests:
  • Seth Tupper, SDPB's business and economic development reporter.
  • Lee Strubinger, SDPB's politics and public policy reporter.
  • Jackie Hendry, host of South Dakota Focus.


The Custer County Commission has repealed its ordinance allowing people to carry guns in the courthouse.

After the ordinance went into effect in December, the Seventh Circuit put forth a policy that circuit judges would no longer appear in person in Custer.

Commission Chairman Jim Lintz says the decision to repeal the ordinance wasn't just about money.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

Sen. Rounds Talks Cybersecurity & Big Tech

Jan 28, 2021

In The Moment … January 28th, 2021 Show 980 Hour 1

On Friday, Senator Mike Rounds voted to confirm General Austin Lloyd as the next Secretary of Defense. Does that mean anything different as to how cybersecurity is approached in the U.S.?  We're going to visit about big tech companies and anti-trust implications. And, this is our first visit with Senator Rounds since the riots at the U.S. Capital Building on January 6th. What have we learned from that? Guest: Senator Mike Rounds 

Whether the Dakota Access Pipeline continues to operate is now a question for President Joe Biden, as well as District of Columbia federal courts.

The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled that the pipeline is operating illegally without a full environmental impact study.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has asked a D.C. Circuit judge to issue a permanent injunction. And the tribe is also asking the new president to shut the pipeline down.

Victoria Wicks has more of this report for SDPB.

Victoria Wicks

Joe Biden has said he'll revoke the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Sources say that revocation could happen on Wednesday, Jan. 20, the same day as the inauguration.

A Cheyenne River woman who has fought against South Dakota permits for years says she hopes this time the pipeline project will die.

Victoria Wicks has this report for SDPB.

PBS Newshour

We examine the events that led up to the January 6th violent disruption of the democratic process inside the U.S. Capitol building. We'll recap how a mob of pro-Trump extremists breached the barriers of the Capitol and gained access to both chambers of Congress, temporarily interrupting the official Congressional certification of state election results. 


Guests 1 (00:00): U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson.

Guests 2 (16:46): Lisa Hager and David Wiltse, professors of political science at South Dakota State University. 

SD Department of Corrections

South Dakota's remaining death-row inmate is challenging his guilty plea and death sentence from 2001.

He also claims several aspects of his 2011 sentencing trial were unconstitutional.

Piper has filed in federal court in Rapid City.

Victoria Wicks has been covering Briley Piper's case for years and reports on this newest appeal for SDPB.

In January 2019, Pennington County deputies responded to a report of a disturbance inside a Rapid Valley home.

After they entered to determine if anyone needed help, one deputy found drug vials lying on a couch. That find led to drug charges against the renter.

During prosecution, the trial judge suppressed that evidence.

The U.S. Attorney's office appealed the suppression, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Friday, Dec. 18.

Victoria Wicks reports on those legal arguments for SDPB.

Courtesy of Cory Heidelberger

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Wednesday, Dec. 16, in a case titled SDVoice et al. v. Kristi L. Noem, et al. In January this year, a federal judge ruled that 2019 legal restrictions on the ballot initiative process were unconstitutional. The governor, attorney general, and secretary of state challenged that ruling, even though that 2019 law has been replaced. Victoria Wicks reports on this appeal for SDPB.

Two Chicago heroin dealers have appealed their convictions for causing overdoses, one of them fatal, in Sioux Falls.

Judges from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the combined cases on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Defendants say the affected drug users had an assortment of substances in their systems.

But the U.S. Attorney for South Dakota says the overdoses would not have happened if not for the heroin.

Victoria Wicks has more on this case for SDPB.

Listen here:

Ballot Initiative Law Declared Illegal; State Appeals

Dec 13, 2020

A legal challenge to a dead law goes before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

In 2019, the South Dakota legislature put restrictions on proponents of ballot initiatives.

In January 2020, a federal judge found the law to be unconstitutional.

The 2020 legislature replaced it with a new law, but the state still appealed the judge's ruling on the old one.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB. Listen here:

SD Department of Corrections

The South Dakota Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a drunk driver who killed two adults and injured a young girl.

Now a state prison inmate, the driver says Highway Patrol troopers should have obtained a warrant before asking for a blood draw.

The state says a warrant is not necessary when a chaotic crime scene doesn't allow time to get a warrant, and the high court agrees.

For Victoria Wicks's previous coverage of state and federal DUI legal protocols, find links below.

SD Department of Corrections

An inmate serving life for fatally shooting his girlfriend and setting her apartment on fire has lost his bid for a new trial.

The South Dakota Supreme Court issued that opinion on Thursday, Dec. 10.

Justices say if any errors were made at trial, they were harmless, in light of the overwhelming amount of solid evidence.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

Listen here:

COVID-19 Update With Dr. Chad Thury

Dec 7, 2020

In The Moment … December 7, 2020 Show 955 Hour 2

South Dakota's confirmed COVID-19 numbers have been trending down, but the state is still among the places where the virus is spreading the fastest. More than 145 people died in the past week and we still don't know the full impact of Thanksgiving gatherings or of mask mandates in various South Dakota cities.

Joining us for a COVID-19 update today is Dr. Chad Thury. He is Regional Director of Clinical Quality and a family medicine physician at Avera Health.

Custer County

South Dakota law lays out who can carry weapons in county courthouses. But that same chapter allows county commissioners to waive those restrictions.

That's what the Custer County Commission has done. Anyone not prohibited by law can now carry guns in the Custer County Courthouse except in the areas where the Unified Judicial System conducts its business.

Chairman Jim Lintz says commissioners passed the resolution to make the courthouse safer and to affirm gun rights before the next presidential administration takes office.

Victoria Wicks has more. Listen here:

Custer, S.D.

The general public is now allowed to carry guns into the Custer County Courthouse.

The resolution, passed in November, is now in effect after a 20-day wait.

In the past, the Seventh Circuit has opposed the resolution and said if it's approved, Custer County court cases might be heard in Pennington County, about an hour away.

The Custer County State's Attorney says the resolution could cost employees' time and taxpayers' dollars.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB. Listen here:

SDPB News: Dec 2

Dec 2, 2020

The South Dakota Department of Health says they are preparing to receive 7,800 vaccinations as soon as mid-December. Local health leaders are urging caution of COVID-19 spreading ahead of the holiday season. All this and more in today’s SDPB News Podcast. Find it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify today.

Dakota Political Junkies

Nov 25, 2020

In The Moment … November 25, 2020 Show 949 Hour 1

Joining us are Jon Schaff, Professor of Political Science at Northern State University in Aberdeen, and Jonathan Ellis, investigative reporter for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. 

Reporting on politics and public policy is supported by the Center for Western Studies at Augustana University

Find the In the Moment Podcast on Apple, Spotify, and Google Play. Plus, watch interviews from our show on YouTube.

In May 2018 a postal worker at St. Francis saw a baggie of white powder that had fallen out of a broken package.

Rosebud Sioux Tribal Police field-tested the contents and soon after arrested the intended recipient.

In preparation for trial, the defendant asked the judge to suppress the evidence, claiming the government conducted an illegal search.

The issue went before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals last week. Victoria Wicks explores this case further for SDPB.

Listen here:

A federal inmate is appealing his conviction for selling a drug that almost caused a user's death.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments last week.

Michael Cooper says the U.S. Attorney should not have been allowed to tell the jury about a prior drug sale leading to an overdose. And he says the government failed to prove its case.

Victoria Wicks has more of this story for SDPB.

Listen here: