Justia South Dakota Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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Appellant appealed his conviction of five counts of possessing child pornography. Appellant argued (1) there was insufficient evidence to prove that he knowingly possessed child pornography; (2) S.D. Codified Laws 22-24A-3, the statute defining possession of child pornography, is unconstitutionally vague; and (3) he was convicted multiple times for a single act or course of conduct in violation of double jeopardy protections. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that Appellant knowingly possessed the five images of child pornography for which he was charged; (2) there was no plain error for the court to notice with regard to the constitutionality of section 22-24A-3; and (3) there was no plain error for the court to notice with regard to double jeopardy. View "State v. Linson" on Justia Law

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After discovering methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the home of Mother, Mother’s three children were removed from the home. The State initiated abuse and neglect proceedings against Mother, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (Tribe). More than one year later, the Tribe and Mother submitted motions to transfer the proceedings to the Tribe’s jurisdiction. The circuit court denied the motions. Following a final dispositional hearing, the court terminated Mother’s parental rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Mother was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the question of whether good cause existed to deny the motions to transfer jurisdiction to the Tribe, and therefore, the circuit court abused its discretion by denying the motions. View "In re Interest of A.O." on Justia Law

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Two township residents appealed the circuit court’s denial of their request that the court issue a writ of mandamus compelling the township to repair and maintain two secondary roads. The court concluded that the township proved that it was unable to perform its mandatory duty to repair and maintain the roads. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the writ because the township proved that it was unable to perform its legal duty because it would be unable to procure the funds necessary to repair and maintain the roads, and because the township proved that it had not willfully placed itself in a position where it could not perform its legal duty. View "Asper v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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Legendary Loan Link, Inc. filed suit against Todd Larson on a promissory note that was secured by certain property. Judge Robert Timm granted partial summary for Legendary Loan. Judge Timm subsequently retired, and the case was assigned to Judge Carmen Means. Nearly one year after Judge Means was assigned to the case, Larson filed a formal affidavit requesting a change of judge. Presiding Judge Gregory Stoltenburg reviewed Larson’s formal affidavit for change of judge and denied it by an e-mail to the clerk of courts but did not enter a formal order on the matter. Judge Means later granted summary judgment in favor of Legendary Loan on the remaining issues. Larson appealed, arguing that Judge Means lacked jurisdiction to preside over the case because Judge Stoltenburg failed to enter a formal order denying Larson’s affidavit for a change of judge and appointing Judge Means. The Supreme court affirmed, holding that Larson was not entitled to file the affidavit for a change of judge because it was untimely and because he waived that right when he submitted argument to Judge Means on numerous occasions before filing the affidavit. View "Legendary Loan Link, Inc. v. Larson" on Justia Law

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The circuit court granted Plaintiff’s petition requesting a stalking protection order against Defendant after conducting an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court’s findings sufficiently addressed the facts of the case under the specific elements of stalking at issue such that the Supreme Court may determine whether the evidence met the statutory elements of stalking; (2) the circuit court’s findings of fact were not clearly erroneous; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it granted the protection order. View "Doremus v. Morrow" on Justia Law
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Plaintiff, as the administrator of her brother’s estate, sued the owners of the group home where her brother resided, alleging that Defendants (1) negligently failed to provide her brother medical care in a timely manner, (2) caused her brother’s wrongful death, and (3) failed to seek proper consent for the handling of her brother’s body after his death. The circuit court dismissed the third claim on summary judgment. After a trial, the jury found that Defendants were negligent but that the negligence was not the legal cause of the damage alleged by Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it (1) granted Defendants partial summary judgment or at trial when it excluded Plaintiff’s evidence related to Defendants’ involvement in the post-death decisions; (2) denied Plaintiff’s motion for change of venue; (3) refused Plaintiff’s instruction on spoliation; and (4) denied Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial. View "Red Bear v. SESDAC, Inc." on Justia Law
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A law enforcement officer need not have independent authority to make an arrest under S.D. Codified Laws 23A-3-2 before taking a person placed under a citizen’s arrest into custody and performing a search incident to that arrest. Defendant in this case was validly placed under citizen’s arrest for theft by an asset protection associate at Walmart. The associate contacted law enforcement, who took Defendant into custody and searched her purse. Law enforcement found a pipe with methamphetamine residue. The circuit court granted Defendant's motion to suppress all evidence obtained from the search. The Supreme Court reversed based on South Dakota’s statutes concerning a citizen’s arrest and court precedent, holding that Defendant was validly placed under citizen’s arrest, and the responding law enforcement officer who took her into custody properly performed a search incident to that arrest. View "State v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for driving under the influence and following too closely, rendered after a jury trial. Defendant argued that the circuit court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss for the State’s failure to bring him to trial within 180 days under S.D. Codified Laws 23A-44-5.1. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss because (1) a constructive appearance before a judicial officer does not constitute a first appearance under the statute; and (2) under the facts of this case, the State did not violate the 180-day rule. View "State v. Duncan" on Justia Law
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Defendant appealed his convictions, entered after a jury trial, of three counts of first-degree rape and one count of sexual contact with a child under sixteen years of age. The child was Defendant’s four-year-old daughter, who had autism. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion by finding the child, who was six years old at the time of trial, competent to testify despite her young age and developmental delays; (2) did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to have the child declared unavailable as a witness for the purposes of cross-examination because of her lack of memory; (3) did not err by denying Defendant’s pretrial motion to suppress his statements to law enforcement; and (4) did not abuse its discretion by giving Instruction 11 to the jury. View "State v. Spaniol" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s convictions of simple assault and intentional damage to property, holding that the circuit court erred as a matter of law in admitting purported business records - Verizon’s log of Defendant’s tex messages sent and received during the time of the alleged conduct underlying the convictions - because the State did not lay the required foundation for the evidence, and there was a reasonable probability that admission of the cell-phone log contributed to the jury’s decision. Because the error was prejudicial, the Court remanded for a new trial on Defendant’s convictions for simple assault and intentional damage to property. View "State v. Stokes" on Justia Law
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