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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of threatening a judicial officer and disorderly conduct arising from statements Defendant made in the Minnehaha County Courthouse. At the conclusion of a court trial, the circuit court ruled that Defendant’s statements were “true threats” rather than speech protected by the First Amendment. Defendant appealed, arguing that his statements were protected speech and therefore could not be the basis for criminal conduct. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Defendant’s statements at the courthouse were not protected speech but, rather, constituted true threats under the relevant factors. View "State v. Draskovich" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order refusing to terminate an irrevocable trust and granted summary judgment in favor of the trustees. The sole beneficiary of the trust sought to terminate the trust and requested that the court distribute the assets to her. The beneficiary also alleged that the trustees had breached their fiduciary duties. The circuit court declined to terminate the trust. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in finding the trust to be unambiguous; and (2) the circuit court erred in not terminating the trust and distributing the trust property to the beneficiary because the trust purpose had been fulfilled and because termination of the trust would “substantially further the trustee’s purposes in creating the trust.” View "In re Guardianship & Conservatorship of Novotny" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in this divorce case awarding Husband his interest in an LLC, requiring Husband to pay twenty-five percent of Wife’s student-loan debt, and ordering Husband to make a cash-equalization payment. Husband appealed the judgment, arguing that the circuit court erred in its division of the marital property. The Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in valuing Husband’s interest in an LLC; (2) did not abuse its discretion in awarding Wife one-half the value of the marital assets; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in making Husband responsible for twenty-five percent of Wife’s student-loan debt. View "Richarz v. Richarz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The circuit court erred when it applied de novo review to a decision of the America Township Board of Supervisors and then reversed the Board’s decision downgrading a seven-mile stretch of road from full maintenance to minimum maintenance. A portion of the road at issue provided Appellees access to South Dakota Highway 50. Appellees appealed the Board’s decision. The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision and ordered that minimum maintenance signs be taken down. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) Appellees’ lawsuit was not barred by lack of standing or by sovereign immunity; (2) the circuit court did not err in concluding that the Board acted arbitrarily because the Board failed to consider an important aspect of the issue under S.D. Codified Laws 31-13-1.1; but (3) the circuit court should have remanded the matter back to the Board for a rehearing rather than applying de novo review to the Board’s decision. View "Surat v. America Township" on Justia Law

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In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order granting summary judgment for TSP, Inc. and remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of Western National Mutual Insurance Co. Western National insured BHI Inc. under a commercial general liability (CGL) policy. This dispute arose after the land surveyor hired for a project in which BHI served as the general contractor and TSP served as the architect made a surveying error. To compensate for the error, BHI and TSP agreed to provide the funds to complete the project. TSP, however, paid the entire amount and subsequently sued BHI for damages. Western National refused to provide a defense, and after BHI and TSP settled the case, BHI agreed that TSP could pursue any potential remedy against Western National that BHI might have under the CGL policy. Western National then brought a declaratory judgment action against TSP seeking a judgment that the CGL did not provide coverage for TSP’s claims. The circuit court granted summary judgment for TSP. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a “designated professional services endorsement” in the policy excluded all potential coverage for any property damage caused by the land-surveying error. View "Western National Mutual Insurance Co. v. TSP, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the habeas court’s denial of Appellant’s petition for habeas corpus relief. Appellant pleaded guilty but mentally ill to first-degree manslaughter and to second-degree rape. The circuit court imposed a 130-year sentence for first-degree manslaughter and a forty-five-year sentence for second-degree rape. The Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. Thereafter, Appellant filed a petition for habeas relief, arguing, inter alia, that he was deprived of effective assistance of counsel and was compelled to give testimony against himself where the court ordered a psychological examination and where his attorney failed to warn Appellant that statements made to the examiner could be used against him. The habeas court denied Appellant’s petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant waived his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by failing to invoke it during the psychological examination, and Appellant was not deprived of effective assistance of counsel; and (2) Appellant was not deprived of due process, nor was his counsel ineffective for failing to request a hearing to determine if Appellant should receive provisional institutionalization under S.D. Codified Laws 23A-27-42 View "Iannarelli v. Young" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Mother’s motion for a change of custody in which she sought primary physical custody of the parties’ son. When Mother and Father divorced, they agreed to share legal custody of their son and daughter, with Father having primary physical custody of the son (Son), and Mother having primary physical custody of the daughter. Mother later filed a motion for temporary physical custody of Son after he suffered an asthmatic episode, arguing that Son’s health was imperiled by Father’s long-standing smoking habit. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in determining that Son’s interests were better served by remaining in Father’s physical custody; and (2) did not abuse its discretion by ordering Mother to pay Father’s attorney fees. View "Moulton v. Moulton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for second-degree murder. The court held (1) the circuit court did not err in allowing the State to present other acts evidence to the jury but did err in allowing a witness to testify about Defendant’s alleged abuse against her, but Defendant was not entitled to a new trial on this basis; (2) the State’s presentation of a theory of guilt and motive did not amount to prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct; (3) the circuit court did not err in allowing the State to present testimony from its multiple expert witnesses; (4) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to allow Defendant to present additional instances of alleged child abuse committed by a possible third-party perpetrator; and (5) there was sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction against Defendant. View "State v. Patterson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of a motion for a new trial based on insufficient evidence filed by the South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT), holding that the jury’s verdict was not unsupported by any valid legal theory or evidence. DOT was sued by Reede Construction, Inc., which entered into a contract with DOT to perform highway construction work in Sioux Falls. DOT refused to issue a letter of acceptance after requesting several repairs, many of which Reede failed to perform. After Reede left the job and demanded payment for the repairs it had completed, Reede sued, and DOT counterclaimed. The jury returned a verdict awarding no damages to either party. The circuit court denied DOT’s motion for a new trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that sufficient evidence supported the jury’s verdict. View "Reede Construction, Inc. v. South Dakota Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s personal injury action as a sanction for Plaintiff’s failure to comply with two discovery orders and failure to pay an attorney’s fees sanction for her failure to comply with a motion to compel discovery. The court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in granting Defendant’s motion for a sanction of attorney’s fees against Plaintiff for her failure to produce documents; (2) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint as a sanction for failing to produce IRS Form W-2s; and (3) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint as a sanction for failure to pay the attorney’s fees sanction. View "Coloni v. Coloni" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury