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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for first-degree robbery and aiding, abetting, or advising first-degree robbery stemming from two separate cases, holding that any error in the proceedings below was harmless. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court did not by denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictments for violation of his statutory and constitutional rights to a speedy trial; (2) Defendant’s waiver of Miranda rights and subsequent statements were voluntary, knowing, and intelligent; and (3) although Defendant invoked his right to an attorney, his unambiguous request occurred after he had confessed to the crimes, and therefore, the detectives’ error in continuing the interview after that point was harmless, and the circuit court’s failure to exclude Defendant’s post-invocation statements was also harmless. View "State v. Two Hearts" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for second-degree murder, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a firearm by a convicted drug offender, holding that no error occurred in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant’s motion to sever; (2) did not err by allowing other acts evidence and certain opinion testimony to be introduced at trial; (3) did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion for a mistrial; and (4) did not err in denying Defendant’s motions or judgment of acquittal. View "State v. Stone" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellants’ appeal of a decision of the Butte County Commission as untimely, holding that Appellants’ appeal was timely. The Commission held a public hearing on a petition to vacate a public roadway and section line in Butte County. After considering the petition, the Commission voted to approve the petition. Appellants appealed the Commission’s decision to vacate the public roadway and section line. The circuit court dismissed the appeal as untimely. On appeal, Appellants argued that the Commission’s decision could not “become effective” for purposes of S.D. Codified Laws 31-3-34 until it became enforceable. The County argued in response that the Commission’s decision became “effective” on the last date of publication under S.D. Codified Laws 31-3-9. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a Commission’s resolution and order vacating a road becomes effective under section 31-3-34 twenty days after completed publication under section 31-3-9. View "Olson v. Butte County Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of second-degree murder, holding that the circuit court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of first-degree manslaughter. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court abused its discretion by refusing to instruct the jury on first- and second-degree manslaughter and that there was insufficient evidence in the record to support his conviction of second-degree murder. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the evidence entitled Defendant to an instruction on first-degree manslaughter. The Court remanded for a new trial on the issue of jury instructions for lesser-included offenses. View "State v. Swan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding that Stanton Fox had died intestate, determining Fox’s heirs, and entering letters for co-personal representatives, holding that the circuit court did not commit clear error in the proceedings below. When Fox died he was survived by five siblings. Lynette Herstedt and Fox were in an intimate relationship for more than twenty years before Fox died, but the relationship ended prior to his death. Before he died, Fox drafted a handwritten document stating that he wished to revoke all prior wills and codicils. Herstedt filed an application for informal probate and submitted a copy of a former will Fox had drafted. Fox’s siblings claimed the original will was revoked by the subsequent amendment. After a hearing, the circuit court ultimately found that Fox had died intestate, determined Fox’s heirs, and appointed co-personal representatives. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not clearly err in finding that Herstedt had not proffered a valid will because Fox had revoked it prior to his death; (2) did not err in granting the various petitions; and (3) did not abuse its discretion in proceeding with a hearing on November 1, 2017. View "In re Estate of Fox" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Box Elder on William Maher’s claim that the City negligently operated its water system and caused his waterlines to break, holding that the public duty rule did not apply in this case. In moving for summary judgment, the City argued that the public duty rule precluded imposition of a duty because Maher failed to establish that the City owed him a special duty. The circuit court agreed with the City and granted summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the public duty rule did not apply in this case; and (2) the City owed Maher a duty to use reasonable care in its operation of its water system. View "Maher v. City of Box Elder" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentence, imposing in connection with his conviction of second-degree rape, of forty years in the state penitentiary, with five years suspended, to run consecutive to the prison term Defendant was currently serving in Iowa for offenses involving the same victim, holding that the sentence was not cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) after weighing the gravity of the offense against the sentence Defendant received, the circuit court did not violate Defendant’s constitutional rights by imposing a sentence within the authorized fifty-year maximum; and (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Yeager" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Retirement System (SDRS) denying Debra Lee Anderson’s application for survivor spouse benefits under Deborah Cady’s retirement plan with the SDRS, holding that Anderson was not entitled to receive survivor benefits. Anderson and Cady both worked for the Rapid City Police Department. In 2012, Cady retired from the department. In 2015, Anderson and Cady married. In 2017, Cady died. Anderson applied for survivor spouse benefits, but the SDRS denied the application because Anderson and Cady were not married at the time of Cady’s retirement and because Anderson did not meet the definition of a “spouse” under S.D. Codified Laws 3-12-47(80). The South Dakota Officer of Hearing Examiners and circuit court both affirmed the SDRS. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the relevant statutes, Anderson could not meet the definition of “spouse” and therefore was not entitled to Cady’s survivor benefits under South Dakota law; and (2) there was no discrimination on the basis of Anderson’s gender or sexual orientation. View "Anderson v. South Dakota Retirement System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s orders granting Defendants’ motion to vacate default judgments and in granting summary judgment for Defendants in this personal injury action, holding that summary judgment was proper because Plaintiff did not resist summary judgment with specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial on the question of causation for his claimed injuries. Plaintiff brought this action following a car accident and obtained default judgments against Defendants. Defendants filed a motion to set aside the default judgments, which the circuit court granted. Thereafter, Defendants moved for summary judgment not he grounds that Plaintiff could not prove causation absent an expert opinion showing his injuries were caused by the collision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in concluding that expert testimony was necessary to prove the accident proximately caused Plaintiff’s injuries; and (2) under the circumstances, the court did not err in granting Defendants’ motion to set aside the default judgment or in denying Defendant’s motion to reinstate the default judgment. View "Cooper v. Brownell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for unauthorized possession of a controlled substance and admitting to five prior felony convictions but reversed Defendant’s sentence, holding that the record lacked a sufficient statement of aggravating circumstances that would justify a departure from a presumptive sentence. Here, the judgment and sentence contained a purported statement of aggravating circumstances, but it was not provided by the sentencing court on the record. The Supreme Court held (1) under S.D. Codified Laws 22-6-11, the sentencing court, not the prosecutor, must state on the record the aggravating circumstances impacting public safety as a predicate to departing from a presumptive sentence and include those factors in the written judgment; and (2) the circuit court incorrectly determined that section 22-6-11 did not apply and in sentencing Defendant as though he had actually been convicted of a class C felony, rather than a class 5 felony. View "State v. Roedder" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law