Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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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 affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of first-degree murder and sentencing him to mandatory life in prison. The court held (1) the circuit court did not err in its evidentiary rulings that Defendant consented to the seizure of his property from the hospital and that the revocation of that consent did not require the return of his property; (2) the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized at Defendant’s friend’s house; (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted twenty-six autopsy photographs during the trial; (4) the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial on his claim of improper burden shifting; and (5) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction. View "State v. Hemminger" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Landowners on their inverse condemnation claim against the State seeking damages and a permanent injunction due to flooding on Landowners’ properties. The court held (1) the circuit court did not err in refusing to dismiss Landowners’ inverse condemnation claims based upon the doctrine of sovereign immunity; (2) the circuit court did not err in its determination that the State’s actions caused water to invade and damage Landowners’ properties in violation of S.D. Const. art. VI, 13; (3) the State was not entitled to filed a cross-claim against the City of Sioux Falls for contribution under the Joint Tortfeasor Act; and (4) the State did not acquire a drainage easement over Landowners’ real estate. View "Long v. State" on Justia 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 reversed the circuit court’s determination that a confidential settlement agreement entered into between the City of Sioux Falls and several contractors that built the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls was not open to public inspection under S.D. Codified Laws 1-27. A reporter for the Argus Leader sought a copy of the agreement. After the City denied the request the Argus Leader commenced this action seeing an order compelling the City to provide a copy. The circuit court entered judgment for the City. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the settlement contract at issue did not meet the requirements under section 1-27-1.5(20), and therefore, it is a public record open to inspection. View "Argus Leader Media v. Hogstad" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Rights, Contracts

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of first-degree robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Contrary to Defendant’s arguments on appeal, the court held (1) the State’s evidence was sufficient to corroborate accomplice testimony, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal; (2) even if the circuit court’s admission into evidence several challenged evidentiary items was in error, the error was harmless; (3) the circuit court did not violate Defendant’s right to confront and examine a witness whose out-of-court statements were admitted at trial; and (4) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in imposing Defendant’s sentence. View "State v. Kihega" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the denial of the circuit court’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained after law enforcement officers executed a search warrant for Defendant’s home and arrested Defendant. The officers obtained the warrant based on information gained from a pole camera installed without a warrant on a public street light to record Defendant’s activities outside of his home. On appeal, Defendant argued that the officers’ use of the pole camera without a warrant violated the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court held (1) the warrantless use of the pole camera, installed to observe Defendant’s activities outside his residence for a two-month period, constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment, and therefore, the officer that installed the camera was required to first obtain a warrant; but (2) the officer acted reasonably based on the facts of this case, and the circuit court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motion to suppress based on the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence discovered after police officers executed a search warrant at Defendant’s home. During the search, officers found marijuana in Defendant’s van, which was parked outside the home. The circuit court ruled (1) Defendant did not have a personal, legitimate expectation of privacy in his friend’s home and therefore could not challenge the search; and (2) alternatively, the search did not violate Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motion to suppress because Defendant did not establish a protectable interest in the property searched. View "State v. Gaters" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for eight offenses, rendered after a jury trial. The court held (1) the circuit court did not err in admitting certain out-of-court statements as res gestate evidence; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction of possession of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm; (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction of simple assault on a law enforcement officer while armed with a firearm; and (4) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction of possession of a controlled substance. View "State v. Kiir" on Justia Law

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Ronald Johnson, a South Dakota State Penitentiary correctional officer, was murdered by two inmates during an escape attempt. Lynette Johnson, individually and on behalf of Ronald’s Estate (collectively, Johnson) sued the Department of Corrections (DOC) and a number of its employees in state court, alleging, among other claims, a violation of substantive due process rights under the state and federal constitutions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. DOC removed the case to federal court. The federal court granted summary judgment to DOC on the grounds of qualified immunity and remanded the remaining claims back to state court. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. After the case returned to state court, the circuit court granted DOC’s motion for summary judgment on Johnson’s remaining claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court properly dismissed Johnson’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim; (2) no genuine issues of material fact existed as to Johnson’s fraudulent misrepresentation claim; and (3) the circuit court correctly determined that res judicata barred any constitutional due process claim arising under the South Dakota Constitution. View "Estate of Johnson v. Weber" on Justia Law