Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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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 the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment for certain Internet sellers (Sellers) and enjoining the State from enforcing 2016 legislation extending the obligation to collect and remit sales tax to sellers with no physical presence in the state. Pursuant to the legislation, the State brought this declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that Sellers, who had no physical presence in the state, must comply with the requirements of the 2016 legislation. The circuit court enjoined the State from enforcing the obligation to collect and remit sales tax against Sellers, observing its obligation to adhere to Supreme Court precedent prohibiting the imposition of an obligation to collect and remit sales tax on sellers with no physical presence in the State. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly applied the law when it granted Sellers’ motion for summary judgment. View "State v. Wayfair Inc." 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

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Defendant was convicted of possessing cocaine and sentenced to imprisonment for five years, fully suspended on conditions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when the trial court refused to grant Defendant’s motion to suppress and permitted an officer to testify that Defendant refused to provide a urine sample after her arrest; (2) the circuit court did not err by refusing to permit Defendant to offer evidence that the State did not obtain a warrant for a urine sample, and an officer’s testimony regarding Defendant’s statements was not inadmissible hearsay; and (3) the prosecutor did not commit misconduct during the State’s closing argument. View "State v. Stanley" on Justia Law

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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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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 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