The Aberdeen American News is the last place to look for anything like the "sensationalizing" that Attorney General Marty Jackley claims prevents him from releasing details about his investigation into former GOED chief Richard Benda's death. On today's editorial page, AAN says it believes AG Jackley's finding that Benda committed suicide is accurate.
But the AAN agrees with me that AG Jackley's legal argument for rejecting reporter Bob Mercer's public-records request on the case is bogus. More importantly, the AAN editors contend that by hiding behind Cathy Benda's opposition (out of concern for her 16-year-old daughter) to releasing more records about her ex-husband sets a dangerous precedent:
By denying the records request, Jackley — who could, indeed, make these records public — has cited previous rulings that allowed juvenile victims to have their names redacted from court proceedings.
In this case, however, the victims are the taxpayers of South Dakota. There are no juvenile victims whose names are to be protected.
Jackley has put an undue burden on the records request by requiring a private citizen — a family member — be required to sign-off on the information to be released.
Allowing a private citizen to decide if records are public or not sets a dangerous precedent [editorial, Aberdeen American News, 2014.01.09].
South Dakota's attorney general isn't just citing bogus case law. Attorney General Marty Jackley is ceding his legal authority to an unelected private citizen. Open the Benda files, Mr. Jackley, and show South Dakotans that you came to the right conclusion.