The Black Hills woman who led the fight to make animal cruelty a felony in South Dakota has won some national recognition. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has named Shari Crouch Kosel one of America's Top Ten Animal Defenders:

Shari Crouch Kosel and friend (photo from ALDF)

Shari Crouch Kosel and friend (photo from ALDF)

Shari Crouch Kosel is the co-founder and chair of South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SDFACT). In 2008, Shari’s neighbor’s dog was tortured and murdered, which inspired Shari to begin a crusade for a felony penalty for animal cruelty at the state level. Years of letter writing, media outreach, and contacting legislators and law enforcement led to connections with advocates Sara Parker, Heidi Hunter, and Darci Adams. Together, they formed SDFACT, a small, grassroots nonprofit, whose sole mission was to pass felony-level penalties for animal cruelty.

In 2013, SDFACT worked with the Senate Agriculture Committee, the state veterinarian, and other agricultural entities. Months of meetings and passionate discussions in 2014 led to an agreement: a felony bill was born. Ultimately, it gained wide support from all entities in the state. In large part thanks to Shari’s dedication and hard work, in 2014 South Dakota became the 50th and final state to make malicious animal cruelty a felony [link added; Animal Legal Defense Fund, profile of Shari Kosel, downloaded 2015.02.25].

Kosel is not out there advocating for voting rights for dogs. Neither are the other members of ALDF's Top Ten Animal Defenders. Far from fringe activists, the majority of the honorees are law enforcement officials, good public officials out there arresting and prosecuting animal abusers whose cruelty toward weaker four-leggeds demonstrates dangerous anti-social inclinations.

Congratulations, Shari! Keep up the good work!

6 comments

KELO-TV's Perry Groten points out that Annette Bosworth's recent legal defense fundraising pitch is delusional. But might her fundraising letters also violate federal campaign finance law?

Bosworth has sent letters to supporters from her Senate campaign asking them to help raise $400,000 for her legal defense fund. Bosworth has already paid over $62,000 from her Senate campaign fund to lawyers working on her defense in the petition perjury trial she faces in May. Bosworth apparently views her perjury trial as a permissible use of campaign funds, which it likely is under the Federal Election Commission's "irrespective" test, since the trial arises directly from campaign activities.

So the perjury trial is a campaign activity. Cool. But neither the $400K pitch nor her courtroom-packing pitch identify themselves as being paid for by the Annette Bosworth for Senate campaign. They contain none of the disclamatory language required by the Federal Election Commission. And if Bosworth doesn't report those donations on her FEC campaign finance reports, she's in serious trouble.

So keep in mind, those of you getting Bosworth's letters and thinking about writing a check: your donations to the "legal defense fund" may really be donations to the campaign and should be a matter of public record with the Federal Election Commission.

p.s.: $400,000 for this one perjury trial? Bosworth has a tendency to inflate costs in her fundraising letters. $400K seems pretty steep for a trial in which the only defensible avenue counsel has is to admit guilt and beg for mercy. But not to worry: if the KELO comment section is any indication ("complete fruitcake... crooked... mentally ill..."), Bosworth's Facebook Likers have disappeared, right along with her fundraising potential.

67 comments

We now have charges in the January 24 incident in which drunk honyockers in a VIP box at a Rapid City Rush hockey game allegedly threw beer and racial insults at Indian kids from the American Horse School. Rapid City Police considered charges of assault, hate crime, and child abuse, but they now say the evidence uncovered by their month-long investigation only supports charges of disorderly conduct against Trace O'Connell of Philip.

American Horse School officials are not satisfied:

Some people at a meeting at American Horse School Wednesday say they were shocked when they heard only one misdemeanor charge was filed, against only one person.

School board member Justin Poor Bear says, "We feel there was injustice. Upset. Anger. A lot of anger. We feel like there was nothing done to help us."

...Thursday afternoon, we received a copy of a letter from Oglala Sioux Tribe president John Yellow Bird Steele to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a Justice Department investigation into what the tribal president describes as "racial harassment" [Jack Caudill, "American Horse School Reacts to Charge," KEVN-TV, 2015.02.19].

After the charge and O'Connell's name were made public Wednesday, O'Connell received so many death threats that law enforcement moved the O'Connell family out of their home. So says Patrick Duffy, O'Connell's client, who says the hockey game incident has been (in the words of SDPB's Charles Michael Ray) "blown up in social media":

"My client didn't say anything racist. We're gonna find out when we go to trial what really happened. But my client and I apologize, really, I apologize to the children of the Lakota Nation for how they have been made to feel about this. I look upon them with nothing but respect as does my client, and he is really heartbroken over this" [Patrick Duffy, interview with Charles Michael Ray, "Disorderly Conduct Charge Angers Some Native Parents," SDPB Radio, 2015.02.19].

Duffy makes a similar claim in the Rapid City Journal:

There are two casualties in this case, Duffy, O'Connell's attorney, said: the truth and the students who attended the hockey game. The truth, he said, has been tarnished by hearsay that exploded on social media.

“The real casualty has been these children. They only know what they have been told has happened,” Duffy said. “Obviously, all of us in South Dakota need a good dose of truth before this case can possibly be laid to rest” [Andrea Cook, "City: Philip Man Charged with Disorderly Conduct in Rush Hockey Game Incident," Rapid City Journal, 2015.02.18].

Look out, fellow media: it sounds like Duffy says daylight for his client in putting us on trial. That should make us nervous, because Duffy is a heck of a lawyer.

And just to make things interesting, you can't dismiss Duffy as some white apologist for racism. He has taken tough cases defending Indians in the past, like the October 2013 police tasering of a Rosebud Sioux child and the landmark 2004–2005 Bone Shirt v. Hazeltine case on Indian voting rights in South Dakota. Sure, Duffy is a lawyer, paid to provide the legal representation to which every citizen is entitled, but when Patrick Duffy says he and his client respect Indians, he's got serious credibility to back that claim up.

Throwing beer and racial insults at kids is not acceptable. Neither are death threats that force an accused man to move his family out of their home for their own safety. Trace O'Connell now faces the glare of publicity and accountability before the law before the crime of which he is accused. He also has one of the best defense attorneys a man could ask for in a case like this. Let's hear the evidence the witnesses, the police, and the defense can bring forward through the proper legal process to help us understand what happened.

246 comments

The South Dakota Legislature has before it a bill declaring that personhood begins at conception. House Bill 1212 adds fifteen words to our child abuse statutes:

For purposes of this section, a child conceived, but not born, is deemed a minor.

Conceived, but not born—you know what that means: abortion becomes child abuse. Taking the morning-after pill becomes child abuse. Mess with a fertilized egg (never mind implantation, which science says is when pregnancy starts; we're talking fundies like Hobby Lobby who say the magic moment is when sperm meets egg, if not earlier), and HB 1212 would bust you for a Class 3 felony.

HB 1212 is a total abortion ban in disguise. HB 1212 may also ban in vitro fertilization. Consider standard medical practice in making test-tube babies:

Any embryos that you do not use in your first IVF attempt can be frozen for later use. This will save you money if you undergo IVF a second or third time. If you do not want your leftover embryos, you may donate them to another infertile couple, or you and your partner can ask the clinic to destroy the embryos. Both you and your partner must agree before the clinic will destroy or donate your embryos ["Infertility and In Vitro Fertilization," WebMD, reviewed by Nivin Todd, M.D., 2015.01.18, downloaded 2015.02.13].

Freezing minor children sounds pretty cruel to me. Destroying minor children is most certainly abuse. Cuff those doctors and those heartless infertile parents!

Classifying embryos as minors opens the door to dragging any women who miscarries before a child abuse tribunal. South Dakota law requires doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals, among others, to report suspected child abuse. If any of those professionals encounter a woman who has had a miscarriage, and if they think the woman may have done something that may have caused that miscarriage, HB 1212 would interact with existing statute to compel those health care providers to break their professional confidence and report that woman as a potential child abuser.

House Judiciary was supposed to take up HB 1212 this week, but chairman Rep. G. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls) deferred it to next week, Wednesday, February 18, 10:00 a.m. CST, in Room 413, when it will jostle for attention on the agenda with the Benda-Bollen conflict-of-interest bills, a gun bill, a bill curtailing my ability to make a living doing my Mike Rounds impression, and Rep. Steve Hickey's bill dealing with cases of real child abuse. Let's help focus House Judiciary's attention: contact Chairman Mickelson, Vice-Chairman Mike Stevens (R-18/Yankton), and the other members of this committee over this long weekend (the Legislature doesn't reconvene until Tuesday) to tell them to kill this bill fast and stop trying to sneak abortion bans into South Dakota law.

20 comments

I've mentioned Rep. Dan Kaiser's (R-3/Aberdeen) House Bill 1134, which removes the loophole prosecutors can use to prevent the expungement of arrest records, which allows the state to continue persecuting innocent people they've wrongly arrested.

At Saturday's crackerbarrel in Aberdeen, Rep. Kaiser explained why HB 1134 is important to him and to democracy:

Rep. Dan Kaiser (R-3/Aberdeen) speaks at crackerbarrel, Northern State University, Aberdeen, South Dakota, February 7, 2015.

Rep. Dan Kaiser (R-3/Aberdeen) speaks at crackerbarrel, Aberdeen, South Dakota, February 7, 2015.

...[T]his bill reeks of Americanism. This is an expungement bill of people with arrests, not people who have been convicted, and in America, you are innocent until proven guilty.Now, unfortunately, in Third World countries, they have laws set up where the government gets to keep their thumb on people, innocent people. And sadly, I view it, that is our state law right now, that even people whose charges have been dismissed because there is not enough evidence to bring their case forward cannot that off the record. By definition, as Americans, these people are innocent, and yet we have laws in place that allow the government to keep their thumb on those folks [Rep. Dan Kaiser, remarks, crackerbarrel, Aberdeen, SD, 2015.02.07].

The two main perpetrators of the Third World thuggery that prompted HB 1134, Beadle County state's attorney Michael Moore and Attorney General Marty Jackley, both testified against HB 1134 before House Judiciary on Wednesday. Sounding nervous, Moore said the Brandon Taliaferro case was the only expungement request in twenty years that he has turned down. Moore said he applies three criteria to expungement requests:

  1. Did the person deserve to be charged? Moore insisted that, based on victim input and grand jury findings, Taliaferro deserved his charges.
  2. Does the person requesting expungement come to the prosecutor's office and explain why he deserves expungement? Apparently Moore expects applicants to ask him personally for the expungement, to explain how they have changed their life around."
  3. Does the expungement meet the interests of justice and the public? Moore did not elaborate on this point. But he apparently disagrees with the South Dakota Supreme Court's finding that the refusal to expunge Taliaferro's arrest, while legal, was "harsh."

Moore said no law should be changed because of one instance. He complained that no legislators had asked him to explain the details of the Taliaferro case motivating HB 1134. "At least get the facts: call me, I'll take you to lunch, I'll explain to you this case and why I withheld my consent." Moore did not lay out those facts for the committee at Wednesday's hearing; he apparently believes matters of justice like this should be resolved in a nice off-the-record lunch.

Rep. Mike Stevens (R-18/Yankton) dismissed Moore's contention that HB 1134 is a response to just one particular case. He summarized the effect of HB 1134 in committee discussion Wednesday:

...[I]t's a matter of due process. Our United States Constitution and our state of South Dakota constitution, at the heart of it is due process, fairness, having an opportunity to have a hearing. And when you have a statute like we have right now that allows one person to prevent due process, to me, that's not fairness, and that's not accountability [Rep. Mike Stevens, discussion of HB 1134, House Judiciary Committee, Pierre, South Dakota, 2015.02.04].

Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-6/Tea) asked Moore if a judge is less biased in deciding whether to expunge an arrest than the state's attorney who made that arrest. Moore rejected the assumption that prosecutor's are biased. "I'm probably the most forgiving prosecutor I know," averred Moore. He said he has to stand for election and wouldn't win re-election if he were biased.

Point of reality: state's attorneys are inherently biased. They order the arrest. They bring the charges. They stake their reputations on the outcome of a public trial in an adversarial system that presumes and accepts bias from both sides and leaves it to judge and jury to sort things out.

Attorney General Marty Jackley joined Moore to raise constitutional concerns. He said the 2012 Oliver case, which informed the 2014 Taliaferro ruling, hinged on Article 3 Section 4 of the state constitutions, which vests the power of expungement entirely within the executive branch, not the judicial branch. HB 1134 would thus unconstitutionally take away the executive branch's authority over expungements via prosecutorial consent.

Lindsey Riter-Rapp of the South Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers made short shrift of that argument. She noted that Oliver dealt with an individual who requested expungement of an arrest that led to conviction. HB 1134 deals with expungements for innocent individuals, against whom charges were never filed, whose case the prosecutor dismissed, or who win acquittal.

Rep. Timothy Johns (R-30/Lead), a former judge, further schooled AG Jackley, asking why, in the spirit of open government, a prosecutor under the reform of HB 1134 couldn't still go to the judge and make his case against expungement. AG Jackley was non-responsive, resorting instead to the comment that expunging arrests violates the spirit of openness by allowing people to "misrepresent" whether they've been arrested. Rep. Johns rolled past AG Jackley's barricades, affirmed Riter-Rapp's reading of Oliver, rejected any suggestion that HB 1134 is unconstitutional, and said any prosecutor who wants to block an expungement should go to the judge and explain why.

AG Jackley also attempted to conflate the issue of Taliaferro's arrest with Taliaferro's firing as a deputy prosecutor in Brown County. AG Jackley said the state's attorney had acted appropriately in terminating a prosecutor who had behave inappropriately and that while that inappropriate behavior was not necessarily criminal, that fact did not justify expunging the arrest or making an unconstitutional statute.

AG Jackley's sentence should have stopped at "not necessarily criminal." If an action is "not necessarily criminal," why is any arrest taking place? Why is the state keeping its thumb on an individual for an arrest that never should have taken place?

Rep. Kaiser HB 1134 identifies a clear problem with current law. AG Jackley and prosecutor Moore have used state law to punish an innocent man. Their testimony Wednesday, which gave no specifics on why Brandon Talieferro's unjust arrest should remain on his record, further exposes that urge to oppress and deceive. State law currently allows them to exert that oppressive power unchecked. HB 1134 justly removes prosecutors' opportunity to abuse their power.

So far, the majority agrees. HB 1134 passed House Judiciary 9–3 Wednesday and cleared the full House 64–2 Thursday. The only nays in the full House came from two Democrats, Rep. Peggy Gibson (D-22/Huron) and Rep. Kevin Killer (D-27/Pine Ridge). HB 1134 next goes to Senate Judiciary, date to be determined.

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Senator Corey Brown wants to have a fight over initiative and referendum signature counts. Seeing that the people and press were outraged by his democracy-hating Senate Bill 166, the Senator from Gettysburg asked that his bill be tabled, but not before issuing a legal threat to future petitioners:

...as you saw by our agenda today, we have many bigger fish to fry and there are a lot of things that we have to discuss and maybe ultimately we just need to let the courts deal with this... [Senator Corey Brown, remarks on Senate Bill 166, Senate State Affairs Committee, 2015.02.06].

You want to go to court, Corey? Fine. As one non-licensed legal scholar to another, let's rumble.

In his remarks yesterday, Senator Brown claimed that, in setting the threshold for petition signatures needed to place initiatives and referenda on the ballot, South Dakota law has adopted a definition of "qualified electors" that is "kind of contrary to what the constitution indicates." Citing the 1994 Poppen v. Walker ruling that briefly overturned video lottery, Senator Brown contends that only the Supreme Court, not the Legislature, may define terms in the state constitution.

Let's look at the relevant texts:

South Dakota Constitution, Article 3, Section 1, clause setting petition signature requirements:

Not more than five percent of the qualified electors of the state shall be required to invoke either the initiative or the referendum.

SD Const., Article 7, Section 2, on voter qualifications:

Every United States citizen eighteen years of age or older who has met all residency and registration requirements shall be entitled to vote in all elections and upon all questions submitted to the voters of the state unless disqualified by law for mental incompetence or the conviction of a felony. The Legislature may by law establish reasonable requirements to insure the integrity of the vote.

Each elector who qualified to vote within a precinct shall be entitled to vote in that precinct until he establishes another voting residence. An elector shall never lose his residency for voting solely by reason of his absence from the state."

SDCL 2-1-5, establishing the practical basis for signature requirements:

The total number of votes cast for Governor at the last preceding gubernatorial election, shall for the purposes of this chapter, be the basis for determining the number of petitioners required.

Senator Brown's proposed replacement language in SB 166:

For purposes of this chapter, qualified electors shall mean the total registered voters eligible to cast a ballot for Governor in the preceding gubernatorial election as determined by the secretary of state.

Const. 3-1 says initiative and referendum petition signature requirements shall not be more than 5% of "qualified electors." Const. 7-2 defines qualified electors. SDCL 2-1-5 doesn't mention "qualified electors." It sets a perfectly constitutional threshold for available signatories that will always be less than or equal to the threshold set in Const. 3-1.

If Senator Brown thinks current law somehow legislatively co-opts the Supreme Court's authority to define constitutional terms, his own proposed language violates that standard more blatantly. His SB 166 says "qualified elector." Brown writes a new definition not found in the state constitution. Brown, a legislator, is defining a constitutional term, which Brown is telling us the Supreme Court says he cannot do. Brown's bill is thus unconstitutional.

Brown's bill further violates the constitutional signature threshold by math. Const. 3-1 refers to "Not more than five percent of the qualified electors of the state...." It does not say the number of qualified electors yesterday or three months ago or three years ago. Taken by itself, that provision means qualified electors in existence, right now. Senator Brown is trying to qualify that constitutional definition with an arbitrary and fixed date.

Consider that, by the Secretary of State's count, there were 519,361 registered voters ("qualified electors") available for the 2010 gubernatorial election. By July 1, 2012, around when our referendum petitions on Governor Dennis Daugaard's HB 1234 education reform were due, the number of registered voters had dropped to 512,799. Had SB 166 been in effect then, petitioneers would have had to collect 25,969 signatures, which would have been 329 more voters than 5% of the qualified electors in existence in South Dakota at that time.

That, Senator Brown, would have been a stone-cold violation of the state constitution. I'd have taken your bill to court, and you would have lost.

I look forward to circulating initiative petitions this spring and summer here in Aberdeen. I may volunteer to walk around Gettysburg to get all of Senator Brown's neighbors' signatures on the good legislation citizens will propose. And I relish the opportunity to see whatever court challenge Senator Brown is threatening us with go down in flames as democracy marches on over his stilted legal arguments.

69 comments

Senator Corey Brown (R-23/Gettysburg) does not lose gracefully. His Senate Bill 166 was a spiteful and crassly political ploy to weaken voters' right to legislate via initiative and referendum. The press blasted him, a variety of citizens and groups rose against SB 166, and numerous opponents trekked to Pierre yesterday to testify against this destructive bill yesterday.

A bigger man would have responded with a simple apology: I'm sorry. You're right. Senate Bill 166 is a bad idea. I withdraw the bill.

Senator Brown is a bigger something else. When Senate State Affairs finally reached SB 166, after opponents had waited through more than three hours of testimony and discussion in on other issues, Senator Brown took the mic, dismissed "the vast majority" of the opposition as thoughtless and impolite, and craftily tabled—not withdrew, but tabled—his bill before patient, thoughtful citizens had any chance to put their opposition on the record.

Senator Brown also misportrayed Senate Bill 166 as a sincere defense of the state constitution and continued his war against the initiative and referendum by threatening to take petitioners to court.

Here is Senator Brown's complete statement, for the record. All blockquotes are Brown's words, in my transcription. My translations, corrections, and commentary are inserted between blockquotes. This portion of the hearing begins at 3:12:36 on the SDPB audio.

You know, when we are elected, I think most of us take that very seriously and we come here to pierre with the idea that we're going to address problems and issues. Most of the colleagues that I've met here in the Legislature have a true interest in trying to find better ways forward or to take care of things that are deemed incorrect. We also take pretty seriously the oath to defend and support the constitution of the state [Senator Corey Brown, remarks on Senate Bill 166, Senate State Affairs Committee, 2015.02.06].

Translation: I'm awesome. I'm brave and noble. I would never propose a bill just to take away a democratic tool that citizens have used to challenge my party's political agenda and undo the things ALEC tells me to do. Never.

I realize that Senate Bill 166 has generated a lot of discussion.

Translation: I'm awesome for introducing such a thought-provoking bill.

Unfortunately I'd say the vast majority of that discussion has not been nearly as thoughtful as I would have hoped that it would have been.

Translation: People criticizing my awesome idea are clearly idiots.

Essentially we have an issue or at least I believe we do, and a lot of you have heard me speak to this, but I think South Dakota, as you know, was one of the first—it was the first state to allow for initiatied measures and referendums. And in the constitution, there was language that was put in there to talk about qualified electors, and that's what the petitions are supposed to be based off of. You can also turn to section... Article 7 in the constitution which talks about the definition of an elector. When you marry those two things up, I think we run into a third problem, and one of the pieces that really hasn't been discussed in this entire conversation has been the Supreme Court Case in 1994, which was Poppen v. Walker. Now that case didn't have anything to do with initiated measures or referendums. What it dealt with basically the gaming industry.

Poppen v. Walker found in 1994 that video lottery as then constituted was unconstitutional because the Legislature had created a gambling mechanism that did not conform to the court's constructed definition of the "lottery" authorized by popular vote in 1986.

Senator Brown commits supreme irony in turning for legal support to a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature had violated a constitutional provision that had been approved by the people.

However, there was a major finding in that case that I think is critical to this discussion today. And I'll just read it to you. Basically the Supreme Court came back and said, "It is the duty of the Supreme Court not the Legislature to determine the meaning of constitutional terms."

Unfortunately, if you look at our state statute, the Legislature at one point adopted code very early in our statehood that tried to define what an elector was, and basically they said you needed to go back and take a look at the last election for Governor, and it will be based off a percentage of that.

Correction: the statute in question, SDCL 2-1-5, was enacted in 1939, fifty years after statehood, and amended in 1976. Neither date qualifies as "very early in our statehood."

The problem is we as a Legislature defined what those electors were, kind of contrary to what the constitution indicates.

Correction: The problem is that not one word of current statute is contrary to language in either of the constitutional provisions Senator Brown cites. Stay tuned: I'm working up a separate post dedicated to that topic.

As we go forward, and I should point out that... I don't know the exact reasoning for why that was put into place way back when, but I think, as it's been pointed out to me, when that was adopted, we were at a point in our state's history where when you registered to vote. you did it every two years. You had to come back in and re-register when the county would call that together, and unfortunately, I don't think the tracking mechanisms were very good.

Essentially, at that point in the state's history, the only way you could really go back and figure out how many people were there was you had to go back and look at the last election and see how many people voted for governor

So I think there was a practical reason to put that in there at one point, and obviously it's remained there for a long time.

However, I think society, technology have got ahead and caught us up to a point where we can go on the secretary of state's website and know how many registered voters there are today. And that's, those are the words that were put in the constitution.

Having said all of that, I'm quite surprised that a lot of folks are willing to not engage in an intellectual conversation.

More irony: A South Dakota Republican legislator complains that citizens are not sufficiently intellectual.

And there was something that occurred last night that made me realize that this has really become too big of a distraction for this Legislature to deal with. I had a call from the page advisor. Opponents are calling the Capitol using swear words and curse words at our high school pages. That is absolutely pathetic. I cannot believe that we would reach that level.

Big translation: Political discourse is over in South Dakota. If activists want to kill a bill, all they need to do is call the Capitol, get on the phone with a high school page, and say, "That bill sucks, dagnabit!"

I find such discourse unintellectual and immoral. But if we're being practical (and I want you to think about the moral compass of various special interest groups), what's cheaper:

  1. Running a candidate to unseat Corey Brown?
  2. Hiring a lobbyist?
  3. Mounting a petition drive to refer Senator Brown's bad laws? or,
  4. Cussing out a page?

Senator Brown is obviously blowing smoke. If I were a legislator, and if some frail blossom of youth on my page staff came weeping to me that some mean citizen had burned her ears with foul language over a bill I cared about, I'd console her, assure her we'd keep her safe, but I'd also take the teachable moment, "Dear girl, some people are nasty, and they will try to distract us from doing what's right. But this bill matters, and we aren't going to let the bullies win."

The shorter translation: Corey Brown has no spine, and he's teaching kids to cave to bullies.

And so in the interest of allowing this Legislature—as you saw by our agenda today, we have many bigger fish to fry and there are a lot of things that we have to discuss and maybe ultimately we just need to let the courts deal with this—I'm going to ask that the committee table this bill so we can move on to the other issues that we have before us.

Translation: With opponents gathered to roast this bill, let's put it on the table. I'm not withdrawing it, and once these people leave, maybe I'll bring it back. Or maybe I'll just sue anyone who dares bring an initiative or referendum this year. Who knows? I'm determined to undermine the initiative and referendum, and if I can't get this bill passed, I'm going to at least create as much uncertainty as I can for all those citizens who think they are better than I am at making laws.

At that point, after allowing Senator Brown his grandstanding and insults, without allowing any opponents to speak, Senate State Affairs did indeed table Senate Bill 166. If SB 166 stays dead, we will at least be spared a bad bill. But sore loser Senator Corey Brown remains unapologetically committed to insulting the people of South Dakota and their constitutional right to legislate.

35 comments

You know, for being a conservative verging on Libertarian, Rep. Dan Kaiser (R-3/Aberdeen) sure likes proposing laws. He's prime sponsor of seven bills in the hopper so far (and he has until Tuesday to come up with more!). But sometimes you've got to pass laws to protect liberty.

One of Rep. Kaiser's bills, House Bill 1134, rights a wrong discussed on this blog and highlighted by the South Dakota Supreme Court last fall. HB 1134 would remove the clause under which Beadle County state's attorney Michael Moore and Attorney General Marty Jackley were able to punish attorney Brandon Taliaferro (pronounced /TOL - li - ver/) for challenging abuses of Native American children in the foster care system. The state presented no evidence that Taliaferro had committed any of the crimes for which it arrested him, but one niggling statute allowed prosecutor Moore to block Taliaferro's request to expunge the arrest record and allow him to practice law and go about his business without further impact from the bogus charges Moore brought. The South Dakota Supreme Court recognized Moore's action unjustly harmed Taliaferro but said the law is the law and dismissed Taliaferro's effort to win expungement.

Rep. Kaiser now seeks to erase prosecutors' authority to block expungement of arrests. As Bob Mercer points out, Rep. Kaiser has the backing of some legal heavy-hitters:

Kaiser is a policeman and his record in the Legislature has tended to be one of protecting people’s personal liberties. His co-sponsors include two retired circuit judges, Rep. Timothy Johns, R-Lead, and Sen. Arthur Rusch, R-Vermillion, and two private attorneys, Rep. Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, and Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls [Bob Mercer, "Supreme Court: 'We Recognize This Is a Harsh Result'," Pure Pierre Politics, 2015.01.29].

As always, Mercer chooses his words carefully, but he appears to agree that the state treated Taliaferro poorly and that those poor treaters deserve some scrutiny:

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee; a hearing hasn’t been scheduled yet. The Tailaferro indictment looked, from the outside, to have been a strange chapter in law enforcement in South Dakota. Now the matter and the actions of the various sides will receive further light, to a degree they previously hadn’t, before the Legislature [Mercer, 2015.01.29].

HB 1134 won't restore Taliaferro, but it will protect innocent citizens like him from future abuses of prosecutorial power. Stay tuned for the House Judiciary hearing: we'll see if Attorney General Marty Jackley can defend this prosecutorial veto power over the expungement of their own erroneous persecutions before the Legislature the way he did before the Supreme Court.

15 comments

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    South Dakota’s smartest high school seniors will have the opportunity to ask Governor Dennis Daugaard why he thinks their labor is worth a dollar less tomorrow at lunch in Pierre: More than 200 graduating seniors from South Dakota’s public, private and Tribal/Bureau of Indian Education schools will be honored at the 2015 Academic Excellence Recognition Luncheon on […]
  • Rapid City Boosters Post Five Arguments for School Opt-Out 2015.04.25
    Supporters of the referred school opt-out have taken to the web. Support Our Schools RC urges Rapid City school district voters to vote yes on June 2 for the six-million-dollar, five-year tax levy that the Rapid City school board approved in March. Their homepage banner offers five main reasons to vote Yes: For the Kids: Our kids deserve the best education […]
  • “In God We Trust” Anti-Labor Propaganda from 1930s Corporate Bosses 2015.04.25
    An eager reader sends me this Fresh Air interview with Kevin Kruse, author of One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America. Kruse says making “In God We Trust” the national motto wasn’t a 1950s response to Soviet Communism; it was really a 1930s millionaires’ offensive against American labor unions and the New Deal: The New Deal had […]
  • Planned Parenthood Offers Free STD Testing in Sioux Falls April 28, 29, May 1 2015.04.25
    The nice folks at Planned Parenthood are good neighbors. South Dakota has a problem with sexually transmitted diseases, and Planned Parenthood is addressing that problem by offering free STD testing next week: WHAT: In honor of Get Yourself Tested (GYT) Month, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) will offer free STD testing, in […]
  • Prom Spending Crazy, But Kids Still Deserve Equal Pay for Equal Work 2015.04.25
    One way to kill the argument for killing the youth minimum wage cut is to point out the foolishness on which kids spend their money, like three-hundred-dollar “promposals”: One way to ask someone to a prom is to walk up to ask. Financial cost: nothing. But today we have “promposals” — the name for extravagant invitations […]
  • Rounds Says 10th Amendment Supreme, Supports with Two Examples of Court Rejecting 10th Amendment 2015.04.24
    Senator Mike Rounds pretends to be Tea Party, and the best he can do is bleat ineffectually about lost court cases. Senator Rounds is among 33 Congressional Republicans who contributed articles to a glorified PDF anthology from the Tea Party Express. Senator Rounds chooses to write about the vital role of the Tenth Amendment in protecting states’ rights. […]
  • Back to 75 West of Rapid? State Transportation Commission May Back Away from 80 2015.04.24
    The state Transportation Commission has previously mentioned the possibility of temporarily rolling back the new 80-mile-per-hour speed limit on Interstate 90 around Sturgis. Now Bob Mercer reports that, baed on citizen feedback and safety concerns, the Transportation Commission may permanently reduce the speed limit on I-90 between Rapid City and the Wyoming border to 75 miles per hour: State Transportation […]
  • SD Teacher Shortage: Schools Offering Contracts Month Earlier 2015.04.24
    Among things the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students should not debate is whether South Dakota has a teacher shortage. The mainstream media now speaks of the teacher shortage as a given, as evidenced in this KELO-TV report on schools posting and filling teaching positions sooner: With fewer applicants, school districts are not wasting any time posting […]

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