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Strong v. Gant: What Is the Statute of Limitations?

Last updated on 2013.01.30

Stephanie Strong is suing Secretary of State Jason Gant for illegally validating Rep. Brian Gosch's illegally self-notarized petitions. Judge Robert Mandel has ordered Secretary Gant to either yank Rep. Gosch from the ballot or show up at the Pennington County Courthouse October 3 to explain why he shouldn't.

Secretary Gant's former Pierre minion, Pat Powers, lurches online to declare that Ms. Strong is a "fool" with "no freaking idea what she's doing." And indeed, whatever lawyer the Howie-Randazzo cabal found to write up her legal papers likely screwed up by filing in the wrong jurisdiction. Republican legal aficionado Bryce Rausch weighs in here with SDCL 12-1-13, which seems to suggest Strong had just five days back during primary season to challenge Gant's Gosch-darned malfeasance. Slightly grayer eminence Lee Schoenbeck agrees, perhaps on other statutory grounds that Strong's challenge was not timely filed.

Lee gets paid to do law; I shouldn't question his ruling. But if we read just three lines farther in South Dakota election law, we find the five-day limit Rausch cites may not preclude Strong's action:

SDCL 12-1-16: Other legal remedies to challenge petition not precluded. If a person fails to challenge a petition pursuant to § 12-1-13, it does not deny that person any other legal remedy to challenge the filing of a nominating, initiative, or referendum petition.

I labor under no illusion that Strong will breeze into court and crush the fully mobilized GOP state legal machine. I'm laying slightly better odds that she will either launch into a recitation of the Articles of Confederation in the courtroom or miss court completely after failing answer a call about the change of venue from the Hughes County Clerk of Courts.

But if Strong can stay focused, SDCL 12-1-16 at least seems to leave the door open for her to confront Secretary Gant with the facts and legal merits of her case against him.


  1. mike 2012.09.21

    Nice work Cory!

  2. Rorschach 2012.09.21

    As I said on this blog (before Lee Schoenbeck and Bryce Rausch weighed in) Stephanie Strong is too late. Her filing in RC rather than Pierre isn't going to matter in the outcome, which will be determined solely by her untimely suit. As Lee said, you can't sandbag these kind of challenges by waiting till after Gosch wins his primary. Had this been timely brought, either Gosch would have redone his petitions, or he would have been stricken from the ballot and Jeannette Duerloo would have taken his place as the Republican nominee. Strong waited until after the primary when Deurloo was knocked out - thereby depriving her of her place on the ballot if Strong's position on Gosch's petition is correct. Then Strong waited even beyond the candidate replacement deadline in August meaning Gosch's position could not be filled by the party if Strong is correct about his petitions. This case exemplifies the reason for deadlines on challenges. Strong cannot by delay deprive either party of fielding a candidate thereby depriving voters of a choice. The case will turn on untimeliness, and it will be summarily dismissed next week.

  3. mike 2012.09.21

    But that still leaves the question of what to do with Gant and his screw ups.

    It's like we have stephanie strong in the SOS office or something!

  4. Stan Adelstein 2012.09.21

    You hit the nail Mike, what can do?? The seeming problem with trying impeachment is that merely being ignorant, as well as dishonest (even if you try to lower the common denominator in the office by hiring an even more duplicitous assistant), having an IQ of 62 supported by an attention span of 14 seconds - is not malfeasance.

    If you couple that with both the lack of shame, and inability to earn a living elsewhere you eliminate resignation.

    Stan Adelstein

  5. Justin 2012.09.21

    Always nice to see you post here Senator Adelstein.

    I was confused though, were you talking about Gant or Jackley? ;)

  6. Bryce Rausch 2012.09.24

    Is it too soon to update my LinkedIn and business cards with "Legal Aficionado"?

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.09.24

    Bryce, jump that gun! Just be sure to include a link on your profile to the accrediting organization. ;-)

    R, I wish this suit would smoke out some bandits, but you restate your very good point (I apologize for not acknowledging it earlier) about the need to protect candidates from such legal sandbagging. Smart money says Strong is being used as a puppet by the Howie machine... though machine seems too strong a word. Let's call it the Howie jalopy. That jalopy barely has the wherewithal to wage one fight of this sort. It could have sprung to action and waged it in June, when the blogosphere lit this story up. Instead they cranked and tinkered until this late date.

    I understand R's concern that, if we let this jalopy clatter across the ballot, the SDGOP could fire up its hot rod and create legal complications for all of its enemies on the ballot.

    ...say, that gets me wondering: is the full-scale attack on the robocalls really about smoking out the parties responsible, tying them to Stace Nelson, and finding legal cause to throw him out of the Legislature?

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