Press "Enter" to skip to content

AAN: Jackley Sets Bad Precedent Letting Private Citizen Keep Benda Records Secret

Last updated on 2014.01.29

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.


  1. Jim 2014.01.09

    What timing, as Mike was in Aberdeen today having a swell lunch with Dusty and friends. I don't think they offered SD Certified Beef on the lunch menu, but hopefully they were able to get a copy of the AAN before they flew back to Pierre.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.09

    Really? Where'd they eat? And from whom were they raising money?

  3. interested party 2014.01.09

    It would be fascinating to know which news outlets are getting the Janklow treatment from Jim Seward.

  4. interested party 2014.01.09

    seward and marty are both short guys, right?

  5. Jim 2014.01.09

    Believe they had a lunch at mavericks. Dusty was to speak, and mike was guest.

  6. Joan Brown 2014.01.09

    My opinion is being teenagers, have a tendency to think they are so mature, Benda's daughter should be able to hand this, especially if she has supportive adults in her life.

  7. Steve Bulle 2014.01.09

    Cory, as I'm sure you know, Jackley was appointed in 2009 and elected in 2010. At the risk of suffering the same fate as Richard Benda (a man I knew), I have to ask the question: Is there a process in place that would allow Jackley to be recalled and replaced with someone who is fit to serve?

    Whenever I met with Richard Benda, the one thing that always stood out was that he loved his daughter, Claire, immensely. Stories of her and the times he spent with her were always a big part of our conversations. She, as well as all South Dakotans, deserves to know the truth.

    (Larry, my comment has nothing to do with Marty's physical height...much more to do with his moral and intellectual height)

  8. Steve Bulle 2014.01.09

    By the way, I sure hope there will be a qualified candidate on the ballot for the position of Attorney General in the 2014 elections, and that the voters of South Dakota send a loud and clear message at the ballot box!

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.09

    I would love to hear what Rounds has to say to an Aberdeen crowd, given how the failure of his economic promises have left Aberdeen high and dry. Actually, given that Rounds likely didn't say anything of substance, I'd have loved to watch the crowd, study the faces... and see if Joop Bollen was in the room.

    Steve, unfortunately, South Dakota law provides only for the recall of municipal officials. We have no statewide recall process. We've just got to find a candidate and vote Jackley out in November. Suggestions?

  10. Steve Bulle 2014.01.09

    Cory, how about, uh, Bart Simpson? (Sorry, just being facetious...although even he might be an improvement). But your response rung a bell - how about you introduce Madville Times Bill 106 (if that one isn't taken already) to provide for a statewide recall process to remove and replace corrupt and/or incompetent state officials?

  11. mike from iowa 2014.01.09

    First of all you need to poll SD conservatives and find out if they have a threshold where sleaze and corruption will not be tolerated anymore. Other rethug led states are as bad or worse than SD and they don't seem to mind the slime as long as the other party doesn't get elected. Then comes the but,but,but Obama's from Chicago and dead people vote there,backlash. Accusing Dems of being Gay doesn't produce the desired results for christian conservatives anymore. Maybe you could get Jackley to resign and have Ed Meese and his Raygun era Meesketeers appointed A.G.

  12. chris 2014.01.09

    If any of these guys wanted to show respect for Benda's family, why did they not just attend the funeral?

  13. interested party 2014.01.09

    Being a good lawyer hardly makes one a good man: either Marty will show his hand or he'll throw it into the muck.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.09

    Statewide recall: now that's a thought! Maybe someone can hoghouse MTB 105... ;-)

  15. Taunia 2014.01.10

    When do the feds step in?

  16. interested party 2014.01.10

    Patience, Taunia: timing is key to tipping the dominoes. Expect them all to be set up before the June primary.

  17. Taunia 2014.01.10

    Ahh. Of course. I was thinking in terms of overall justice, not just politics.

    And there is today's primer.

  18. Rick 2014.01.10

    Now David Montgomery is reprinting Marty Jackley's statement that he will release part of the record on Mr. Benda's suspicious death. That's an interesting twist for a "prosecutor" who cited phony legal precedent to prohibit any transparency to public records on a deceased public figure. Now he'll reveal what appears to be a heavily edited version of the public record. Geez, what's legal basis for a partial reveal?

    So now we have what appears to be a legal strip tease, showing only those public records that won't reveal more than the stripper wishes to reveal. Is the Hop Scotch hiring?

  19. Douglas Wiken 2014.01.10

    So are we to believe that the next big press dog and pony show by Jackley involving some criminal arrested, etc. etc. will not have any information presented because the criminal's family doesn't want it released?

Comments are closed.