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Judge Expunges Taliaferro Arrest; State DSS Failed to Comply with Court Order

On Wednesday I discussed how the Brandon Taliaferro case exposes the ugly politics in South Dakota's foster care system. Now, a postscript from the judge.

A year ago, Judge Gene Paul Kean dismissed the state's case against Taliaferro, saying the state had failed to present a prima facie case requiring any response from the defense. Since then, Taliaferro, a lawyer and former Brown County assistant state's attorney, has been fighting to have the needless and baseless arrest expunged from his record. On December 20, Judge Kean granted Taliaferro's motion for expungement on the five counts on which he was acquitted.

There is much to discuss in this order; this morning, I excerpt Judge Kean's explication of how the Department of Social Services unfairly stalled in complying with Taliaferro's discovery request as he prepared to defend himself against the state's wrongful charges:

Judge Gene Paul Kean, "In the Matter of the Expungement of the Record Concerning Brandon Taliaferro CIV 13-346 (Brown County)," Dec. 20, 2013, p. 3

Judge Gene Paul Kean, "In the Matter of the Expungement of the Record Concerning Brandon Taliaferro CIV 13-346 (Brown County)," Dec. 20, 2013, p. 4
Judge Gene Paul Kean, "In the Matter of the Expungement of the Record Concerning Brandon Taliaferro CIV 13-346 (Brown County)," Dec. 20, 2013, pp. 3-4

The court granted a motion for discovery. The judicial branch told the executive branch of the state of South Dakota to turn over documents to aid a citizen in his proper defense. The executive branch declined and dawdled and only complied at the last minute. Even when it did comply, the state imposed conditions beyond anything the court allowed in its order. In doing so, the state sought to deny a citizen his constitutional rights at trial.

Officers of the executive branch who feel they do not need to yield to the orders of the judicial branch threaten the balance of power and the constitutional rights of all citizens. That's what's at stake in rooting out the corruption that riddles South Dakota government.


  1. mike from iowa 2014.01.17

    Thanks for the update. Unfortunately,the actions of the executive branch are not surprising or all that rare in America,as a whole.

  2. Jaka 2014.01.17

    I sorely regret not seeing ANY evidence of this case and the abuse by the state's attorneys in other media....... Thanks Cory, for the exposure of it. Perhaps I've been under a rock somewhere, but I never read anything about this elsewhere. Looks like one he-- of a lawsuit to be happening. A "60 Minutes" segment if I ever saw one.

  3. Sid 2014.01.17

    It is important to understand this by knowing who was really scared and who the players really are. It is estimated that South Dakota gets about 100 million in funding from the Feds for social services. One of the biggest money makers is foster care. It is also one which is rarely looked at by the Feds to see if the services are being properly provided. The "raw material" this industry consumes is children. To maintain a high supply, the Indian Children are the best target since the powers that be do not fear the Indian voters. One of the largest players in this industry (and it is a money making industry) is Lutheran Social Services. They also assist refugees in relocating to the US. Lutheran Social Services has supplied, er, placed refugees in Huron where they have been employed by the Turkey Plant.
    Jeff Sveen is the Chairman of the Turkey Plant. His law partner, Reed Rasmussen, is on the board of Lutheran Social Services. They needed the Mette case kids to be discredited or face the possibility of a massive Federal Investigation into what is really happening in the South Dakota Foster Industry, which might have spilled over into other areas, such as refugee relocation. By discrediting the kids, they made it seem that there was no problem to be investigated.

  4. Les 2014.01.17

    Is not only the vote not feared on taking Indian Children, these children provide higher profits to the foster care through those Fed dollars.
    This would be an angle of the white privilege Roger speaks of, privileged whites making money off the backs of our Indian families while breaking them up with no regard for their rights often times.

  5. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.01.17

    Thanks Cory for this update to your post from the other day. I was a little confused when I read it. This certainly helps clarify and actually looks like more of the same ole, same ole from the executive branch. We will sit on stuff no matter the law and we will make sure that the legislature does not pass anything that will thwart our ability to do so. Want to do something about it, you will have to take it to SCOTUS. I was also pleased that the clarification helped me understand that Gene Paul Kean was not the bad guy that I thought he was, when I read the first post. He was couple of years behind me in school and I have always admired him greatly.

    And thank you Sid for your enlightenment. As I posted the other day, when there was an article on the fact that South Dakota population was increasing faster than surrounding states and that of the US, HOW MANY ILLEGALS as well as legal immigrants have come to SD and as you point out through the efforts of LSS. I regularly ride the bus here in SF and there are a lot of Bhutanese immigrants going to the LSS school off West 12th St. So far there are a lot of them not working but I am sure they are getting many benefits from the City, County, State and Feds that were set up for the poor of this country. I also have no doubt that some of our own folks fall through the cracks because of the assistance these folks receive.

    My point being no one should be bragging about the increase in our population, when our own children have to leave the State for greener pastures and when the increase can be accounted for, through legal and illegal immigration.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.17

    Lanny, we should have no problem with South Dakota offering refuge to folks from bad places overseas. Helping refugees find a new home is a noble use of our wealth. I don't think assistance directed to immigrants from overseas causes citizens to lose assistance in any way... unless you are suggesting that budget pressures from serving refugee populations somehow hurt the big picture... but such budget pressures would affect all recipients, immigrant and native alike, wouldn't they?

    As for illegals, do they show up in population counts?

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.17

    Sid... oh my. Are we seriously going to find a connection between this case and the EB-5 scandal? Are we all blind men feeling the same elephant?

  8. Sid 2014.01.17

    The only connection is that the same actors keep turning up in all these corruptions. There is no likely relationship between the EB-5 securities frauds and this case. However, the problem is that whenever certain persons' interests are potentially threatened in South Dakota, even by small children who are abuse victims, they are able to compel/persuade those in charge of the various government departments (whether the AG, some judges, the Governor, or even a local State's attorney) to steer the investigations away from their territory so as to keep their fiefdoms.

  9. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2014.01.17

    Sid, how are you managing to drag Lutheran Social Services into this? LSS played no role whatsoever. LSS Immigration and Refugee Services is not a moneymaker. I see the annual financial report and I have access to any records I want to investigate.

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Lutheran Church/Missouri Synod (LCMS), Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), in addition to smaller Lutheran denominations all work together in Lutheran Social Services. That includes Luther Disaster Response (LDR), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS), Lutherans Outdoors, adoption, financial, and others whose acronyms escape me.

    No. Parts. Of. LSS. Make. Money.


    I've seen the financials. I've read the spreadsheets. I've helped write the budgets. I'm right about this. The ELCA, the biggest and dominant Lutheran denomination, does not have any cash cows. That's why we contribute to LSS. LSS, like nearly every church, has been struggling with diminishing income.

    I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor in the ELCA. And Sid, you are so far off on your claims regarding LSS. You may be aware of an isolated experience, but you are seriously in error to generalize that to the entire organization.

    Just an additional fact: When there is a disaster, like Katrina in New Orleans or Sandy in NY/NJ, LSS, via LDR, gets there as quickly as the Red Cross, and stays for months or even years.

    LIRS does not entice immigrants to America, but helps the new arrivals to have a decent life. LIRS does actively bring +refugees+ here. It's a biblical thing that Jesus said.

    Note the difference between Immigrants and Refugees.

    *It gets my dander up when such a fine organization is unjustly maligned. Such defamation can cost hundreds of dollars in donations lost. The result is an increase in suffering. I don't take that casually.

  10. Roger Cornelius 2014.01.17

    Good for you, really. That was a great response.

    The Republican response to immigration, illegal aliens, refuges, etc. is just so un-Christian. They obviously can't think a few generations back when their fathers, mothers, and grandparents were in the same situation.

    They use the phrase "invade our country" as totally inclusive, when is it is "all our country". The Christian and humane approach should be gratitude, gratitude that their fellow man is hopefully doing better in this country.

  11. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2014.01.17

    You are right Roger. America has an all-inclusive history of resentment of and resistance to the latest immigrants, regardless of how they got here. It's so weird to me when people completely refuse to learn from history. "Yeah but - this is different this time."

    A psychologist

  12. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2014.01.17

    Damn! I wasn't done.

    A friend who is a psychologist came up with the best phrase to describe that 'specialness' self-regard:

    Terminal Uniqueness.

    It's perfect. It's a very short summarization of the attitude that what's true for the overwhelming percentage of humanity is simply not true for that one because he is 'special'; ie., unique among the human race, and he'll maintain that falsehood even if it kills him!

  13. mike from iowa 2014.01.18

    Isn't failure to comply with a court order a crime on par with contempt of court? Shouldn't some of these moldy coyote wingnuts be behind bars for thirty days to contemplate the error of their arrogant ways?

  14. Sid 2014.01.18

    Deb- I was not maligning any organization. However, I was pointing out that LSS has ongoing relationships with people who keep popping up as beneficiaries of South Dakota Government antics. And, the foster care area is not a money-losing area. There are too many "professional" foster families out there for it to be a money loser. While I have no doubt that LSS, like most charitable organizations who furnish a broad range of services, are dependent upon donations to keep the doors open. However, I would be surprised if there is not a revenue stream of money created by foster family services. As far as refugee relocation services, I do not know whether there is a revenue stream associated with such services. However, I do know that the Turkey Plant is somewhat intertwined with the refugee relocation services in Huron. The reason I know this is because of publicity such this article written by LSS:

  15. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.01.18

    Cory, Deb and anyone else, whom I may have offended re: my comments about immigrants and even illegal immigrants. My Grandparents on my Dad's side and Great, great Grandparents on my Mom's side were also immigrants to this country. I just struggle with the fact that we live in a state that has a median income higher than that of the national average, and yet keep bringing in folks to compete for the low wage jobs that we have in the State and it is not just packing plants and dairy farms. Go to your favorite Super Market or Kohls, Target or Walmart and ask the employees, if they are full time or part time. If I offended, please forgive.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.01.18

    No mortal offense taken, Lanny. I just want to make sure we're connecting the important dots and not making false connections. South Dakota does have a problem with its reliance on low-wage jobs and its unwillingness to pay a living wage. But offering refugees and other legal immigrants a safe, clean place to live and work is not part of that problem. Our desire to help refugees should motivate us even more to raise our wages and make it easier for everyone to make decent wages at decent jobs.

  17. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2014.01.18

    Sid, the Foster Families do get money for foster care. LSS, as an agency engaged in providing foster care for children in need, does not make money for providing that service. There is an income that barely covers costs. Hence the need for donations.

    Sid, you said, "I would be surprised if there is not a revenue stream of money created by foster family services." All right, prepare yourself to be surprised. As I told you, I have seen the books with my very own eyes. I have worked on the LSS budgets for foster care in the room with others similarly tasked.

    Read my lips: There is NO INCOME/PROFIT STREAM to LSS resulting from foster care services. It pays no bills other than most of the requisite operations. Questions?

    I wish you would stop with that false assertion.

  18. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2014.01.18

    Regarding LSS and the turkey plant. LIRS works diligently to find homes, education and work for immigrants and refugees. Huron had jobs and available housing. Of course they sent people there. I hope LIRS did work with the state officials/crooks who were building the plant, to claim jobs for people in need. That is an example of great placement work. What it is not, is an indication of criminal collusion.

    Do you think you can drop this baseless claim too?

    I wish LSS really did have the power you seem to think it has. But it can't create businesses, jobs, economic policy, etc. It would be marvelous if we could!

  19. Jerry 2014.01.20

    You have found the republican playbook, Cory. Here is an article from a man much like this one who was attacked by the state government as part of a power play. In the end, it cost the man legal fees to prove himself "innocent" and the perpetrators get to laugh their asses off.

    This case is in New Jersey, but it sure smells like South Dakota. I keep saying, republicans cannot govern, they can only corrupt.

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