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:
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.