Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction and sentence for possessing a controlled substance (methamphetamine), holding that the circuit court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from an illegal search and seizure. On appeal, Defendant argued that the search of his person violated the United States Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. The State did not obtain a warrant to search Defendant but argued that the search was valid as an investigatory stop under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) because the State failed to identify a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, Defendant’s search and seizure could not be justified under Terry; and (2) the consent exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement did not apply in this case. View "State v. Kaline" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence on the grounds that the police officer lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate an investigatory traffic stop and that the search warrant for a blood sample was invalid under South Dakota law. Defendant appealed from an order entering a suspended imposition of sentence after he was found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, holding (1) the circuit court’s finding that the officer observed the vehicle cross the center line provide the officer reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop; and (2) the warrant obtained for Defendant’s blood draw did not violate the Warrants Clause of the South Dakota Constitution. View "State v. Bowers" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court denying Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated assault. In his habeas petition, Appellant argued that the circuit court committed errors during the jury selection process that warranted a new trial and that his counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. The habeas court concluded (1) the circuit court committed errors during the jury selection process, but the errors were not structural and Appellant did not prove prejudice; and (2) Appellant failed to prove that counsel was ineffective during the jury selection process. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court’s errors during the jury selection process were not structural and were harmless; and (2) Appellant failed to show that he receive ineffective assistance of counsel. View "Miller v. Young" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence found in the vehicle Defendant was driving, holding that, contrary to the circuit court’s finding, Defendant’s traffic stop was not unlawfully extended. Defendant was indicted on four felony drug charges after controlled substances were found in the vehicle she was driving. The circuit court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress, determining that the officer that stopped the vehicle unlawfully prolonged the traffic stop to question Defendant, conduct standard field sobriety tests, and call for a drug dog without reasonable suspicion of drug activity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the officer’s decision to extend the initial traffic stop to question Defendant about drug activity and to conduct the drug dog sniff was supported by reasonable suspicion, and therefore, the traffic stop was not unlawfully extended. View "State v. Barry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence found in the vehicle Defendant was driving, holding that, contrary to the circuit court’s finding, Defendant’s traffic stop was not unlawfully extended. Defendant was indicted on four felony drug charges after controlled substances were found in the vehicle she was driving. The circuit court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress, determining that the officer that stopped the vehicle unlawfully prolonged the traffic stop to question Defendant, conduct standard field sobriety tests, and call for a drug dog without reasonable suspicion of drug activity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the officer’s decision to extend the initial traffic stop to question Defendant about drug activity and to conduct the drug dog sniff was supported by reasonable suspicion, and therefore, the traffic stop was not unlawfully extended. View "State v. Barry" on Justia Law

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Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement may not require an arrestee to urinate into a specimen container as a search incident to a lawful arrest without a valid warrant. Defendant was convicted and sentenced for unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence produced through chemical analysis of a urine sample that law enforcement obtained without first obtaining Defendant’s consent or a warrant. After considering an arrestee’s legitimate expectation of privacy and the government’s competing interest in preserving evidence, the Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) law enforcement may not, without a warrant, require an arrestee to provide a urine sample as a search incident to arrest; and (2) therefore, the search in this case was unconstitutional, and the circuit court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress. View "State v. Lar" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of first-degree murder and sentencing him to life imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court (1) violated his Sixth Amendment right of cross-examination by refusing to admit evidence that Defendant passed a polygraph examination for the purpose of impeaching another witness’s testimony; and (2) improperly admitted character evidence used against him. The Supreme Court held (1) South Dakota’s per se rule against admitting polygraph-test results does not violate the Sixth Amendment, and the circuit court did not abuse its discretion by excluding Defendant’s polygraph evidence; and (2) the circuit court did not err by admitting evidence of Defendant’s sexual liaisons with three other women in the days leading up to the victim’s death. View "State v. Bertram" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court, rendered after a jury trial, convicting Defendant of aggravated assault (domestic) and simple assault (domestic). On appeal, Defendant challenged the circuit court’s admission of evidence of alleged instances of prior domestic abuse and claimed that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in admitting the other acts evidence; and (2) counsel was not so ineffective that it deprived Defendant of his constitutional rights to counsel and a fair trial. View "State v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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Sally Richardson alleged that her husband Michael forced her to work as a prostitute during the course of their marriage. Sally also alleged that Michael emotionally, physically, and sexually abused her, causing both humiliation and serious health problems. Sally divorced Michael on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, reserving by stipulation the right to bring other nonproperty causes of action against him. Following the divorce, Sally brought suit against Michael, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). The court, bound by South Dakota Supreme Court precedent in Pickering v. Pickering, 434 N.W.2d 758, (S.D. 1989), dismissed Sally’s suit for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Pickering held IIED was unavailable as a matter of public policy when it was predicated on conduct leading to the dissolution of marriage. Finding that Pickering was “ripe for reexamination for a number of reasons,” the South Dakota Supreme Court overruled Pickering, and reversed and remanded dismissal of Sally’s suit. View "Richardson v. Richardson" on Justia Law

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In 2016, Berton Toavs shot and killed his girlfriend Eliza Edgins and his friend Nathan Gann at Toavs’s home in Faith, South Dakota. Toavs and Edgins were in an off-and-on romantic relationship for some time, and Gann had been staying at Toavs’s home for approximately six weeks prior to the incident. During the time Gann had been staying with Toavs, a romantic relationship developed between Edgins and Gann. Gann and Edgins apparently planned to leave South Dakota and continue their relationship. After hearing this news, Toavs left the house, returning the following morning. Toavs and Edgins argued, ending with Toavs going to his bedroom, grabbing his .45 caliber Colt revolver, and shooting Edgins multiple times. He then shot Gann, who had been sleeping on the living room floor. Both Edgins and Gann died from the gunshot wounds. Toavs appeals his sentences issued on two counts of first-degree manslaughter, arguing the sentencing court abused its discretion in ordering him to serve two consecutive sentences of 110 and 100 years. According to Toavs, the sentencing court did not adequately consider whether Toavs was capable of rehabilitation prior to imposing the sentences. Finding no reversible error, the South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed Toavs’s sentences. View "South Dakota v. Toavs" on Justia Law