Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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Ronald Johnson, a South Dakota State Penitentiary correctional officer, was murdered by two inmates during an escape attempt. Lynette Johnson, individually and on behalf of Ronald’s Estate (collectively, Johnson) sued the Department of Corrections (DOC) and a number of its employees in state court, alleging, among other claims, a violation of substantive due process rights under the state and federal constitutions pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. DOC removed the case to federal court. The federal court granted summary judgment to DOC on the grounds of qualified immunity and remanded the remaining claims back to state court. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. After the case returned to state court, the circuit court granted DOC’s motion for summary judgment on Johnson’s remaining claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court properly dismissed Johnson’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim; (2) no genuine issues of material fact existed as to Johnson’s fraudulent misrepresentation claim; and (3) the circuit court correctly determined that res judicata barred any constitutional due process claim arising under the South Dakota Constitution. View "Estate of Johnson v. Weber" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of possessing cocaine and sentenced to imprisonment for five years, fully suspended on conditions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when the trial court refused to grant Defendant’s motion to suppress and permitted an officer to testify that Defendant refused to provide a urine sample after her arrest; (2) the circuit court did not err by refusing to permit Defendant to offer evidence that the State did not obtain a warrant for a urine sample, and an officer’s testimony regarding Defendant’s statements was not inadmissible hearsay; and (3) the prosecutor did not commit misconduct during the State’s closing argument. View "State v. Stanley" on Justia Law

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Appellant appealed his conviction of five counts of possessing child pornography. Appellant argued (1) there was insufficient evidence to prove that he knowingly possessed child pornography; (2) S.D. Codified Laws 22-24A-3, the statute defining possession of child pornography, is unconstitutionally vague; and (3) he was convicted multiple times for a single act or course of conduct in violation of double jeopardy protections. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that Appellant knowingly possessed the five images of child pornography for which he was charged; (2) there was no plain error for the court to notice with regard to the constitutionality of section 22-24A-3; and (3) there was no plain error for the court to notice with regard to double jeopardy. View "State v. Linson" on Justia Law

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A law enforcement officer need not have independent authority to make an arrest under S.D. Codified Laws 23A-3-2 before taking a person placed under a citizen’s arrest into custody and performing a search incident to that arrest. Defendant in this case was validly placed under citizen’s arrest for theft by an asset protection associate at Walmart. The associate contacted law enforcement, who took Defendant into custody and searched her purse. Law enforcement found a pipe with methamphetamine residue. The circuit court granted Defendant's motion to suppress all evidence obtained from the search. The Supreme Court reversed based on South Dakota’s statutes concerning a citizen’s arrest and court precedent, holding that Defendant was validly placed under citizen’s arrest, and the responding law enforcement officer who took her into custody properly performed a search incident to that arrest. View "State v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his convictions, entered after a jury trial, of three counts of first-degree rape and one count of sexual contact with a child under sixteen years of age. The child was Defendant’s four-year-old daughter, who had autism. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion by finding the child, who was six years old at the time of trial, competent to testify despite her young age and developmental delays; (2) did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to have the child declared unavailable as a witness for the purposes of cross-examination because of her lack of memory; (3) did not err by denying Defendant’s pretrial motion to suppress his statements to law enforcement; and (4) did not abuse its discretion by giving Instruction 11 to the jury. View "State v. Spaniol" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping. Defendant received concurrent, mandatory life sentences for the convictions. Defendant was fourteen years old when he committed the offenses. After the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Miller v. Alabama, Defendant filed a motion in circuit court to correct an illegal sentence. The circuit court granted the motion. Following a resentencing hearing, the sentencing court resentenced Defendant to concurrent, 200-year sentences for first-degree murder and kidnapping. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant failed to establish that his sentence is cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and (2) the sentencing court did not abuse its discretion when it imposed concurrent, 200-year sentences. View "State v. Jensen" on Justia Law

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After a court trial, Defendant was found guilty of driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol content. Defendant also pleaded guilty to a part II information alleging that this was his second driving under the influence offense. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress statements that he made to law enforcement that he had been drinking and driving, asserting that the statements were made in violation of his Miranda rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the totality of the circumstances surrounding the encounter between Defendant and the law enforcement officer did not amount to a custodial interrogation, and therefore, the circuit court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress any incriminating statements made during the encounter. View "State v. Hopkins" on Justia Law

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Twin brothers Ryan Alan Krause and Brian Michael Krause pleaded guilty to separate complaints alleging grand theft and four counts of unlawfully using a computer. The circuit court sentenced each of the Krauses to four years imprisonment for grand theft and two years imprisonment for each count of unlawfully using a computer system, and ordered all sentences to run consecutively. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Krauses’ consecutive sentences for unlawfully using a computer system do not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment; and (2) the circuit court did not err by imposing sentences of imprisonment instead of probation for the unlawful-use-of-computer-system convictions. View "State v. Krause" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of driving under the influence. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence resulting from a traffic stop, including the results of a blood test, arguing that the arresting officer lacked reasonable suspicion to conclude that Defendant had committed a crime in order to justify the traffic stop. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress because the arresting officer did not have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and any evidence resulting from the stop was the product of an illegal search. View "State v. Stanage" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and received a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Defendant was fourteen years old when he committed the offense. After the United States Supreme Court issued Miller v. Alabama, which barred mandatory life sentences against juvenile homicide offenders, Defendant filed a motion to have his sentence correct. After a hearing, the sentencing court resentenced Defendant to ninety-two years in prison. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a ninety-two-year sentence is not categorically unconstitutional for a fourteen-year-old child; (2) because Defendant had the opportunity for release at age sixty, his sentence was not the legal equivalent of a life sentence without parole; (3) the sentencing court properly considered the mitigating qualities of youth set forth in Miller; (4) Defendant’s sentence was not grossly disproportionate to the gravity of the offense; and (5) the sentencing court did not commit prejudicial error when it permitted an oral victim-impact statement by an individual outside the statutory definition of a victim. View "State v. Charles" on Justia Law