State v. Gaters, 2017 SD 60. Officers arrested defendant after they executed a search warrant at his friend’s home. During the search, the officers found marijuana in the defendant’s van parked outside the home. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence, asserting that the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The circuit court found that the defendant did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy in his friend’s home and could not challenge the search. The court alternatively ruled that the search did not violate the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. Defendant appealed, and, per Justice Wilbur, the Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the defendant had not met his burden that he had a subjective expectation of privacy in his friend’s home that society would recognize as reasonable.
State v. Jones, 2017 SD 59. Without a warrant, law enforcement installed a pole camera on a public street light to record the defendant’s activities outside of his home, beginning the same day the officers received a tip that a known drug dealer had been traveling to defendant’s home to obtain drugs. The camera recorded defendant’s activities outside his home for two months, and the officers used the information gained from the camera to obtain a search warrant for the defendant’s home. The officers executed the warrant and arrested the defendant. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence, asserting that the officers’ use of the pole camera without a warrant violated the Fourth Amendment. The circuit court denied the motion. On appeal, again per Justice Wilbur, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part. First, the Court found it troubling that the detective did not independently acquire suspicion of criminal activity and held that the installation of the camera constituted a search, and that a warrant was required. However, the Court also found that the detective had acted reasonably, and that the circuit court therefore did not err when it denied the motion to suppress based on the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. Chief Justice Gilbertson and Justice Zinter dissented, taking issue with the Court’s holding that the Constitution requires law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before conducting “long-term surveillance” of the front of a residence from a public vantage point.
State v. Kihega, 2017 SD 58. The defendant appealed his convictions of first-degree robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He contended that the State’s evidence was insufficient to corroborate accomplice testimony. He also challenged a number of the circuit court’s evidentiary rulings and its sentence. Per Justice Zinter, the Court affirmed in all respects. As to the corroboration issue, the Court found that the victims’ testimony, the ballistics evidence, and the confirmation of the three men’s escape and disposition of robbery proceeds, and the defendant’s own words “tended to connect” him to the robbery. The Court noted that the “corroboration rule is not a codification of some new super burden of proof that is to be mechanically applied in cases involving accomplices.” The Court also affirmed the circuit court’s admission of 24 audiotapes of conversations between the defendant and his wife, rebuttal testimony regarding a phone call the defendant made to his wife, and testimony disclosing out-of-court witness statements regarding the defendant’s various residences.
Argus Leader v. Hogstad, 2017 SD 57, The City of Sioux Falls entered into a confidential settlement agreement with several contractors that built the Denny Sanford Premier Center. The settlement agreement’s confidentiality clause providing that, with the exception of the settlement amount, the details of the contract would remain confidential. A reporter for the Argus Leader sought a copy of the agreement, and the City denied the request. The Argus Leader asked the City to reconsider its position, but the City refused to provide a copy of the agreement. After the denial, the Argus Leader commenced this action, alleging that the agreement is a public record and seeking an order compelling the City to provide a copy. The circuit court determined that the settlement agreement was not open to public inspection under SDCL ch. 1-27. The Argus Leader appealed, and the Supreme Court, per Justice Severson, reversed. The Court held that the settlement agreement did not meet the requirements of SDCL 1-27-1.5(20), which provides that “any document declared closed or confidential by court order, contract, or stipulation of the parties to any civil or criminal action or proceeding” is not subject to disclosure. Therefore, the agreement was a public record open to inspection, and the City must make it available in accordance with SDCL ch. 1-27. Justice Zinter dissented, concluding that the Legislature specifically authorized government entities to enter into confidential settlement contracts without having to start a lawsuit.