State v. Draskovich, 2017 SD 76. Draskovich was convicted of threatening a judicial officer and disorderly conduct as a result of statements he made in the Minnehaha County Courthouse. The circuit court ruled that the statements were “true threats,” rather than First Amendment-protected speech. He had told the clerk of courts that he could “see why people shoot up courthouses,” and, when discussing a judge’s refusal to grant him a work permit, he commented to Court Administration, “Well, that deserves 180 pounds of lead between the eyes.” On appeal, the Court, per Justice Zinter, affirmed, concluding that a reasonable recipient would view his statements as “a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence” against court staff and the circuit court judge.
State v. Hemminger, 2017 SD 77. Hemminger was found guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend by stabbing her twenty-three times. He was sentenced to mandatory life in prison. On appeal, he challenged the circuit court’s evidentiary rulings that he consented to the seizure of property from the hospital, and that the revocation of that consent did not require the return of his property. He also challenged the seizure of his bloody clothing from his friend’s house, claimed that the circuit court abused its discretion when it admitted twenty-six autopsy photos during the trial, and when it denied his motion for new trial. He finally challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction and argued that the cumulative errors deprived him of his constitutional right to a fair trial. On appeal, the Court, per Retired Justice Wilbur, affirmed his conviction.
Long v. South Dakota, 2017 SD 78. After Landowners prevailed against the State on a claim of inverse condemnation, the Landowners requested that the State pay reasonable attorney, appraisal, and engineering fees, and other related costs” under SDCL 5-2-18 and the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, which is codified at 42 U.S.C. 4601-4655 (2012). The circuit court denied their request, and the Landowners appealed. On appeal, per Justice Kern, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of their request, concluding that they were not authorized by SDCL 5-2-18’s plain language, and that, while SDCL 5-2-18 incorporates by reference the provisions of the URA, its application is permissive rather than mandatory. And, even if mandatory, it does not create a private cause of action in state courts for payment of litigation expenses in inverse condemnation cases unless mandated by state statute or implementing regulations.
Long v. South Dakota, 2017 SD 79. This case was argued during the January 2016 term. Landowners filed an inverse condemnation action against the State and the City of Sioux Falls, seeking damages and a permanent injunction due to flooding on Landowners’ properties. The circuit court bifurcated the question whether a constitutional damaging of property had occurred from the question of damages. Before the court trial on liability, Landowners and the City settled. The court granted the State’s request to file a cross-claim against the City seeking indemnification and contribution. At the conclusion of the court trial, the court issued a judgment for Landowners. The court dismissed the cross-claim, finding that the State failed to prove that the City was liable. That question was presented to a jury, and, after a four-day trial, the jury found the flood permanently damaged Landowners’ properties and awarded individual damages to each of the Landowners. The State appealed, and the Court, per Justice Kern, affirmed, concluding: Landowners had a right to sue for just compensation under the theory of inverse condemnation under the state constitutional; circuit court’s findings that the Landowners’ damages were caused by the State’s construction of Highway 11, that the damages were foreseeable, and that the State’s design provided insufficient passageway for drainage to the natural watercourses were not clearly erroneous; the State was not entitled to contribution from the City; the Landowners were fully compensated for the diminution in value of their property caused by the flood and the properties’ susceptibility to recurrent flooding; and that res judicata bars any future claims for damages caused by flooding. Justice Severson concurred. Justice Zinter concurred specially. Justices Barnett (sitting for Retired Justice Wilbur) and Chief Justice Gilbertson dissented. Justice Jensen did not participate.
Beals v. Autotrac, Inc., 2017 SD 80. Beals, who was elderly and suffering from memory loss, met with Parsons, AutoTrac’s founder, to discuss the possibility of Beals investing in AutoTrac, and, at some point following the meeting, Beals began paying substantial amounts of money to AutoTrac. After Beals’ sons learned of his relationship with AutoTrac, they filed a complaint against the company, primarily alleging that Beals had been deceived into giving money to AutoTrac. AutoTrac filed a motion for summary judgment, and the circuit court granted the motion. On appeal, per Chief Justice Gilbertson, the Court affirmed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment on Beals’s tort claims of fraud and deceit but reversed the grant of summary judgment on his undue influence claim.