State v. Bertram, 2018 S.D. 4.  Bertram was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment for life in connection with the shooting death of his fiancée.  Bertram, appeals, arguing that the circuit court violated his Sixth Amendment right of cross-examination by refusing to admit evidence that he passed a polygraph examination for the purpose of impeaching another witness’s testimony.  He also argued that the circuit court improperly admitted character evidence used against him.  On appeal, the Court, per Chief Justice Gilbertson, affirmed, holding that South Dakota’s per se rule against admitting polygraph test results did not violate the Sixth Amendment, and that the circuit court also did not abuse its discretion either by excluding Bertram’s polygraph evidence or by admitting the State’s evidence of Bertram’s liaisons with other women in the days leading up to his fiancee’s death.  Even so, the Court held, Bertram had not established prejudice on either issue.
Continue Reading January 11, 2018, Case Summaries