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.

Continue Reading November 22, 2017, Case Summaries

In re Guardianship of Novotny, 2017 S.D. 74. The sole beneficiary of an irrevocable trust petitioned the circuit court to terminate the trust and distribute the trust property to her.  After a hearing on the beneficiary’s motion for summary judgment, the circuit court refused to terminate the trust and entered summary judgment in favor of the trustees.  The beneficiary appealed, the Court, per Justice Wilbur, reversed and remanded, concluding that the trust purpose had been fulfilled, and that termination of the trust would “substantially further the trustor’s purposes in creating the trust.”  The circuit court was therefore directed on remand to terminate the trust and distribute the trust property, which was “in accordance with the trustors’ probable intention.”

Erickson v. Dep’t of Public Safety, 2017 S.D. 75.  Erickson, who holds a commercial driver’s license, pleaded guilty to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more (SDCL 32-23-1(1)) – as opposed to driving under the influence of alcohol (SDCL 32-23-1(1)).  The South Dakota Department of Public Safety subsequently disqualified him from operating commercial motor vehicles for one year.  Erickson appealed the Department’s decision to circuit court, which reversed the Department’s decision without remanding.  The Department appealed, and the Court, per Chief Justice Gilbertson, reversed the circuit court’s decision, concluding that SDCL 32-12A-36(1), which disqualifies a person from driving a motor vehicle if they have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, includes convictions for both driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more (SDCL 32-23-1(1)) and convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol (SDCL 32-23-1(1)).  The Department therefore properly disqualified Erickson from holding a commercial driver’s license for one year.

The Court has released the list of its October 2017 summary dispositions:

Case Number Date Disposition Judge
State v. Sharp 28026 10-10-17 Affirmed Long
State v. Oquendo Cedeno 28140 10-10-17 Affirmed Brown
State v. Beynon 28141 10-10-17 Affirmed Spears
Interest of A.M. and E.M.



10-11-17 Affirmed Eckrich
Interests of O.A., E.A., and L.A.



10-27-17 Affirmed Means


Surat v. America Township, Brule Cnty. Bd. Of Supervisors, 2017 S.D. 69.  The board of supervisors downgraded a seven-mile stretch of road from full maintenance to minimum maintenance.  A portion of the road provided the Surat family and Surat Farmers access to South Dakota Highway 50.  Surat appealed the Board’s decision to the circuit court.  The circuit court reversed the board’s decision, and the Township appealed.

Continue Reading November 9, 2017, Case Summaries

Reede Construction, Inc. v. South Dakota Dep’t of Transportation, 2017 SD 63.  The South Dakota DOT contracted with Reede Construction to perform highway construction work in Sioux Falls.  DOT refused to issue a letter of acceptance after requesting numerous repairs, many of which Reede never performed.  Reede eventually left the job and demanded payment for the repairs it had completed.  Reede sued, and DOT counterclaimed.  At trial, the jury returned a verdict awarding no damages to either party.  DOT filed a motion for a new trial, arguing insufficient evidence supported the jury’s verdict.  The circuit court denied the motion, and the Court, per Chief Justice Gilbertson, affirmed.

Continue Reading November 2, 2017, Case Summaries

Chicoine v. Davis, et al., 2017 S.D. 62.  The Chicoines brought an action asking that the circuit court declare that they had an access easement across Mineral Survey 1758 into the adjoining Mineral Survey 1794.  The circuit court found that no easement existed, either by grant or prescription.  The Chicoines appealed the circuit court’s determination, asserting that a public right-of-way existed across Mineral Survey 1758 by grant.  They did not appeal the denial of a prescriptive easement.  The Supreme Court, per Justice Severson, affirmed, concluding that the deeds to Mineral Survey 1758 that include a “statutory easement” unambiguously refer to  section-line highways established by SDCL ch. 31-18, which establishes a public highway along every section line in the state, and that, alternatively, the requirements for a public easement by grant would need to be demonstrated.  There was, however, no dispute that the road was not along a section line, and there had been no argument that the road was a relocated section-line highway.  The Court therefore could not determine whether the road in dispute was a section-line highway.  The Chicoines therefore had not met their burden as they failed to establish a right in the disputed road that traverses Mineral Survey 1758 by grant in deeds or by statute.

The Court has released the list of its September 2017 summary dispositions:

Case Term Number Disposition Judge
State v. Thomas August 28038 Affirmed Jensen
State v. Arends August 28043 Affirmed DeVaney
State v. Janis August 28073 Affirmed Eklund
Good v. Carlson August 28090 Affirmed Pfeifle
Estate of Snaza August 28102 Affirmed Flemmer
State v. Warner August 28125 Affirmed DeVaney
Wolford v. Bd. of Pardons & Paroles August 28157 Affirmed Salter
Dillon v. Moeller v. Westfield Indus., Ltd. August 28118 Affirmed Barnett
State v. Eckman August 28119 Affirmed Eng
Morris v. Dooley SAugust 28019 Affirmed Trandahl
State v. Riese August 28012 Affirmed Davis
Interest of K.S., K.S., K.S., and V.S. N/A 28062 Affirmed Gusinsky

As it stands, this means that we can likely expect written opinions in the following cases from the August 2017 calendar:

  • Moulton v. Moulton, #27991
  • State v. Shelton, #28016  (This opinion was published on September 13, 2017).
  • Scherer v. Scherer, #28023
  • Beals v. Autotrac, Inc., #28024
  • State v. Martin, #28025
  • Sigler v. Sigler, #28057
  • Riggs v. Bennett Cnty. Hospital & Nursing Home, #28092
  • Richarz v. Richarz, #28104
  • Chicoine v. Davis, et al., #28114
  • State v. Bolton, #28127
  • Iannarelli v. Young, #28151
  • Oyen v. Lawrence Cnty. Comm’n#28085
  • Wyman v. Bruckner, #27935
  • State v. Wayfair, #28160 (This decision was issued on September 13, 2017).