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).


State v. Stenstrom, 2017 SD 61.  After several drug-related charges, Stenstrom and the State reached a deal in which Stenstrom agreed to plead guilty to one count of possessing a controlled substance, and, in exchange, the State agreed to drop other charged offenses.  The agreement also required Stenstrom to successfully complete the drug-court program.  The circuit court imposed a four-year sentence but suspended its execution on the condition that Stenstrom complete the program and undergo three years of supervised probation.  When Stenstrom left her sober-living home and failed to return, and then failed to attend hearings and meetings, a warrant was issued for her arrest.  She subsequently told her court-services officer that she had used meth and marijuana during her absence. When her court services officer filed a drug-court termination report, she was permitted to remain in the program.  She continued, however, to struggle with the program’s requirements.  After at least two more drug-court team meetings and drug-court termination reports, and several more criminal charges, the circuit court held a hearing to determine whether Stenstrom had violated the requirements of the drug-court program, and whether she should be terminated from the program.  The drug-court team unanimously recommended terminating her from the program.  The State thus filed a motion to revoke the suspension of execution of her sentence.  At the hearing on that motion, Stenstrom waived her rights and admitted to violating the conditions of her suspended sentence, and the circuit court therefore reinstated her original four-year sentence.  Stenstrom appealed her termination from the drug-court program and subsequent revocation of execution of a four-year sentence, arguing that the drug court violated her statutory and constitutional rights to due process and counsel by denying her request to permit her attorney to attend drug-court meetings.  She also argued that her termination from the drug-court program was error.  On appeal, the Court first noted that it did not have jurisdiction to directly review the drug court’s actions, but that it did have appellate jurisdiction over the circuit court’s decision to revoke the suspension of execution of Stenstrom’s sentence.  Because Stenstrom waived the right to contest revocation, the only question for appeal was whether the circuit court abused its discretion by revoking the suspension of execution of Stenstrom’s sentence and reinstating her original, four-year sentence.  On that question, the Court, per Chief Justice Gilbertson, affirmed.

A number of new Supreme Court rules have recently become effective:

  • In the Matter of the Amendment of SDCL 16-3-5.1, Rule 17-09. SDCL 16-3-5.1 sets forth the procedure for the enactment of new rules, the amendment or repeal of existing rules or statutes relating to the administration of the courts, the number and composition of circuits and judges assigned to the circuits, pleading, practice, or procedure, or the admission, disbarment, discipline, or reinstatement of attorneys to practice the profession of law as may be adopted by the South Dakota Supreme Court.  The Court’s amendment modifies SDCL 16-3.5.1 to provide that the clerk of the Court shall give thirty days’ notice of an intention to adopt, amend, or repeal rules by electronic mail notification to members of the South Dakota State Bar and by posting notice on the Unified Judicial System’s website or the South Dakota State Bar’s website.  This rule became effective on July 5, 2017, which was the date of filing.

Continue Reading September 2017 Rule Changes

On September 19, 2017, Governor Dennis Daugaard announced that he had chosen Judge Steven Jensen, the presiding judge of the First Judicial Circuit, and a fourteen-year veteran of the bench, to fill the opening on the South Dakota Supreme Court created by the June retirement of Justice Lori S. Wilbur.  Judge Jensen is Governor Daugaard’s third appointment to the high Court.

Continue Reading Justice Anew: Governor Daugaard Appoints Judge Steven Jensen to High Court