Articles Posted in South Dakota Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal from the habeas court's denial of Appellant's petition for writ of habeas corpus for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the certificate of probable cause issued by the circuit court was inadequate. Appellant was found to have violated the terms of his probation and forced to serve his sentence with credit for time already served. Thereafter, Appellant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging violations of his rights to due process and effective assistance of counsel. The habeas court denied the petition after a trial and filed an order for issuance of certificate of probate cause. Appellant appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the habeas court's order for issuance of certificate of probable cause was insufficient to render jurisdiction to this Court. View "Wright v. Young" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for first-degree robbery and aiding, abetting, or advising first-degree robbery stemming from two separate cases, holding that any error in the proceedings below was harmless. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court did not by denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictments for violation of his statutory and constitutional rights to a speedy trial; (2) Defendant’s waiver of Miranda rights and subsequent statements were voluntary, knowing, and intelligent; and (3) although Defendant invoked his right to an attorney, his unambiguous request occurred after he had confessed to the crimes, and therefore, the detectives’ error in continuing the interview after that point was harmless, and the circuit court’s failure to exclude Defendant’s post-invocation statements was also harmless. View "State v. Two Hearts" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for second-degree murder, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a firearm by a convicted drug offender, holding that no error occurred in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant’s motion to sever; (2) did not err by allowing other acts evidence and certain opinion testimony to be introduced at trial; (3) did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion for a mistrial; and (4) did not err in denying Defendant’s motions or judgment of acquittal. View "State v. Stone" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of second-degree murder, holding that the circuit court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of first-degree manslaughter. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court abused its discretion by refusing to instruct the jury on first- and second-degree manslaughter and that there was insufficient evidence in the record to support his conviction of second-degree murder. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the evidence entitled Defendant to an instruction on first-degree manslaughter. The Court remanded for a new trial on the issue of jury instructions for lesser-included offenses. View "State v. Swan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentence, imposing in connection with his conviction of second-degree rape, of forty years in the state penitentiary, with five years suspended, to run consecutive to the prison term Defendant was currently serving in Iowa for offenses involving the same victim, holding that the sentence was not cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) after weighing the gravity of the offense against the sentence Defendant received, the circuit court did not violate Defendant’s constitutional rights by imposing a sentence within the authorized fifty-year maximum; and (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Yeager" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for unauthorized possession of a controlled substance and admitting to five prior felony convictions but reversed Defendant’s sentence, holding that the record lacked a sufficient statement of aggravating circumstances that would justify a departure from a presumptive sentence. Here, the judgment and sentence contained a purported statement of aggravating circumstances, but it was not provided by the sentencing court on the record. The Supreme Court held (1) under S.D. Codified Laws 22-6-11, the sentencing court, not the prosecutor, must state on the record the aggravating circumstances impacting public safety as a predicate to departing from a presumptive sentence and include those factors in the written judgment; and (2) the circuit court incorrectly determined that section 22-6-11 did not apply and in sentencing Defendant as though he had actually been convicted of a class C felony, rather than a class 5 felony. View "State v. Roedder" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment convicting Defendant of first-degree rape, multiple counts of sexual contact with a child, and possessing, manufacturing, or distributing child pornography, holding that the circuit court did not violate Defendant’s right to a public trial when it ordered the partial closure of the courtroom during the minor victim’s testimony. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court erred in partially closing the courtroom in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial and that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress his non-custodial statement to a law enforcement officer. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no violation of Defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial; and (2) the absence of any custodial interrogation rendered Defendant’s second argument unsustainable under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1996), and Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. at 485-85 (1990). View "State v. Uhre" on Justia Law

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In this criminal case, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court admitting certain other acts evidence and denying Defendant’s motion for a mistrial, holding that the circuit court did not err in admitting the evidence or by denying Defendant’s motion for a mistrial. Defendant was convicted of multiple sex crimes involving two minor victims under the age of sixteen. Among the issues on appeal was the court’s admission of internet searches that used terms associated with an interest in younger females and Defendant’s act of piercing his penis. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion by admitting the internet search histories and piercing evidence; and (2) acted within its discretion when it denied Defendant’s motion for a mistrial after Defendant learned during trial that the bailiff had recently been employed by the State’s attorney. View "State v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of first-degree felony murder, commission of a felony while armed with a firearm, and burglary in the first degree, holding that the circuit court properly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress and did not err by refusing to compel specific performance of a plea agreement. On appeal, Defendant argued that his statements to law enforcement during a custodial interrogation should have bene suppressed because they were obtained in violation of his right to counsel and right against self-incrimination. Defendant further claimed that the circuit court erred in denying his motion for specific performance of the plea agreement that he alleged would have allowed him to plead guilty to manslaughter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the admission of the evidence that was the subject of the motion to suppress was harmless error even if the statements had been unlawfully obtained; and (2) Defendant failed to show an enforceable plea agreement existed, and therefore, the circuit court properly denied Defendant’s motion for specific performance of the plea agreement. View "State v. Lewandowski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s judgment of conviction and sentence for third-degree rape, holding that the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from a warrantless search of his garage, holding that Defendant was not seized for Fourth Amendment purposes at the beginning of his encounter with police deputies and that his consent to search the garage was voluntary. On appeal, Defendant asserted that he was unreasonably seized by deputies before the search took place, and therefore, any consent give to search the garage after the seizure was not voluntary. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the deputies’ actions were reasonable, Defendant was not seized as soon as the encounter began, and Defendant’s consent to search the garage was voluntary. View "State v. Rolfe" on Justia Law