SD Supreme Court to Hear Arguments at USD Law School Oct. 2-4

Photo of Court Room. The South Dakota Supreme Court will listen to oral arguments at the Law School Courtroom Oct. 2-4.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The South Dakota Supreme Court will listen to oral arguments in nine cases over three days in the University of South Dakota School of Law Courtroom Oct. 2-4.

The Supreme Court will preside over the appeals of several high-profile cases including the Joseph Patterson murder conviction, the McKennan Park Historic District home project, and a case on the limits of First Amendment protected speech. A full schedule and breakdown of each case is below.

Monday, Oct. 2 - 9 a.m. - noon - USD Law School Courtroom

State v. Patterson - Joseph Patterson is convicted of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, and aggravated battery of a child. He is serving a life sentence. Patterson is appealing whether the lower court erred in allowing the presentation of other acts to the jury and whether it erred in failing to allow Patterson to present additional instances of alleged child abuse committed by a potential third-party perpetrator.

Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. v. Parkshill Farms, LLC - Hear arguments related to Parkshill Farms’ appeal of judgment in favor of Montana-Dakota Utilities to determine if the easement of land for transmission lines was for public use.

Jensen v. Menard Inc. - Menard Inc. is appealing issues related to an almost $2.3 million judgment against the company for an incident that left a customer paralyzed.

Tuesday, Oct. 3 - 9 a.m. - noon - USD Law School Courtroom

State v. Hemminger - John Hemminger is appealing his conviction of first-degree murder for the 2015 death of Jessica Goebel. The conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The appeal will address issues related to the seizure of evidence and evidence introduced at trial.

State v. Draskovich - Edward Draskovich was convicted of threatening a judicial officer and disorderly conduct for comments he made to Minnehaha County Courthouse personnel. Draskovich raises one issue on appeal: whether his statements constituted protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

McDowell v. Sapienza - Various parties seek clarification regarding the dispute over the construction of a home in the McKennan Park Historic District in Sioux Falls against which neighbors Pierce and Barbara McDowell successfully sought relief in 2015. The Supreme Court will clarify whether the lower court correctly interpreted a ruling that state regulations for historic districts applied to the Sapienza home and whether the home violated a chimney setback requirement. The McDowells seek clarification regarding a judgment against the City of Sioux Falls. The City seeks clarification on several issues related to its responsibility.

Wednesday, Oct. 4 - 9 a.m. - noon - USD Law School Courtroom

State v. Bertram - Russell Bertram is convicted of first-degree murder for the 2015 death of Leonila Stickney. Bertram claims to have accidently shot Stickney in the torso with a shotgun. Bertram’s appeal is based on whether the lower court erred in refusing to admit a polygraph administered to Bertram to collect a life insurance policy on Stickney and whether the lower court erred in allowing evidence of Bertram’s sexual liaisons with other women leading up to the death of Stickney.

Schott v. South Dakota Wheat Growers Association - Dallas Schott sued the South Dakota Wheat Growers Association alleging its agronomist, Jason Fees, incorrectly prescribed “Beyond” herbicide for Schott’s use on his 2014 sunflower crop, destroying 1,200 acres of sunflowers. The lower court ruled in favor of South Dakota Wheat Growers Association. Schott is appealing the lower court finding that he had actual knowledge of the risk in damaging his sunflower crop, and whether as a licensed spray applicator, he should have been imputed to have knowledge of the risk.

Guardianship of Nelson - Elizabeth Nelson is appealing whether the circuit court erred in permitting a conservator to adopt a new will eliminating Elizabeth’s interest in the residuary estate of her late husband, Dean Nelson. The circuit court approved a will that awards the entire residue equally among Dean’s four daughters.

The event is free and open to the public. The South Dakota Supreme Court employs security methods to ensure the well-being of all who attend its proceedings. Book bags, backpacks, and other packages are subject to search. Attendees are encouraged to bring a minimal amount of outside items to keep the entrance process smooth and without delays. Individuals requiring assistance should contact the State Court Administrator’s Office at (605) 773-3474 at least 48 hours before the session to make any arrangements.

ABOUT THE SCHOOL OF LAW

USD’s School of Law prepares students for leadership in the administration of justice in South Dakota, including in rural areas where the demand is great, and for private practice, public service, business and other law-related endeavors anywhere. Its joint degree program allows students to also earn one of nine master’s degrees within the traditional three-year law curriculum, which includes course tracks in business, commercial, constitutional, criminal, employment, environmental, Indian, real estate and tax law as well as civil litigation and estate planning.

ABOUT USD

Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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