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June 2007

Judges erase many DUIs

Accountability elusive because state doesn't track suspended sentences

By Jonathan Ellis

6-4-07 -- More than 4,800 people arrested for driving drunk in the past five years have received a form of judicial leniency that often results in their criminal records being cleansed of the offenses. . . . Some judges and magistrates in South Dakota are more generous than others in granting sentences known as suspended impositions to DUI defendants. . . . Defendants in such cases typically agree to a probationary term and other conditions. If they stay out of trouble, the offense is removed from their public records and their case files sealed. . . . But it's virtually impossible for the public to gauge whether judges, who are elected, acted appropriately - or whether the system even works.


February 2007

Teaching Long a lesson?

J.A.I.L. amendment proponents blame official for its failure

By David Kranz

2-5-07 -- Advocates of the judicial accountability measure that met a resounding defeat by an 89 percent to 11 percent margin in the Nov. 7 election do not seem to be giving up. . . . They are accusing the South Dakota Legislature of corruption, the State Bar Association of deception and Attorney General Larry Long of misrepresentation. . . . And they suggest that their issue was a victim of election fraud. But Long says his critics need not blame, but instead credit South Dakota voters for studying the issue and making up their own mind. . . . Bill Stegmeier, the South Dakota amendment sponsor from Tea, says the failed Judicial Accountability Initiated Law (J.A.I.L.) brought out the big guns to oppose them. . . . "To wit, the oil conglomerates, the banking cartel, and the multi-billion dollar national insurance industries. All these see a major threat to their imperial empires by placing power into the hands of us, the little guys (the People). Such could never be duplicated by emphasis on any other issue, including the tax movement. It is my judgment that these other focuses distract from truly hurting the mystical power-brokers who operate behind the scenes," Stegmeier says. . . . Now he is serving notice to opponents not to underestimate them. . . . "As Arnold would say, 'We'll be back!"And next time, thanks to the lessons we have learned, our new Judicial Accountability Amendment will be bulletproof. And for good measure, we will also put on the ballot an amendment to outlaw computerized vote counting. And just because they have peeved us off, how about an amendment to require judges to inform the jury it has the right to judge the law as well as the accused's guilt or innocence? I think so!"


Cigarrest to Stop Smoking in 7 Days!


October 2006

Click headline for full story

The Amendment E  Article that Slate Magazine Refused to Publish

By: Attorney Gary L. Zerman

10-25-06 -- This is South Dakota Judicial Accountability’s (sponsors of “Amendment E” on the 2006 ballot) reply to Bert Brandenburg’s (Executive Director, Justice At Stake -JAS), two Slate pieces “Rushmore to Judgment,” March 14, and “Bench-Clearing Brawl,” July 28, 2006. . . . In Rushmore, Brandenburg wrote that our initiative is “… one of the most radical threats to justice this side of the Spanish Inquisition.” Apparently Brandenburg missed the fact that inquisitions are done by those in power – to the People. Not the other way around. . . . In Bench-Clearing Brawl, he wrote that the 2006 election will have “…a cluster of state ballots initiatives designed to hobble the courts… that point toward a political intimidation racket benefiting special interests that want courts to deliver results, not justice.” Imagine that?  We’re a grass roots citizens’ group, yet he and his group JAS are the guys out of DC - and he calls us “special interests.” See who they really are. Readers you decide if our initiative or Brandenburg - is the threat to justice. . . . If we’re so wrong in South Dakota, why does his Brawl piece point up that citizens in Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and Illinois are also putting forth measures to make the judiciary accountable? Actually he put it: “… court-bashers have been busily framing their anger in accountability terms that resonate with American values.” Resonate with American values? You bet.  He didn’t tell you that resonation is also being felt in DC where Rep. Sensenbrenner and Sen. Grassley want an inspector general to ride herd over the federal judiciary and finally there is clamor for impeaching USDC (Cal.) Judge Manuel Real. 


High court justices' fate up to voters

But issue attracts little attention

Terry Woster

All five of South Dakota's Supreme Court justices face re-election next month, although a voter might be forgiven for not knowing that. . . . The justices run in a typically quiet retention election, not the noisier atmosphere of a competitive campaign. Voters make a yes or no decision on each of the five judges, basing their decision, in theory, on the performance of each member of the Supreme Court. . . . In reality, a lot of people won't know they have a voice in the Supreme Court process until they see the ballot, said Barry Vickrey, dean of the University of South Dakota School of Law. . . . Certainly with this year's long ballot, what are essentially uncontested (Supreme Court) races aren't likely to get much attention from the public," Vickrey said. "Do most people know the justices and their records? I doubt it, candidly. You aren't going to see the TV spots. You aren't going to see advertising."



September 2006

Zogby Poll: South Dakota Amendment E (JAIL) Support at 67%

Controversial judicial accountability measure enjoys high support across all demographics

By Bob Ellis, Dakota Voice

9-22-06  -- Bill Stegmeier of South Dakota Judicial Accountability says a Zogby International poll he commissioned for the upcoming vote on Amendment E has yielded some interesting results. . . . According to the Zogby poll conducted yesterday of 504 South Dakota likely voters, 67% say they will vote for Amendment E. Those who say they will vote against the measure are 19.8% and 13.2% are “not sure.” The poll has a +/- 4.5% margin. . . . The question asked of poll respondents was as follows: . . . Amendment E called the Judicial Accountability Amendment will be on the ballot this November. The amendment would allow the creation of a citizen's oversight committee or special grand jury which would hear complaints of alleged judicial misconduct against judges. If a judge is found guilty three times of having engaged in judicial misconduct, he or she would be removed from office and could never serve in any judicial capacity in South Dakota again. Will you vote for Amendment E or will you vote against Amendment E? . . . Democrats say they will support the measure by 69.8%, Republicans by 62.2%, Independents by 72.5% and all three Libertarians polled said they would support the amendment.  . . . Democrats made up 32% of the total surveyed,  Republicans 46%, Independents 21% and about 0.6% Libertarians.  In the June 2006 primary, the breakdown of registered voters for South Dakota was 47.68% Republican, 37.97% Democrat, .22% Libertarian, .07% Constitution, and 14.06% "other." . . . The measure was also the subject of a recent lawsuit which asked for the official ballot explanation for Amendment E to be changed; the lawsuit ended with only a one-word change being approved by the court.


Suspended judgment better name

Rick Riedel

9-15-06  -- Until returning to South Dakota a few years ago I admit I had never heard of the term "suspended imposition of sentence." . . . Living in the south for 25 years gave me a different idea of committing a crime and doing the time. In fact, I worked as a prison chaplain in south Georgia for 12 years and every one of the inmates knew that if they got caught, they would serve time in prison. . . . Imagine my surprise then to return to South Dakota and see this phenomenon called the suspended imposition. As I understand it, someone - anyone - can commit a crime and at the judge's discretion be given a suspended imposition, which means the criminal doesn't have to do the time associated with the crime and any record of having committed the crime will be erased, providing that person meets all of the court's conditions.. . . Another term used quite often - the suspended sentence - means that the record of the crime stays, but the person gets off without actually doing any time in prison. Of course, there is a stipulation that requires they be on good behavior for a period of time, but still, they don't have to go to prison. . . . Now, everyone who knows me will tell you that I believe in grace. I believe in receiving a second chance when we do something that is against our character, use bad judgment or just plain do something stupid.

Rick Riedel is a pastor in Aberdeen and owner of Riedel Consulting, a conflict management and negotiation firm. Write to him at American News, P.O. Box 4430, Aberdeen, SD 57402, or e-mail americannews@aberdeennews.com.


August 2006

South Dakota: AG's Ballot Summary Is Prejudicial, Judge Rules

8-31-06 -- Pierre, SD: The state attorney general's description of a proposed ballot initiative to legalize the physician recommended use of cannabis is prejudicial and must be rewritten, a South Dakota Circuit Judge has determined.

As initially drafted, the state's summary of Initiated Measure 4 implied that "the attorney general wants voters to reject the initiative," Circuit Judge Max Gors ruled. "The attorney general should confine his politicking to the stump and leave his bias out of the ballot statement that is supposed to be objective." . . . The initiative, sponsored by South Dakotans for Safe Access, would allow state-qualified patients to possess up to six plants and/or one ounce of cannabis for medical purposes. Qualified patients must possess a physician's recommendation to use cannabis and must register with the state Department of Health. Non-registered patients, or those who possess greater quantities of cannabis than allowed under state law, would have the option of raising an 'affirmative defense' of medical necessity at trial.


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January 4, 2006

'06 Dakota Ballot, J.A.I.L. Justice

J.A.I.L. is a single-issue national grassroots organization designed to end the rampant and pervasive judicial corruption in the legal system of the United States. J.A.I.L. recognizes this can be achieved only through making the Judicial Branch of government answerable and accountable to an entity other than itself. At this time it isn't, resulting in the judiciary's arbitrary abuse of the doctrine of judicial immunity, leaving the People without recourse when their inherent rights are violated by judges. . . . With the passage of J.A.I.L. accountability to the People will be achieved by Special Grand Juries dedicated to this purpose. These People, who are not officers of any other Branch of government or members of the Bar, will be publicly drawn by lottery for limited terms. Complaints will come before them only after every other legal remedy has been attempted. They shall have the power to strip judges of their protection of judicial immunity who are the subject of complaints for criminal acts, and to investigate, indict, and initiate criminal prosecution of wayward judges. . . . The granting of such power to these Special Grand Juries can only be accomplished through amendment to the Constitutions of each state. Since there is a need for these juries on the federal level there is also a provision for a federal J.A.I.L. Bill. Since there are powerful vested interests in the status quo, and because it is human nature for men always to seek more power and against it to surrender any of it, passage of more than ineffectual cosmetic reform will require the initiative process. Click Here For The Full Story


December 2005

Secretary of State: Judicial Accountability Initiative Petition Signatures Certified

Secretary of State Chris Nelson announced today that the second of two possible constitutional amendment ballot questions generated by citizens’ signatures is certified. Secretary Nelson verified that this petition contains the 33,456 signatures required for ballot certification. The petition proposes a constitutional amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to add a new section titled Judicial Accountability Initiative Law. The question will be included on the November 2006 general election ballot as Constitutional Amendment E.


Disorder in the Courts

Civilization requires the rule of law

By Dr. Allen Unruh

Guest Column from Dakota Voice

Richard Hopewell, attorney in Sioux Falls, last month wrote an article (Sioux Falls Argus Leader) taking several of my statements out of context regarding the new "Jail For Judges" initiative. His article didn't discuss one true issue connected with the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (J.A.I.L).

The majority of Americans now feel that our country is in a state of "judicial crisis" with activist judges. This is an issue that crosses all socio-economic and political barriers. For instance, just recently a judge in California ruled that illegal aliens who are convicted criminals have privacy rights and the justice department can't even release their names, but convicted American criminals don't have privacy rights. A judge ruled in Oregon that live sex acts in public are protected expression under the constitution.

Judges are re-defining marriage against the vote of the people and in Massachusetts even ordering the state legislature to pass a law. Government by judges is no longer democracy or represents our Republic (rule by the people). It is an oligarchy (rule by a few). And when judges not only rule but do so under no restraint, it is tyranny!

Justices are endorsing terrorists' rights, and importing Foreign Law. Is that in the Constitution? Justices are granting illegal immigrants rights equal with citizens; Prop 187, Nov, 20 1995 California. Missouri voters defeated a tax increase, but Federal Judges overruled; 8th circuit Missouri v Jenkins Apr 18, 1990. Arkansas passed term limits for politicians but Federal Judges overruled; Sup. Ct, Term limits v Thornton, May 22, 1995.

The liberal supreme court justice who erected the "separation of church and state" was a member of the Klu Klux Klan. Decades of judicial activism have made the Supreme Court the greatest threat to American Freedom.

The framers of the constitution, conscious of the fallibility of man, devised a structure of checks and balances to prevent any one branch of government from exercising too much power. But while the founders limited the executive and legislature, they stopped short of sufficiently checking and balancing the judiciary. And why should they have? The founders assumed that the courts would be checked and balanced by the law, ultimately, the Constitution. And, where courts must decide a question now addressed by a statute, they follow precedent.

The founders never dreamed there would come a time when an American court would presume to make up and then enforce rights never mentioned in the Constitution. They could never have imagined that a court would ignore precedent to the extent of throwing out thousands of years of family law to open up marriage to people of the same sex.

They could never have conceived of postmodernist legal theory, which recognizes no fixed, objective meaning in the law; which believes interpretation of the law is an arbitrary construction; which believes statutes and the Constitution itself are ever-evolving, relativistic paradigms that can be used to impose the judge's personal opinion.

Thomas Jefferson said, "The Constitution is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please." Sept. 6, 1819 James Madison: "All men having power ought to be distrusted."

Mr. Hopewell quotes "Marbury V. Madison” in 1803 where the Supreme Court determined it has the power to decide cases about the constitutionality of congressional or executive actions and overturn them. And this, quite literally, is the foundation of the runaway power exercised by the federal courts to this day. It was crafted by John Marshall - chief justice. He wrote the decision, not to set a revolutionary precedent, but to deny the new president, Jefferson, his longtime political rival, an opportunity to rebuff a Supreme Court controlled by Jefferson's Federalist's opponents."

The Declaration of Independence says, "Whenever any government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right and the duty of the people to alter or abolish it. That's what J.A.I.L is all about. Preserving the Rule of Law for future generations.

And that's why SD will be the first state in the nation to hold judges accountable only when they violate the constitution by over-ruling state referendums and/or legislation passed by elected officials.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dr. Allen Unruh is a Sioux Falls physician, co-founder of the Abstinence Clearinghouse,
and serves on the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion.

11-22-05

 


South Dakota Judicial Accountability

Official Website for the SD J.A.I.L. Amendment



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 "Whenever any government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right and the duty of the people to alter or abolish it.
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INAUGURATED ON: November 22. 2005
Updated: 11/19/2009