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Intriguing Docket Ahead for South Dakota Supreme Court

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When the South Dakota Supreme Court has their session in Vermillion in October, some very interesting cases with high profiles will get a hearing.

The University of South Dakota School of Law hosts a South Dakota Supreme Court session once every two years. The five justices will pull up stakes from their regular chambers in Pierre and settle into the Law School Courtroom on October 2-4.

For the folks on the eastern side of the state these cases will resonate to varying degrees. The range of cases includes murder convictions, a housing dispute and a threat to an officer of the court. Details on a few of the cases were dispensed in a press release by the University of South Dakota.

On Monday October 3 a highly charged case will get its hearing. It involves the man who was convicted of murdering the son of Adrian Peterson who was with the Minnesota Vikings when the death occurred. Joseph Patterson was convicted of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, and aggravated battery of a child. Patterson’s appeal hinges on 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.

One of the cases to be heard on October 3 involves a First Amendment discussion. Edward Draskovich on more than one occasion made statements to staff at the Minnehaha County Courthouse. One of those remarks alluded to bodily harm against a judge. Draskovich was convicted of threatening a judicial officer and disorderly conduct. The defendant admits he made the statements, but claims those statements are protected speech.

Also on Tuesday, we shall once again resurrect the McMansion case pitting neighbor against neighbor in McKennan Park. The final chapter in McDowell v. Sapienza should settle the construction of a home next door which prevents Pierce and Barbara McDowell from using their fireplace. Among the questions that need answers: 1) Did the lower court correctly interpret a ruling that state regulations for historic districts applied to the Sapienza home? 2) Did the home violate a chimney setback requirement? 3) The McDowells also want to tie up loose ends in their beef with the City of Sioux Falls. 4) The City wants to know the parameters of their responsibility in this case.

On Wednesday, the Court will hear a case involving the former Police Chief in Harrisburg. During a hunting outing, a gun held by Russell Bertram discharged and killed Leonila Stickney. A jury found Bertram guilty of murder. Justices will hear arguments on two issues both involving the admission of evidence. One was a polygraph given to Bertram that was not allowed, the other was personal details about Bertram that were admitted as evidence.

There are a few other cases that will get a fair hearing in court this week as the Supreme Court Justices will serve in Vermillion.

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