Residency Could Disqualify Two of Four Bennett County State’s Attorney Candidates

Britt T Long
Britt T Long

Bennett County gets an exciting primary this year. Four candidates want to be Bennett County’s next state’s attorney, two Republicans and two Democrats. However, two of those candidates, including the incumbent, may not be eligible for the job.

The Secretary of State lists the following four candidates for Bennett County state’s attorney:

Kenneth E. Orrock
Kenneth E. Orrock
  • Republican incumbent Kenneth E. Orrock
  • Republican Sarah Harris
  • Democrat Britt T. Long
  • Democrat Shiloh MacNally

Harris and Long both gave the Secretary of State addresses in Martin, the Bennett County seat. Harris and Long both appear to be registered to vote in Bennett County.

Shiloh MacNally
Shiloh MacNally

Orrock and MacNally both gave the Secretary of State Rapid City addresses. Orrock is registered to vote in Pennington County. MacNally appears to be registered to vote under the name Shiloh Marie Buffington in Pennington County.

South Dakota law evidently requires state’s attorneys to live in the counties they represent, except in the 30 counties with fewer than 5,000 residents. In 2004, Lee Schoenbeck brought us SB 108, which became SDCL 7-16-31, which allows those small counties to have nonresident state’s attorneys from contiguous counties.

Lee said contiguous:

Bennett County and Pennington County are not contiguous

Pennington County and Bennett County are not contiguous.

I probably shouldn’t get into an argument with two Rapid City lawyers. Kenneth Orrock was appointed to fill the Bennett County state’s attorney post and won reëlection to it unopposed in 2012. There thus must be some logical explanation for his eligibility to serve.

But statute seems pretty clear. On face, Long and Harris are eligible for the job. Unless they submitted the wrong address information to the Secretary of State or plan to move after the election PDQ, Orrock and MacNally are not.


34 Responses to Residency Could Disqualify Two of Four Bennett County State’s Attorney Candidates

  1. Until they take the oath of office, they are not the state’s attorney. Even after the election there will be plenty of time to move before the oath take place.

  2. You will not often hear grudznick promote a libbie, but in this case I support young Ms. Long. She looks like she could do the job well and she lives in Martin which is a fine town. Orville Salway has many fine paintings on display there depicting various things Lakota.

  3. True of MacNally, Thomas, but not true of incumbent state’s attorney Orrock. How can Orrock live and be registered to vote in Pennington but legally qualify to serve in Bennett?

  4. John Kennedy Claussen

    I thought, apparently, we all knew that addresses no longer matter in South Dakota. According to the LRC, we have two incumbent legislators in Minnehaha County representing districts that are different from their LRC home address listings, and we also got a guy running for Minnehaha County Treasurer who currently lives in Lincoln County…. Go figure…?….. But if our leaders cannot keep the addresses straight, (and it does matter), then how can we expect them to know how to investigate a challenge like EB5 or Platte correctly?……;-)

  5. Ms. Long has a good Bennett County name and possibly some bipartisan credentials. There once was a gentleman serving as state’s attorney in that county named Larry Long.

  6. Mr. Claussen, I thought some people explained that address issue to you. The LRC is oft confused and might put “home” when its really a work address. Can you name these fellows serving illegally in the legislatures? Mr. H could have them ousted.

  7. John Kennedy Claussen

    Grudz, I think you get my gist. The issues I raised along with the facts from this blog piece all speak to the realities of indifference which often come from one party rule, especially when that one party rule has gone on for nearly 40 years like it has in South Dakota. Such political stagnation breeds an institutional self-righteousness and arrogance which results often in the appearance and reality of slobby administrative results.

  8. Bah.

  9. Ror! Good historical point! Larry was a Martin boy. Britt is a transplant from New Jersey via Wyoming and Montana, with no apparent family connection.

  10. Way to go Dems!!!!!!!!

  11. Matt Rankin

    Walking disaster and career legal hack Tim Vander Heide commuted all the way from Spearfish to Martin to do this job, leaving me to believe it must be one of the most undesirable gigs in the State. They don’t teach anything in SD schools anymore, so nobody will notice that Bennett County lies completely within Lawrence county.

    That’s one of my favorite things about SD, all the laws you can ignore. Imagine the pre-prepared ramble these guys have on this issue.

  12. Dennis R Wagner

    Does Mr Orrock’s apparent ineligibility to serve as states attorney present an exploitable defense for defendants in Bennett County?

  13. Tommy Two Crow

    Maybe you should look into why Britt Long was run out of Montana. Fired from job after job, fined $15k by the Montana Supreme Court, lost sexual harassment suit against judge (because it was BS) then even after that runs against same judge and looses. Looks to me like this Shiloh is the best qualified Democrat in the race. Britt Long looks like a joke and definitely no Larry Long.

  14. Regarding Ms. Long.” She looks like she could do the job well and she lives in Martin which is a fine town.” Hmmmm. Is that your logic for supporting Ms Long? She lives in a good town? Can you or even Ms. Long site a case where she was the attorney of record who actually followed through by going to court? Having personal dealings with Ms Long, when she was sort of practicing law in Montana, I can’t site one. Can’t help but thinking that Ms Long suddenly gets cold feet when it come to putting her mouth where it counts: in court.

  15. Bill Dithmer

    Fred Cozad was the only lawyer living in Bannett County when he retired. Its tough to find a states attorney when the picking is that thin. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/09/us/subsidy-seen-as-a-way-to-fill-a-need-for-rural-lawyers.html?_r=0

    The Blindman

  16. Tommy Two Crow

    I be thinking “Ms. Long” wrote more of this article than the DFP. Maybe peeps should get behind this Shiloh since she is the only Lakota in the race and stop propping up the fake Indian Long.

  17. Tommy, I write my own articles. When I present a guest column, I identify it as such.

    I hear Ms. MacNally has asked to withdraw from the ballot; however, she has not been marked Withdrawn on the official candidate list.

  18. And has Ms. Long been pretending to be an Indian?

  19. Dennis, you raise an interesting point—if Orrock can’t legally act as state’s attorney, then did his prosecutions actually take place? I would speculate that the court would not throw out convictions won under his illegal state’s attorneyship unless convicted defendants could demonstrate some substantial error in the prosecution, something that put them at a disadvantage that would not have occurred if a local or neighbor had served as prosecutor. But that’s just a guess—I invite my lawyer friends to offer more detailed analysis.

    Bill, I can see where strict application of this law could make finding a state’s attorney really hard. But (1) that’s cause to change the law, not break it, and (2) that seems not to be the case this year, with two local candidates filing for the job.

  20. Hmmmm Ms Long told my friend (another almost client of hers) that she eventually hoped to return to SD where her family lives. BTW I had a BTRadio show in MT when she was running for judge. She said she’d be a guest. That didn’t happen either. At the time I didn’t realize how much baggage she had. Past and current.

  21. bearcreekbat

    Cory, if a defendant can show that the prosecutor was not qualified under the law there are a couple possible outcomes.

    The first outcome depends on the language of statutes giving the court subject matter jurisdiction. If statutory subject matter jurisdiction requires a qualified prosecutor, then the conviction would be automatically set aside due to the court lacking jurisdiction to try the defendant.

    In the second possible outcome (assuming statutory subject matter jurisdiction exists regardless of the prosecutor’s qualifications) where the defendant shows the prosecutor to be unqualified, then the defendant has succeeded in showing a substantial trial court error. But to obtain a reversal the defendant would have to show that the error prejudiced his defense – i.e. that the error was more than “harmless error.”

    In either case the defendant could be retried, absent some special circumstance, such as a statute of limitations issue or a finding that the state intentionally violated the law to gain some advantage over the defendant.

  22. “Fake Indian”. Is that level the people of Bennett County are going to allow this race to be run at? I’m not sure how that could ever be substantiated due to it’s utter ridiculous nature; I feel kind of terrible for even acknowledging it, but I needed to put a Native perspective in regards to how low and an unnecessary that type of remark is. And now it’s a nonissue for me.
    I’m not a resident of Bennett County at this time but as a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe have witnessed over my life time the type of complaint that comes out of our neighboring county concerning the perceived lack of justice. That is of great concern for many of us who have family and friends residing in such communities as Martin and those of us who have had to travel there for shopping and school from the eastern side of the reservation.
    I truly do believe that Britt Long has not only the qualifications to do this job but also the heart and courage to undertake a position that is most definitely going to come with it’s unique set of headaches and stress. The very fact that she sued a judge for sexual harassment shouldn’t be brought as an argument against her; that would be incredibly wrong. Rather, if brought up at all, it should be used to point out her courage and commitment to what is right and her integrity!
    I was impressed at the way Britt Long stepped up as lead attorney for the American Horse school kids who were subjected to harassment and assault by drunks at a hockey game. I can’t imagine any other attorney who would want to step into that hot mess and attach their name to such a contentious case and see it to the end. In fact, the original lead attorney bowed out without notice to move on as quietly as he could leaving the job unattended to. Because of a very real familial tie to the Allen community that is over 30 years strong, Britt Long stepped up and took on the job and has stuck with the group as it whittled down to a handful of clients; point is, Britt Long stepped up and did not shirk the dirty job of providing counsel for a group of people who quite literally had no where to turn and hung on for the long ride.
    We need that type of people in this part of our state, in our country. We need to make those traits common place among the people we elect on every level. People can make this about gossip and personal agendas or people can choose to make this about who can and Will do the job with integrity, grit and passion for the furthering of Justice in Bennett County. I hope and pray that we see a better set of standards set forth by the people of Bennett County during this election!

  23. Thanks Britt for you input. LOL

  24. Thanks Ken Orrock for your input. LOL

    Just thought I’d respond to a nonsense comment with equivalent nonsense.

  25. well it must be patently clear why dem lawyers won’t run for AG or SA very often in SD

  26. Lee Schoenbeck

    Cory, the one additional piece of law you need is that an appointed state’s attorney can live anywhere, until they run. Once they are a candidate they have to meet the contiguous county residency requirement – at least by when they take the oath if they win (I realize there is a debate about whether they need to do it by the date they sign the declaration of candidacy)

  27. Lee! Great to hear from the bill’s sponsor! So the initial appointment prior to the 2012 election was fine, but as of taking his oath following the 2012 election, Orrock could not have a Pennington County primary residence, right? Right now, he should be unable to hold that office, right?

  28. david bergum

    in response to tommy two crows allegations about britt long, i witnessed what happened to her in mt, in my county she stood up to and got rid of a sitting judge that had totally lost it, rarely showed up for work, chased and frightened local women, everyone else looked the other way britt at the cost of a good paying job and personal grief did the right thing and he is gone. to this day i have courthouse employees telling me if i see britt to thank her for doing what no one else would. there was never any sexual assault allegations only assault that the judge admitted to in writing.

  29. david bergum you must be referring to another Montana. LOL Everything pertaining to Ms Long and her short stink in Montana is on line. And most of it contradicts every thing you say.

  30. david bergum

    ele i was there and witnessed it, oh wait everything online is true i forgot

  31. Well, at least no one has questioned Long’s residency in Bennett County yet.

  32. Lee Schoenbeck

    Cory, if there was no candidate in 2012, the county should have reappointed. You might want to look and see if the state’s attorney filed for the office as a resident of a county that met the qualifications? Not sure what happens if he didn’t, and nobody challenged it. Interesting issues there

  33. david bergum. So was I a witness and can confirm all that’s on line. I save everything including emails from Britt to me. That’s why I said you must be talking about another Montana.
    http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/judge-rebukes-lewistown-judicial-candidate/article_89062d31-39eb-50f1-95b2-47fe77dee38c.html

    Judge rebukes Lewistown judicial candidate

  34. Lee, Orrock’s 2016 petition declares his Pennington County address.