In our discussion of the apparent ineligibility of Bennett County state’s attorney Kenneth Orrock and one of his three challengers, Shiloh MacNally, for that office due to their residency in a non-contiguous county, an eager reader asked if Orrock’s ineligibility could provide defendants a way to avoid prosecution in Bennett County. Another reader suggests a convicted defendant could at least get a retrial based on Orrock’s lack of qualification.
A Roberts County case may support that legal interpretation. A woman suing for the wrongful death of her father in a car crash has obtained a default judgment because the defendant’s attorney isn’t licensed to practice law in South Dakota:
Circuit Judge Jon Flemmer’s ruling allows Teresa Thompson to submit proof of damages in the case against driver Nicholas Helgeson for the 2009 crash that killed her father. A motion filed on behalf of an insurer seeking to set aside the ruling is scheduled to be considered on Monday.
Flemmer ruled that Fargo-based attorney William Harrie did not properly appear, so the appropriate action is to quash all pleadings signed by Harrie and consider his actions null and void [“Judge: Lawyer Wasn’t Licensed to Appear in Roberts County Crash Case,” AP via Hub City Radio, 2016.04.20].
Under South Dakota law, Kenneth Orrock cannot properly appear as Bennett County’s state’s attorney when he lives two counties away. Defendants should take note. So, it seems, should the Bennett County Commission before they take anyone else to court.