Roberts County Defendant Loses Due to ND Lawyer; Bennett County Defendants Able to Walk?

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.

2 Responses to Roberts County Defendant Loses Due to ND Lawyer; Bennett County Defendants Able to Walk?

  1. Roberts County Defendant didn’t lose. The insurance company of Roberts County Defendant lost. It was that insurance company that hired the out-of-state lawyer. If Ms. Thompson the plaintiff is awarded a judgment higher than the insurance limits, then Defendant Nicholas Helgeson will have a claim against his own insurance company for the uncovered amount awarded to Ms. Thompson and probably for additional damages too.

    As to Mr. Orrock, I suspect that he is in the clear. If no eligible candidate runs for election the county commission can appoint someone from outside the county, which is how he got the job in the first place. He then ran unopposed, which may not be proper. But without any other attorney who ran the county commission could simply have appointed him again anyway. Maybe at some point they did or will pass a motion to appoint him in the event that his election was improper.

  2. Oh brother, the lawyers will be lining up in the halls outside the clerk’s office to get the records to form the class action lawsuit. South Dakota is soooo “stupid is as stupid does”.