South Dakota’s attorneys are catching up with legal experts in North Dakota and Montana in condemning Jason Glodt’s Amendment S, the astroturf constitutional amendment that the Republican consultant is promoting on California billionaire Henry T. Nicholas’s money. Dana Ferguson reports that the South Dakota Bar Association almost unanimously affirms my analysis that Amendment S costs too much, hampers due process, and is unnecessary. At their business meeting Friday, at the end of their state convention in Sioux Falls, Glodt’s fellow lawyers reject his contention that South Dakota’s laws are not protecting crime victims:
“This is truly an idea chasing a problem that we do not have in our state,” Mark Meierhenry, a former South Dakota attorney general, said. “This is a philosophically dangerous idea … this is a step toward more vengeance, more unforgivingness, and toward private prosecution.”
Aaron McGowan, Minnehaha County state’s attorney and president of the South Dakota State’s Attorneys Association, said the measure would be counterintuitive as it would require state’s attorneys and victims’ advocates to spend more time following up with victims of petty crime, rather than those affected by more serious crimes.
“If we change the definition as proposed by this constitutional amendment, we are truly going to water down resources to our vulnerable and needy victims in our society,” McGowan said.
Ryan Kolbeck, president of the South Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the state’s lawyers already stand up for victims’ rights. He said legal and constitutional changes should be considered in the Legislature, not on the ballot.
“When you give somebody a constitutional right, litigation will occur,” Kolbeck said. “We have the best lawyers in the country in this room right now. You’re trying to tell me that they won’t be standing up for these constitutional rights?” [Dana Ferguson, “State Bar Says ‘No’ to Marsy’s Law,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.06.24]
Former attorney general, current state’s attorney, current defense lawyer… that hits three pretty big bases of UJS expertise. I wonder if Henry T. Nicholas will send Jason Glodt money to buy ads taking up Kolbeck’s challenge and saying that South Dakota’s prosecutors don’t care about crime victims. McGowan seems keenly concerned about victims, saying that Amendment S will actually make it harder to serve the victims who need his help the most.
That’s what happens when some rich guy buys his way onto ballots and tries to impose his vanity bill on state constitutions instead of studying each state’s unique laws and cooperating with state experts to identify possible areas of improvement in each state’s justice system.