Union County State’s Attorney Opposes Costly Amendment S

Add Union County’s Jerry Miller to the list of state’s attorneys opposing Amendment S. The Union County state’s attorney (one of whose deputies is Jason Ravnsborg, who’s been making rounds of the state opposing other ballot measures and boosting his profile for a bid for attorney general or worse in 2018) sends Dakota Free Press the following missive saying we don’t need California billionaire Henry T. Nicholas’s astroturf crime victims bill of rights.

Miller, who is also president of the South Dakota State’s Attorneys Association, points to Nicholas’s identical measure on North Dakota’s ballot and says the cost there (per an estimate by the North Dakota Office of Management and Budget) will be $2 million each year (or $4 million per biennium, since North Dakota does two-year budgets). The best argument Nicholas’s paid flackers in North Dakota can offer is that not all crime victims will exercise their new rights… which doesn’t change the argument that this astroturf will increase costs for new victims who do exercise these new rights… unless nobody new actually signs up, which would mean Amendment S really is just a vanity exercise for Nicholas and a money-making exercise for its local flackers.

Here’s Miller’s statement in full:

I am writing this letter to urge all citizens of South Dakota to vote NO on Constitutional Amendment S, otherwise known as Marsy’s Law. The SD State’s Attorneys’ Association, which comprises the largest professional organization in the State of South Dakota that fights day in and day out on behalf of victims, opposes Amendment S. The South Dakota Bar voted to oppose Amendment S, with the only voice in opposition being the one attorney who is being paid by the California billionaire to push a California solution, where there is no problem here in South Dakota.

Unlike our state’s constitutional provision for ‘due process’, which is only two sentences long, Amendment S has 19 subsections.

Amendment S is not the answer. The proper response would be to petition the legislature to modify the list of crimes in which the victim of such a crime should be entitled to support. At that point the legislature could create levels of support within the statutes, instead of treating every victim of vandalism the same as a rape victim and other serious violent felony offenses. Amendment S goes too far by broadly defining who qualifies as a victim.

Amendment S will require all counties to either change or abandon their current systems, hire more employees, and increase the number of people who are considered victims ten- fold. South Dakota currently uses a system called the ‘Statewide Automated Victim Information Notification’ system, known as SAVIN. Upgrading SAVIN will cost the State an estimated $340K, in addition to an increase in full-time staffing. The requirements of Amendment S will cost the State and each individual county tax payer much more to become compliant.

The County Commissioners’ Association voted to oppose Amendment S because of the demand of resources on the county budgets. North Dakota faces the same question that we do here in South Dakota. Opponents in North Dakota estimated the costs for implementing Marsy’s Law to cost approximately four million in tax payer dollars over the next two years. Individual County Commissioner Boards, individual State’s Attorneys, as well as the Criminal Defense Bar are ALSO united in opposition to Amendment S.

Please Vote NO on Amendment S [Jerry Miller, Union County State’s Attorney, press release, 2016.10.18].

I continue to look for a single state’s attorney to join lonely Beadle County state’s attorney Michael Moore in endorsing the otherwise friendless Amendment S.

4 Responses to Union County State’s Attorney Opposes Costly Amendment S

  1. http://www.aberdeennews.com/news/opinion/letters/letter-unintended-consequences-of-marsy-s-law-by-chriswhite-sd/article_5cd8383f-e666-5302-a07e-4543271cfb2f.html

    Here is what Brown County’s Next State’s Attorney had to say about the ammendment

    As the next Brown County State’s Attorney I want to share the reasons I believe you should vote no on Constitutional Amendment S, also known as Marsy’s Law.

    The prosecutors in my office fight daily to give crime victims of Brown County a voice. Amendment S will only hinder that fight by diverting time, attention and money away from victims who need our help. There are at least three unintended consequences you should know about.

    First, Amendment S will dilute services we currently provide victims of violent crimes by requiring prosecutors to spend more time with victims of nonviolent, misdemeanor crimes. For example, if someone steals a pack of gum from a major discount store, Amendment S will require the store receive the same victim services as the family of a murder victim. While the number of major felony victims is relatively few in Brown County, the needs of these victims will be short-changed by thousands of misdemeanor cases covered by Amendment S.

    Second, Amendment S will cause unnecessary delay in an already congested court system. For example, if a person steals a pack of gum on Sunday night and wants to plead guilty on Monday morning, the strict requirements of Amendment S will likely prevent that from happening because victim notice requirements cannot be met. Prosecutors will be forced to request a continuance even though the defendant is ready and willing to plead guilty.

    Finally, Amendment S will cost you money. The taxpayers of Brown County will need to hire at least one victim advocate and additional support staff to keep up with the requirements of Amendment S. You should also know that in states where Marsy’s Law has been adopted, counties get sued when the requirements of this law are not met. Who pays the tab for this? You do. This means either higher taxes or less money for roads, bridges and other vital governmental services.

    Please vote no on Amendment S.

    Chris White


    I am with him, I am also voting no!

  2. So the bail bondman from Dakota Dunes convinced his GOP Party state’s attorney to put Ravnsborg’s name on the website so Ravnsborg can claim to have prosecuting experience. Got it. Anybody heard of Ravnsborg doing any actual work for the Union County SA’s office?

  3. Would Amendment S allow the victim of domestic violence to have more control over the prosecution of the defendant?

  4. Technically, no, Doug, because victims of domestic violence are already covered by South Dakota’s statutory crime victims bill of rights. The state’s attorneys might argue that Amendment S will cut into the rights domestic abuse victims currently enjoy, since resources will be spread thin to victims of other, lesser crimes.