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Jackley Subpoenas SF Reporter Ferguson in Hagen Marijuana Case

Attorney General Marty Jackley is forcing journalist Dana Ferguson to testify in his prosecution of marijuana entrepreneur Eric Hagen, who goes to trial in Flandreau on May 22. Ferguson’s employer finds the subpoena of its reporter troubling:

“Commanding our reporter to testify in this case is not only troubling but unnecessary,” Argus Leader Media news director Cory Myers said. “There are multiple avenues for the attorney general to get testimony about the tour, including from any of the five elected officials present, without compromising our reporter’s role as a independent observer” [Jonathan Ellis, “State Prosecutor Orders Reporter to Testify in Flandreau Marijuana Case,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.05.13]

The five legislators who visited the soon-shuttered tribal marijuana resort at Royal River Casino in October 2015 were Mathew Wollmann, Scott Parsley, Spence Hawley, Elizabeth May, and Paula Hawks. I can understand why the Attorney General would want to keep fatuous intern-boinker Mathew Wollmann off the stand—Republican candidates like Jackley probably don’t want to be seen in any court room, dining room, or motel room with the disgraced former legislator for the next few decades. (Besides, Wollmann told AP in 2015 that the Flandreau tour “kind of blew my mind,” suggesting his memory might be faulty.)

But why not call Parsley, Hawley, Hawks, or May to testify? They are as reliable as witnesses as anyone else on the tour. The Attorney General may not want to give three Democrats or a maverick Republican any time in the spotlight that his Flandreau exertions will draw, but he seems to have plenty of people he could call to court before entangling a journalist in the proceedings.

South Dakota has no journalist shield law stopping law enforcement from demanding that journalists surrender their confidential sources, but our courts have recognized some journalist privilege from testifying. If a South Dakota court can decline to require testimony from a propaganda blogger concerning confidential sources, the judge in the Hagen trial should afford the same privilege to a real reporter like Ferguson.


  1. Dana P 2017-05-14 08:45

    Couldn’t believe this when I read it. I’m still shaking my head.

    I’m old enough to remember when the eight year chant was “Obama is taking away our freedoms”. (which was always a fake and a fraud. I still have my guns, he didn’t come after them!!) After watching ACTUAL freedoms being eroded since January inauguration and the all out assault on the press and the first amendment? Now this?

    Marty……you don’t need to try to score points this way. You can beat Kristi Noem with one subpoena tied behind your back.

    I hope South Dakota media is paying attention here. This is ridiculous and scary.

  2. Chuck-Z 2017-05-14 11:46

    Not cool. Not cool at all.

  3. Roger Elgersma 2017-05-14 13:00

    But if you were Republican you would understand. They covered for Wollman till he told the press himself and then dropped the investigation when he resigned so the facts would not all get out anyways. So if you have a culture of covering for everything your people know, then you do not subpoena them. You find someone else to do your squealing for you. Just think of the possibility that your own person would say something in court that implied that they were for pot smoking in South Dakota.

  4. Roger Elgersma 2017-05-14 13:05

    If you were Republican you would understand that you do not put your people in a position where they can not cover up their opinion. They covered for Wollman till he told the reporter himself, then they ended the investigation when he resigned so all the facts would not get out. So now if you have legislators who might accidentally mention in court that they were for pot smoking in SD, then you find someone else to subpoena in court.

  5. Roger Elgersma 2017-05-14 13:08

    Republicans cover for their people. They covered for Wollman till he told the reporter himself. Then they dropped the investigation when he resigned so all the facts would not come out. So if your are concerned that one of your legislators would accidentally say in court that they were for pot smoking in SD, they you would get someone else to testify for you.

  6. Roger Cornelius 2017-05-14 13:33

    Sounds a lot like Trump’s war on the media.

  7. jerry 2017-05-14 14:32

    Nailed it Roger, in cult land, that is how you prove your chops. Kool-Aid for all, courtesy of Jackboot Jackley.

  8. Chip 2017-05-15 09:43

    Wow! And this guy is running for Gov!?! Unbelievable….

    I hope My Man Mike throws his hat in the ring.

  9. Roger Elgersma 2017-05-15 13:55

    Sorry about the three repeats, my computer was not working right.

  10. jerry 2017-05-15 15:51

    Now would be a great time for these legislators to challenge Jackboot Jackley on his attack on the free press. They were there as duly elected officials, why are they not speaking out in defense of the reporter to condemn the loss of freedom of the press and all that other stuff republicans are supposed to be for. I would bet the newspaper would even publish some letters condemning this travesty if the legislators were to write them.

  11. Porter Lansing 2017-05-15 16:02

    Good one, Jerry …
    The state portrays itself nationally as a bastion of Scandinavian Uff-Dah when it’s culture and politics are more like the New Fourth Reich. Until South Dakota accepts why it is the way it is (German Jack Boot Politicians sweeping truths under the rug) it’ll not start down the road to the wonderful place it can be.

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