Good grief—Marty Jackley can’t even make perjury charges stick on Annette Bosworth.
Yes, yes, the Attorney General’s press release headlines the South Dakota Supreme Court’s upholding of six felony convictions for filing false petitions in the 2014 election, which convictions a hardy corps of South Dakota blog volunteers got rolling back in April 2014. But the rest of the press is headlining the state Supreme Court’s vacation of the felony perjury convictions, accepting the argument from Bosworth’s lawyer that the circulator’s oath that she falsely swore on multiple petition sheets is not part of a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding or action and therefore does not constitute perjury as defined in SDCL 22-29-1.
The Court acknowledges that the same 2002 law that put the words “proceeding” and “action” in the main perjury statute also created a new statute, SDCL 22-29-9.1, that makes it perjury to lie on a petition oath, which Bosworth did. But if I’m reading the Court’s ruling right, because Jackley charged Bosworth under SDCL 22-29-1 and not SDCL 22-29-9.1, and because the Court rejects the Attorney General’s argument that the Legislature intended the latter statute to expand the range of the former, the Court is throwing out the charges.
In other words, Bosworth lied and broke the law, but not the law that Jackley charged her with breaking.
Jackley did prosecute Bosworth under the correct statute, SDCL 22-11-28.1, for filing a false instrument. The Court blew through Bosworth’s smoke about not forging any signatures and submitting what she honestly thought were “petitions signed by voters nominating a candidate for public office” and sticks with the basic fact that “contrary to Bosworth’s verifications, voters did not sign the petitions in her presence.” The Court reaffirms what observers have said all along about Bosworth’s crime—oaths matter:
Prohibiting the knowing filing of instruments containing false statements of fact also comports with SDCL 22-11-28.1’s vital purpose of ensuring that filings with state offices are truthful.6 The presence of false facts in publicly filed documents poses serious concerns regarding the integrity of public records and legal processes. The regulations governing nominating petitions exist to ensure “the integrity of the circulation process, and in turn, the political process.” Cunningham v. Schaeflein, 969 N.E.2d 861, 876 (Ill. App. Ct. 2012). Further, SDCL 22-11-28.1’s purpose underscores what its text suggests: that fraud upon the government may be perpetrated by knowingly filing false instruments as well as forged instruments, and that both types of documents are nongenuine and not properly filed with the State [South Dakota Supreme Court, State v. Bosworth, 2017.07.19].
The Court also rejected Bosworth’s attempt to shift the blame to her campaign manager Patrick Davis for submitting the petitions. The Court held that directing Davis to submit the petitions (which Bosworth admitted she did) “was sufficient to show she offered the petitions for filing.”
Bosworth finished her 500 hours of community service in October 2016. The last I checked, she was still paying off $12,000 in court costs in $50 monthly payments to the state. We will see if reversal of the felony perjury charges results in her stopping payment or perhaps suing for restitution from the state.