Press "Enter" to skip to content

Ravnsborg Defending Angry Dad’s Frivolous Attack Against Deputy Sheriff

Republican Jason Ravnsborg wants to be our Attorney General, the top law enforcement officer in South Dakota. Jason Ravnsborg thus doesn’t want you to know that he’s helping a man attack a law enforcement officer.

So says this motion for expanded media coverage by plaintiff and Jerauld County Deputy Sheriff Dawn Lake:

Apparently this fuss started in December 2015, when Ravnsborg’s client, Doug Johanneson, a frequent offender with a history of “furnishing alcohol to a minor, multiple DUI’s, stalking, violation of a protection order, and false reporting to authorities” asked the court for a protection order from Deputy Lake, who was present when Johanneson picked up his kids (yeah, Johanneson appears to be a divorced dad with custody issues) at the Jerauld County Courthouse in Wessington Springs on October 23, 2015. Lake is grandmother to Johanneson’s children. Apparently when time came for the court hearing on the protection order, Johanneson walked into the courthouse, saw the witnesses lined up to testify in support of Deputy Lake, and decided to “abruptly turn and leave” and “told the clerk of courts he wasn’t going to go forward with the petition.”

Deputy Lake is now trying to win from Johanneson her legal costs for preparing for the aborted protection order hearing. According to the court documents, the case is suppsoed to go to trial on October 4, 2018, giving counsel for the defense Ravnsborg a surely welcome break from the campaign trail and a chance to get back to lawyering. Given the widespread doubt about his courtroom experience compared to his highly qualified opponent, one would think that Ravnsborg would seize this opportunity to demonstrate his efficacy in the courtroom. But as the plaintiff’s motion makes clear, Ravnsborg doesn’t want expanded media coverage of his defense of Johanneson.


  1. Dicta 2018-08-23 08:31

    I loathe, absolutely loathe, Jason Ravnsborg. This article is trash, however. James sees an opportunity to leverage Ravnsborg’s current political run into some media focus and perhaps greater leverage for his client. Ravnsborg very likely doesn’t want media attention because his client aint exactly sympathetic. Trashing people for representing less than stellar clients is something Republicans do, Cory. Be better.

  2. Rorschach 2018-08-23 09:17

    There is no upside to this case for Rvnsbrg. He has a turd for a client and appears to be primarily on defense for this hearing. The press should cover this extensively, regardless of whether cameras are allowed. You can’t blame Rvnsbrg for the actions of his client, but we should all find out whether this inexperienced hobby lawyer is in over his head on a small time case.

  3. Anthony Renli 2018-08-23 09:19

    As much as I hate to defend Ravnsborg on anything.
    Everyone is entitled to a competent and vigorous legal defense in any civil or criminal court proceeding. Picking on a lawyer, ANY lawyer about the moral or ethical character of a client is just wrong.
    So long as he is operating within the bounds of acceptable legal ethics, then who his clients are is not an issue. Every lawyer is going to, at some point, end up with a client who is a piece of $*it. They are going to represent someone who they know is in the wrong (in civil cases) or guilty (in criminal cases). They are STILL required to provide the best representation for their client that they can, and they can’t just drop a client during an active case because they don’t want to represent them.
    I hope he loses the case – and I’m guessing that deep in his heart of hearts he wants the same thing. But he is required to do everything (within the bounds of legal ethics) to win.

  4. Kelly 2018-08-23 12:16

    The hobby lawyer is over his head. He is not a friend of law enforcement, I think that is what Russell and Fitzgerald tried to inform the delegates about. But they selected a man that is over his head and will end up being another Jason Gant.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-23 12:50

    Dicta, Anthony, I agree that every defendant is entitled to good counsel (by which principle, Doug Johanneson is not getting what he deserves). But as Rohr says, Ravnsborg can’t avoid the negatives. Had Jackley won the GOP nomination for governor, he at least would have had a chance of getting some positive press out of his effort to prosecute the GEAR UP figures. The fact that he lost the Huber case would have inevitably reflected poorly on his election chances. As Rohr notes, Ravnsborg is guaranteed bad press from this case no matter what.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-23 12:52

    But if Ravnsborg stands up and makes exactly the case that Dicta and Anthony offer, if he uses this case as a chance to educate South Dakotans about the need to give everyone, even the lowest seeming piece of dirt in the courtroom, fair and effective representation, that would serve the public good, and I would report such comments fully and eagerly.

    Ravnsborg, of course, lacks the legal and rhetorical skill to explain that important principle in a compelling way.

  7. Anne Beal 2018-08-23 12:54

    The majority of any lawyer’s clients are turds, that’s why they need lawyers. That’s why so few lawyers want to be public defenders or criminal defense attorneys.
    Add to that, this seems to be somebody who wants to air her grievances on TV, which is the immediate red flag that her case has no merit at all. Any time you see somebody in front of the cameras, running their mouths, that means their own lawyer knows the case will never be won in court.
    If you have a good case, your lawyer tells you to shut up, let it play out in court. Don’t do any interviews, don’t talk to anybody. If Ravnsborg doesn’t want publicity, that means he’s a good lawyer, with a decent case. That’s all it means.

  8. Dicta 2018-08-23 12:54

    I mean, yes, if he is a terrible attorney, I hope that is exposed. But you began this piece with: “Jason Ravnsborg thus doesn’t want you to know that he’s helping a man attack a law enforcement officer.” That is a crap thing to write and I expect more from you. That is Pat Powers rhetoric. Further, I want an AG who is willing to go after law enforcement officers if they screw up. It is laudable when police do what is right and police their own. As to what Rohr said: I agree with him.

    Please don’t take any of this as an endorsement of Ravnsborg.

  9. Jenny 2018-08-23 14:47

    Such a generalization, Anne! Wanting to talk to the media , wanting to play out your grievances on TV! Kind of all sounds like your turd, Trump, doesn’t it! :)

  10. Anne Beal 2018-08-23 16:19

    Yes Jenny, it does. Trump should shut up. He’s a lawyer’s nightmare of a client, he can’t stop talking or tweeting.

    But these spectacles are played out repeatedly: we have all seen them, people on the talk shows and news reports, telling their sordid side of a civil case, and the other party is silent and invisible. And the silent and invisible party wins in court, and the public, having heard only one side, is indignant. This has the upside for their attorney of raising money to pay off his bill, and getting him lots of publicity to boot.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-23 17:36

    Anne, I would think you would be eager to give a law enforcement officer an opportunity to air her case against an apparent malcontent with a long list of legal infractions. Don’t you support law enforcement, Anne?

  12. Anne Beal 2018-08-23 19:00

    Cory, I thought you were smarter than that.
    This is obviously a domestic dispute between a jerk of a guy and his pissed off ex-mother-in-law. Has nothing to do with law enforcement, it’s just another episode of the Jerry Springer Show.
    She hasn’t got a case but wants publicity so she can start a gofundme page, sucker people into giving her money, and pay her lawyer.
    He, on the other hand, is entitled to legal representation. Any suggestion that he isn’t, which is what you have been indicating, is abhorrent.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-08-23 19:11

    She doesn’t have a case, Anne? Her ex-son-in-law tries to take out a protection order against her, calls the sheriff and falsely claims he has such a protection order in hand, then runs away from the hearing to actually get the protection order when he sees other witnesses there to testify against him. I have to read a lot of speculation into the case to get to your conclusion. I only need to read the facts that Ravnsborg has not disputed to get to my conclusion, that the guy’s effort to get a protection order was frivolous.

    So Anne, is your position that an individual who incurs costs fighting a frivolous action is not entitled to some compensation from the frivolator?

    And notice, Anne, I don’t have to make any claim about your intelligence to make my point and pose my question. I do, however, continue to wonder why you are so willing to side against an honorable law enforcement official in this case.

  14. Ryan 2018-08-27 12:00

    Anne, really? “The majority of any lawyer’s clients are turds, that’s why they need lawyers. That’s why so few lawyers want to be public defenders or criminal defense attorneys.”

    Those are two of the dumbest sentences I have ever seen back-to-back. I’m guessing your assumptions are not based on any real conversations with lawyers, huh? I think you might watch too much TV.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.