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Judge Kornmann Wants to Hear SD Voice v. Noem II Before Christmas

It looks like I’ll see the Attorney General’s people in court again this year.

In the “Report of Rule 26(f) Meeting” filed last week in SD Voice v. Noem II, plaintiffs’ attorney James Leach of Rapid City and Assistant Attorney General Holly R. Farris proposed finishing discovery by January 15, 2020, and filing all dispositive motions by March 1, 2020. They proposed the trial proceed shortly thereafter.

Judge Charles Kornmann says nuts to that. Perhaps not wanting arguments about the state’s efforts to suppress initiative and referendum troubling either his winter sojourn in Florida or his already busy 2020 docket, Judge Kornmann told the parties that he will hear this case this year:

Judge Charles Kornmann, memo to counsel, SD Voice v Noem II, 2019.09.13.
Judge Charles Kornmann, memo to counsel, SD Voice v Noem II, 2019.09.13.

The proposed schedule is not acceptable. This is more than a run of the mill case since it involves questions of public interest. The questions posed should be answered soon so all concerned know what the state of the law is. As a Senior Judge, I set my work schedule to allow me to be in Florida much of the Winter. I will not be available after Christmas until early May and, when I return, I am swamped by criminal cases and other civil cases.

I intend to try this case in 2019 and will expedite my decision [Judge Charles Kornmann, memo to counsel, SD Voice v Noem II, 2019.09.13].

Far be it from me to disagree with the court. The obstructions the South Dakota Legislature has thrown in the way of popular democracy are indeed pressing matters of public interest. I will be happy to see my questions about the constitutionality of petition circulator registries and badges and early petition submission dates answered as quickly as possible.

So bring on that early court date! I can’t think of a better Christmas to get for my beloved state than restoring our right to petition our government and have a say on the laws under which we live.


  1. Jake Kammerer 2019-09-16 14:53

    Wow! Rejoice all-that this part of our government is clicking along right well and has the PEOPLES
    best and foremost interests up front! Thank you Cory -and Jim Leach-for what you do.

  2. Donald Pay 2019-09-16 16:55

    I agree with an expedited schedule. Without prejudging what Kornmann may decide, a decision made before the legislative session would give the Legislature a chance to do the right thing and repeal and re-work their concerns into something better for the 2020 session. I really do think there is a way to accomplish some of what legislature is concerned in a way that is constitutional and much more efficient.

    It’s not as if people who have brought initiatives don’t have some ideas to address these concerns. I share some of their concerns, but I have a number of ideas, and I know others do, that would be better than the mess of unconstitutionality that the Legislature passed.

    So, it’s better to know the outcome, and be able to plan around whatever is decided. Whether these statutes are federally unconstitutional or not, they may be against the South Dakota Constitution. Kornmann won’t be deciding that matter.

  3. Debbo 2019-09-16 17:47

    Good news for the people of SD. Any sense of what the state is going to claim or what the judge may decide?

  4. John 2019-09-16 18:21

    Most federal judges, such as Judge Kornmann, remain a shining North Star in our distraught body politic. Succinct. Declarative.

  5. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-09-16 21:13

    They wanted a jury trial. Fer cryin’ out in the night! They thought they could find a bunch of Republinuts who would see things their way. I doubt it would have worked out for ’em, but Kornmann set ’em straight, anyway.

  6. grudznick 2019-09-16 21:20

    You going down to Charles’ place in FL again this winter, Bob?

  7. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-09-16 22:28

    No. I wouldn’t want to run into you.

  8. Jenny 2019-09-17 06:07

    You tell him,CIRD!

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-09-17 12:43

    Donald, good point about clarifying this matter before the 2020 Legislature convenes. They’re sure to have some more tricks in the chute for the initiative and referendum process anyway; if Judge Kornmann acts on the schedule he appears inclined to follow, all parties will be able to walk into the debate about new legislation with better guidance as to what’s constitutional and what isn’t.

  10. Porter Lansing 2019-09-17 12:55

    grudzie’s winter … Charles’ Place Dementia Care
    Charles’ Place is a memory care provider in Rockledge, FL. The staff at Charles’ Place provide supervision and are able to remind residents to attend to activities of daily living such as grooming and toileting. *And, that’s important stuff, g-rudge

  11. leslie 2019-09-17 14:47

    good rule of thumb-don’t piss off a federal judge handling your case. P. Duffy

    Kornmann may not appreciate his correspondence splashed around the cyber world. Even bubba trump is afraid of a federal judge, now.

  12. John 2019-09-17 17:07

    I see the petitions are due one year prior to the election provision is not just in this challenged statute but in the state constitution….that seems to strengthen that provision plus the case Cory cited seemed to uphold similar restrictions as reasonable by the states…

    I am predicting a split decision …thoughts?

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-09-18 19:08

    John Dale, I believe you are mistaken. I know of no provision in the state constitution setting the deadline for initiative petitions. That deadline exists solely in statute. But cite the Article+Section you’re reading, and I’ll check.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-09-18 19:10

    Court date has been set for December 9 here in Aberdeen. Let’s hope for no snowstorms that week!

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