With just days to go until the Senate convenes to try impeached Attorney General and killer Jason Ravnsborg, the Legislative Research Council has finally rearranged the 170+ impeachment documents from a pile of files alphabetized by often opaque filename into a manageable outline by type and topic.
LRC now presents the documents in three main groups: exhibits submitted by the Prosecution, exhibits submitted by the Respondent, and administrative items for the Senate Court of Impeachment.
The administrative items include the appointment and engagement letters for prosecutors Mark Vargo and Ashley Tracy and for Senate President’s counsel Matt Michels. That section posts the subpoenas for the prosecution’s eight law-enforcement witnesses. That section also offers the terse denial of the impeachment allegations and admission of service from Ravnsborg’s attorney, Michael Butler.
We’ve discussed the significant Prosecution documents, which were submitted in timely compliance with the June 1 deadline. The new Respondent documents section includes only four exhibits recently submitted by Butler:
- BCI Report Bates Numbered: This PDF may actually be multiple exhibits: it consists mostly of evidence related directly to Ravnsborg’s vehicular killing of pedestrian Joseph Boever: North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations interviews with Ravnsborg and Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek; a two-page excerpt from the transcript of BCI’s second interview with Ravnsborg on September 30, 2020, showing Ravnsborg’s willingness to take a polygraph test and BCI Special Agent Arnie Rummel’s statement that Ravnsborg has been cooperative “from the beginning”; a few photos of the crime scene, Ravnsborg’s damaged car, and Boever’s lit flashlight, found at the crime scene the morning after Ravnsborg’s crash. This document also includes the South Dakota Supreme Court’s decision in State ex rel. Steffen (2000), in which the Court held that the trial court had discretion to not remove Gregory County Register of Deeds Jerry Peterson for mishandling county funds. (Peterson is not known to have stolen any county funds or used them for personal gain, let alone killed anyone and lied about it like Ravnsborg.)
- Ravnsborg’s September 15, 2020, consent to search his iPhone.
- House Committee Report Bates Numbered: Again, more than what the title suggests, this PDF includes the minutes of the House impeachment investigation hearing minutes from January 18–19 and February 24, 2022, and the majority and minority reports of the committee. Tucked at the bottom of this PDF is Sheriff Volek’s two-page report on the Ravnsborg crash and the discovery the next day of Boever’s corpse at the edge of Highway 14.
- Supreme Court Craig v. Jensen: The Respondent submits this 1938 South Dakota Supreme Court opinion, as does the Prosecution. The 1938 Court upheld the Governor’s authority to remove an appointee for “slight” misconduct. Unbeknownst to those who just read the filename, this PDF also includes Arielle Zionts’s April 19 SDPB report noting that Ravnsborg’s lenient sentence for killing a man with his car is typical of sentences South Dakota courts dish out for such vehicular violence.
The court documents submitted by Butler show print timestamps of June 13 at 6:55 a.m. and 7:01 a.m. We may thus assume that the Respondent submitted these four documents just this week. Thanks to the LRC’s organization of the impeachment documents page, we may now watch for any last-minute submissions, like Ravnsborg’s desperate and sloppy plea to the House the night before the House impeachment vote, before the Senate convenes on Tuesday.