J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California December 3, 2007
The Inherent Right of ALL People to Alter or Reform Government.
The Right Upon Which All Other Rights Depend
Entire South Dakota Supreme Court Recuses Themselves
PIERRE (AP) -- All five justices on the South Dakota Supreme Court have disqualified themselves from hearing an appeal in an open-records lawsuit.
The Argus Leader of Sioux Falls is seeking the names of those invited to last year's Governor's Invitational Pheasant Hunt.
The justices did not give a reason for taking themselves off the appeal, but a lawyer in the case had suggested earlier that the justices might disqualify themselves if they had been invited to the hunt.
Judith Roberts, lawyer for the state's Unified Judicial System, said the justices don't even tell their staff why they disqualify themselves.
Five lower court judges - Glenn Severson, John Bastian, Jack von Wald, Arthur Rusch and Steven Jensen - have been appointed as replacement justices in the case. They could treat the case just as if they were permanent justices, Roberts said.
"It won't affect it at all. The judges that have been appointed to hear the case are veterans. They are well qualified," Roberts said.
The governor uses the annual hunt partly to attract businesses to South Dakota.
In April, Circuit Judge Max Gors ruled that because the state is not required to maintain a list of those invited to the hunt, it is not required to make the list public. The Argus Leader wants the Supreme Court to look at the larger issue of the public's right to know.
"We believe that the heartbeat of any democracy in South Dakota, or anywhere else, is the right of the electorate to know what its government at all levels is doing," Randell Beck, the Argus Leader's executive editor, said Thursday.
The list might be a narrow issue, but the case could open future government actions and make officials more accountable, Beck said.
"It may not directly affect me now, but what about the next time and the time after that?"
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