A South Dakota Roundup

By January 14, 2007Briefly Legal

With the Blogger-in-Chief off visting in the Truck Garden State, we take this opportunity to sneak in more Dakota news.

Yep, still chilly in Bismarck.

And in Pierre, South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson used his State of the Judiciary address to thank the voters for their wisdom in voting down Amendment E last November.

Remember Amendment E, the initiated measure that sought to make judges and other elected officials subject to personal lawsuits for decisions made in their official capacity? South Dakota voters rejected the proposal by an 89-11 percent margin. (But…but….but…a Zogby poll showed that 67 percent of the South Dakotans supported the measure. How could it have failed? Voter fraud! Yeah, that’s it.)

Here at Shopfloor.org and the NAM, we saw passage of Amendment E as an invitation to a flood of frivolous lawsuits, as judges shied away from dismissals or punitive action for fear of retaliation against them as individuals. Turning South Dakota into a statewide “judicial hellhole” would cripple investment and invite similar initiatives around the country.

Speaking to a joint session of the Legislature, Gilbertson said the measure would have brought “catastrophic results” for the judicial system, severely damaging ability of state courts to function fairly and effectively. A useful reminder, we think.

Elsewhere, in landmark trademark news, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office commemorated the one millionth Web-based trademark application, bringing Sioux Falls entreprenuer Donald Junck out to Washington for the festivities. Junck had filed the millionth electronic trademark application last November to protect his trademark, Bait Craft, a tackle box. As the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog noted:

A lifelong fisherman, Junck says he’s built a better mousetrap with his tackle box — it stores 14 fishing leaders without any tangle or knotting. “It’s a huge industry — a $41.2 billion industry,” he says. “And we’re hoping to obtain at least $27 million of that.”

Also honored at Wednesday’s celebration was a great NAM member, Mattel, the nation’s largest corporate filer of trademark applications, and Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, a New York law firm.

Congratulations, all. Good luck, good fishing, and stay warm!

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Bonnie says:

    While South Dakota isn’t big on Judicial Accountability,with judges preferring the public not be made aware of judicial misconduct

    and other states opting for the same,
    Judge Cecava served (?) as past president of the Nebraska Judges Association and on the ‘Task Force’ to http://www2.csc.edu/eyh/speaker/speaker2000.asp
    To Protect Children…something Print reporters have yet to discover;

    there is good accountability news…with lawyers sending in court transcripts.

    Good government is Everyone’s job. Everyone doing their part, means a transparent data-base Consumer’s Report for judges.

    Or, as one businessman quipped,

    “A Dun and Bradstreet on judges – I like it!”


    USAjudges.com is the first public supported, data driven collection
    mechanism available to create and/or purchase reports on judges.


    USAjudges.com answers the public need for accountability. The
    decades old pattern and practice of CJP is to consistently fail to
    protect the public from bad judges; which likewise informs the public of good judges.


    USAjudges.com functions as follows:

    1. Individuals create a short, free report on a particular judge.
    Although this function serves the financially devastated, free
    reports are not verified and as such may or may not be included in
    later reports purchased on a particular jurist.

    2. Individuals create an extremely detailed, in-depth report on a
    judge for a low $45.00 administrative fee. Reports are verified.
    To avoid retaliation, requests for anonymity are honored.

    3. Individuals, reporters, attorneys can purchase a report on a judge,
    commissioner, judge pro tem or magistrate for $150.00.


    Who makes and purchases these reports? Attorneys, members of the
    public. Reporters. Judges. Attorneys made the first reports, verified by court transcripts.

    One attorney’s report included a video clip from a local news crew
    featuring a judge playing computer solitaire during a custody trial.
    Coverage had been removed from the station’s website and shelved
    after a management change. Efforts made by the public to retrieve it
    had been futile.

    Some attorneys reporting merely sent multiple court transcripts.

    One attorney’s report included an original eleven page judicial
    reprimand, since reduced to a one page “Summary” on that state’s

    There’s a lot of satisfaction derived from a $45.00 report. Or, as
    one attorney we called to verify said,

    “I felt so good you could have charged me double.”

    USAjudges.com really shines in area of law and county.
    Unlike the state CJP, a report made at USAjudges.com includes the case
    type, County and the name of the judge complained. CJP reports only
    release case type percentages.
    State reports are constructed in such a way the public is actually prohibited
    from learning whether a particular county has a particular or continuing,
    entrenched problem with one or more jurists in a particular area of law.

    But with USAjudges.com, both the area of law and county is immediately
    visible. Thus entrenched problems in specific counties with specific
    jurists are readily apparent.

    Those wanting good government know participation is the best choice.