The Department of Justice in Washington D.C. (Getty Images)

Hotel will apologize to Native Americans as part of Justice Department agreement

BY: - November 13, 2023

A woman will step away at least temporarily from the operations of a Rapid City hotel and bar to resolve allegations of discrimination against Native Americans, and the business will also issue a public apology, according the U.S. Department of Justice. The department announced over the weekend that it entered into a consent decree with […]

A sign is posted in front of Meta headquarters on April 28, 2022, in Menlo Park, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

State joins lawsuit accusing Meta of fueling children’s social media addiction

BY: and - October 24, 2023

South Dakota has joined 32 other states in a federal lawsuit that accuses Meta of designing Facebook and Instagram to intentionally addict children and teens, in violation of state and federal laws that protect consumers and children’s online privacy. The states say that Meta knew its platforms psychologically harmed youth but hid those harms and […]

The Brown County Courthouse is located in Aberdeen and is connected to other county offices, such as the Auditor's Office and the Brown County Jail. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Report: State court system fields fewer criminal cases

BY: - October 18, 2023

The number of criminal case filings dropped in South Dakota in fiscal year 2023, continuing a five-year slide in criminal caseloads. The drop in caseloads appears in the state Unified Judicial System’s annual report, released this week. The drop is a contrast from the arrest figures in the state Division of Criminal Investigation’s annual “Crime […]

From left, Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller, South Dakota Secretary of Corrections Kellie Wasko and Ryan Brunner, senior policy adviser and director of legislative relations for Gov. Kristi Noem, participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for a women's prison Oct. 16, 2023, in Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

State breaks ground on $60 million women’s prison in Rapid City

BY: - October 16, 2023

RAPID CITY — While controversy continues over the site of a proposed new penitentiary near Sioux Falls, the state Department of Corrections is proceeding with a plan to build a new women’s prison on the other side of South Dakota. State officials broke ground for the women’s prison Monday in Rapid City. “I’m very happy […]

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Frank Star Comes speaks to reporters Feb. 2023 after the first day of hearings in Oglala Sioux Tribe v. United States. The tribe alleges that the United States has failed their treaty obligations by providing inadequate law enforcement funding. (Photo by Shalom Baer Gee, Rapid City Journal)

Law enforcement issues unresolved following Oglala Lakota lawsuit

BY: - October 13, 2023

A 155-year-old treaty is central to defining what law enforcement services the United States is obligated to provide to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. But questions still remain about what that entails and what it means for the rest of Indian Country. The “Bad Men Clause” within the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the Oceti Sakowin […]

The site selected for the new South Dakota State Penitentiary in Lincoln County. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

State’s selection of prison site upsets Lincoln County neighbors

BY: - October 6, 2023

The multimillion-dollar replacement for the South Dakota State Penitentiary is set to appear on farm ground south of Harrisburg in Lincoln County.  County commissioners have known that the site was under consideration for at least six weeks. Some state lawmakers who represent the area have known for longer. Sarah Ulmer, who lives half a mile […]

The Recovery Runners team prior to the Jack 15 road race on Sept. 23, 2023, in Brookings. (Curt Nettinga, for South Dakota Searchlight)

Running event showcases impact of state’s special courts

BY: - October 2, 2023

BROOKINGS — Brookings resident Gordon Opatz says he was always athletic, but wasn’t a “school athlete.” When life decisions landed him in the Brookings County Drug and DUI Court, he was looking for something he could do to both occupy some time and improve his life. “I started running for some exercise,” Opatz said Sept. […]

The minimum security center of the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, pictured on Feb. 16, 2023. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

State to pay inmate in federal excessive force lawsuit

BY: - September 26, 2023

The state of South Dakota will pay $6,000 to an inmate who represented himself in a lawsuit over his assault by a correctional officer in 2022. The settlement, filed this week in federal court, comes on the heels of a state-level trial at which a jury convicted the officer of simple assault. Shawn Albrecht was […]

The Brown County Courthouse is located in Aberdeen and is connected to other county offices, such as the Auditor's Office and the Brown County Jail. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Booze tax should help pay county legal bills, state senator says

BY: - September 25, 2023

Liquor, beer and wine might offer relief to counties stuck paying for alcohol’s impact on public safety, if a recommendation from a public defense task force becomes law. Sen. Jim Mehlhaff, R-Pierre, would like to see the state dedicate its half of the $18 million collected in alcohol taxes to finance the creation and operation […]

Ruth Esperance, left, and her attorney, Daniel Gebhardt, in front of the federal courthouse in Rapid City. (Courtesy of Daniel Gebhardt/Solomon Law Firm)

Jury awards $400,000 in Black Hills National Forest gender discrimination case

BY: - September 25, 2023

A jury awarded $400,000 in damages Saturday to a former Black Hills National Forest district ranger in her discrimination case against the federal government. The verdict came after a week-long trial in federal court at Rapid City. The jury found in favor of Ruth Esperance’s claim that she suffered gender discrimination. The jury also found […]

Brendan Johnson, head of the business litigation group for Robins Kaplan and former U.S. attorney for South Dakota. (Courtesy of Robins Kaplan)

Q&A: Why Brendan Johnson chose courtrooms over politics

BY: - September 24, 2023

Sioux Falls lawyer Brendan Johnson has a last name that carries a lot of weight in South Dakota political circles. His father, Tim Johnson, was the last Democrat to serve in any statewide elected office from the now-solidly red state. The elder Johnson, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 1997 […]

(Getty Images)

Bar exam problems persist as jobs go unfilled

BY: - September 21, 2023

Chief Justice Steven Jensen’s State of the Judiciary message to the Legislature in January of this year suggested that reduced State Bar licensure rates were no longer a problem in South Dakota. But results of the July bar exam indicate otherwise.   The University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law graduated 59 students in May. […]