Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are displayed before a press conference regarding a major drug bust, at the office of the New York Attorney General, Sept. 23, 2016, in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Mexican cartel targeted by Biden administration in multiple fentanyl indictments

BY: - April 14, 2023

WASHINGTON — As illicit fentanyl seizures reach record numbers, the Biden administration on Friday announced “government-wide efforts” to counter narcotics trafficking, including criminally charging members of the Sinaloa Cartel operating out of Mexico, and sanctioning Chinese producers of the chemicals used to make the synthetic drug. The Department of Justice unsealed indictments alleging fentanyl trafficking, […]

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocks limits to abortion pill access

BY: - April 14, 2023

UPDATED 5:25 p.m. Central, 4/14/23 WASHINGTON — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has temporarily halted any changes in access to the abortion medication mifepristone from taking effect until Wednesday at midnight.  The one-page order from Alito, issued late Friday afternoon, will block for now the April 7 ruling from the U.S. District Court for […]

(Getty Images)

U.S. Justice Department to ask Supreme Court to reject limits on access to abortion pill

BY: and - April 13, 2023

UPDATED 2 p.m. Central, 4/13/23 WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday it will ask the Supreme Court on an emergency basis to keep access to the abortion medication mifepristone exactly as it is now, amid the appeals process in a much-watched case out of Texas. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement […]

Missing persons posters for Robert "Berta" Enoch, who died shortly after being arrested on April 3, 2023. (Submitted photos)

Family left with questions after man dies in custody of rural sheriff’s office

BY: - April 12, 2023

State investigators are reviewing the death of a man shortly after his arrest on April 3 by Charles Mix County sheriff’s deputies. Friends of 35-year-old Robert Dennis “Berta” Enoch have a host of questions about how someone who’d expressed a desire to get well and had secured a place at a treatment center just days […]

A stock dam reflects the clear blue sky of spring and rolling grasslands of the Great Plains near White River, South Dakota. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Federal judge temporarily blocks new Biden WOTUS rule in two dozen states

BY: - April 12, 2023

A federal judge in North Dakota on Wednesday blocked in 24 states — including South Dakota — the Biden administration’s newly effective definition of waters that can be regulated under the Clean Water Act. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland, a George W. Bush appointee on retired status in the North Dakota District, issued a preliminary […]

The Hughes County Courthouse in Pierre, pictured in November 2022. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Former legislative candidate sentenced to 10 years for incest

BY: - April 11, 2023

Former legislative candidate Joel Koskan was sentenced to 10 years in state prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to two felony counts of incest, according to the Attorney General’s Office. The charges stemmed from sexual activity with an adopted child. Charges were filed against Koskan in November, just days before the general election in which […]

(Getty Images)

Biden administration appeals judge’s ruling ordering abortion pill off U.S. market

BY: - April 7, 2023

UPDATED 9 p.m. Central, 4/7/23 WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice launched an appeals process Friday that will likely put a landmark decision about access to medication abortion in front of the Supreme Court.  The notice of appeal was filed less than three hours after a federal judge in Texas revoked the U.S. Food […]

An inmate seeks a commutation recommendation from the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles on Feb. 16, 2023, at the Jameson Annex of the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. The inmate is addressing Board Chair Myron Rau. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Parolee cited for exhibition driving after Noem reduces vehicular homicide sentence

BY: - April 7, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story about commutations is part of a special report on executive clemency. An additional story explores pardons, and a commentary outlines difficulties encountered in obtaining pardon records. — A man who committed vehicular homicide in the 1990s pleaded guilty to exhibition driving last summer, six months after a state board granted him […]

(Illustration by Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

When emails aren’t ‘writing,’ and other adventures in pursuit of pardon records

BY: - April 7, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary about public records is part of a special report on executive clemency. Additional stories explore pardons and commutations. — As a journalist with more than two decades of experience, I thought I’d experienced every way a bureaucrat could make a public records request difficult. That was until I asked for pardon […]

South Dakota Supreme Court Justice Janine Kern speaks during oral arguments March 22, 2023, in Brookings. Also pictured are Justice Scott Myren, left, and Chief Justice Steven Jensen. (Dave Bordewyk/South Dakota Newspaper Association)

Supreme Court: Release T. Denny Sanford court records

BY: - April 6, 2023

Court records ought to be released to the public that could finally shed light on why the property of South Dakota’s richest man was searched as part of a child pornography investigation, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. It’s the second loss in a row at the state’s high court for T. Denny […]

Marianne Sinisi, of Altoona, Pennsylvania, lost her 26-year-old son, Shawn, to an opioid overdose in 2018. She wants the opioid settlement dollars to be spent in ways that help spare other parents similar grief. (Nancy Andrews for KHN)

$50 billion in opioid settlement cash is on the way. We’re tracking how it’s spent.

BY: - April 3, 2023

More than $50 billion in settlement funds is being delivered to thousands of state and local governments from companies accused of flooding their communities with opioid painkillers that have left millions addicted or dead. That’s an enormous amount of money — double NASA’s budget and five times the revenue of an NBA season. But how […]

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)

South Dakota one of few states to saddle counties with public defense costs

BY: - March 31, 2023

All U.S. citizens have a right to an attorney when charged with a crime, even if they can’t afford one.  Only 11 states, including South Dakota, use local rather than state dollars to pay for the vast majority of public defense. Just one state relies more heavily on counties to pay the cost than South […]