Eye-Witness to Judicial Abuse
in South Dakota
Barnett, of the South Dakota State Bar, Challenged to
I for one would
challenge the state bar of South Dakota
to openly debate
the issue of judicial misconduct.
Let's have an honest
and fair debate and let the people
decide the issue. I
think all I am trying to convey to you
is that the issue
needs addressing openly and honestly.
-- David Estes
Mr. Dubow, CEO,
cc: Mr.Arnold Garson,
Manager, The Argus Leader
I understand that you are the CEO of
Gannett Publishing. I am writing to you to voice my concerns about an article
and recent stories appearing in one of your subsidiaries called The Sioux Falls
Argus Leader managed by a Mr. Arnold Garson.
The article in question was written by
a Mr. Thomas Barnett of the South Dakota State Bar and originally appeared in
the Rapid City Journal. The Argus Leader printed the letter on October 16th,
2005. The article itself was about an initiative being circulated in the state
of South Dakota called the South
Dakota Judicial Accountability Initiative which in a nutshell, calls for a
system to monitor the conduct of Judicial authorities.
Normally I would not get upset at
anyone's opinion about a political debate except in this case the claims made by
Mr. Barnett who claims to be the executive director of the South Dakota State
Bar were without merit. Indeed if Mr. Barnett was under oath he would be charged
with perjury. Compounding this error is the fact that your newspaper allowed a
reporter for the Argus Leader to print an article recently which mirrored the
October 16th article by Mr. Barnett. Both articles were not accurate.
Mr. Dubow, there is a national problem
with the misconduct of judges and abuse of power by those in the judicial
system. I personally have seen the abuse. I was a police officer for twenty-five
years and can recite some rather horrendous cases concerning judges.
The initiative in South Dakota is
trying to address the problem of judicial misconduct. The judiciary governs
itself which is unheard of. When abuse occurs, the judges are immune from any
legal reprecussions. Government is accountable to the people. When
accountability to the people ceases then we might as well appoint a king or a
dictator to rule.
It seems to me that a person in your
position who has the ability and responsibility to investigate wrong doing
should not turn a deaf ear to those that are trying in their own way to correct
a problem with our system of government. Judicial abuse needs to be examined and
debated. To me your newspaper is not presenting fair and unbiased information.
Instead it is slanting its coverage in favor of the State Bar and its members.
I for one would challenge the State Bar
of South Dakota to openly debate the issue of judicial misconduct. Let's have an
honest and fair debate and let the people decide the issue. I think all I am
trying to convey to you is that the issue needs addressing openly and honestly.
I hope that you take my opinion into account before any more misinformation is
printed by one of your newspapers. Thank you for your time.
.... I don't know how long you have lived in South Dakota, but I lived
there as a kid. The Deadwood Lead prostitution was in full swing. The judges,
the sheriff and the police were all involved in a tolerance policy. I remember
some years ago that a young prosecuting attorney finally had the balls to shut
the whore houses down.
If anyone thinks that there is not a problem with judges, they only
have to look at Deadwood and Lead to see what has happened in South Dakota in
the past. When I got out of the army in 1966 I went looking for an apartment in
Lead. I ran into the pine rooms. Was going to rent a room, but no one answered
the door. My brother had a good time with that one at my expense. I didn't know
it was a whore house. My brother caught the prosecuting attorney of Strugis
coming out of one of the rooms. The prosecutor made a quick deal to leave my
brother alone. (My brother was always getting into fights).
Anytime anyone tries to tell you that there has not been a problem with
judges in South Dakota, give them my phone number. I will set them
Thanks for the great letter to
The Argus Leader, as well as the Rapid City Journal, seems to
have printed Barnett's rant as opinion, thereby relieving themselves from
any due diligence in checking his veracity.
The good news is that we have
been afforded an equal amount of ink by these newspapers to rebutt
Check this coming Sunday's www.ArgusLeader.com (Click on "Letters") for our rebuttal, which
is below. Hope they don't edit it. I don't think they will, as
they can see there is a chance for bickering, which they need to
sell papers. (Of course it's already
obvious which horse is theirs.)
We, as Barnett, were limited to 500 words.
Gary Zerman and Ron Branson contributed, but the Argus doesn't print more than
one person's name as author.
We are working on a great pot of SD Judicial Accountability stew.
In all fairness, someone should tell Barnett and his gang what spices we still
plan to add! (Hooters invented what they call "Three Mile Island" hot
wings. I invented what I call "Chernobyl Chicken"! Barnett needs to
know we carry our spices in our holsters. Let's
Please read the Initiative, Mr. Barnett
By Bill Stegmeier, Treasurer,
South Dakota Judicial
According to Tom Barnett, Executive
Director of the State Bar of South Dakota, terrible things will happen if the
South Dakota Judicial Accountability Amendment passes.
dire predictions revealed in his October 16th Readers Forum article are
comical. Its apparent he didnt bother to actually read the Initiative
before writing about it.
Barnett wildly claims the Initiative is an
attack on the Legislature, judiciary, etc., and even law
enforcement! Not true. The Initiative does however attack
unlawful conduct of judges, should that occur.
Barnett claims the
Initiative allows seating convicted drug dealers, child pornographers, etc., and
even imprisoned felons on the special grand jury.
What is Barnett
smoking? First off, the Initiative prohibits stacking the jury, let
alone with the miscreants Barnett envisions. Secondly, the Initiative does
not authorize the release of prisoners so they can serve on the
jury. Barnett either made that up or he was misinformed. Here
again, he should have read the initiative before writing about
The Initiative simply seeks to prevent judicial
How many times have you heard the expression No man is
above the law?
Barnetts article sidesteps the reality that judges are in
fact above the law even for malicious and corrupt acts through their
self-made power grab called judicial immunity.
http://www.southdakotajudicialaccountability.com - click
Immunity. Learn the truth about what our judiciary has
Barnett claims that the Proponents admit South Dakota does
not have problems with its judges. Well who really knows? Fact is
the SD judiciary remains a mystery. Try to find information on how to file
a complaint of misconduct against a judge. Call up your local Clerk of
Courts. Chances are they wont know. Search the website of the South
Dakota Unified Judicial System. Nope, nothing there either. Its
like they dont want anyone filing a complaint.
satisfied that here in South Dakota, Ethical violations by a judge are
investigated by the Judicial Qualifications Commission. (Good luck
finding these guys!) If you do find them, you will see that this group is
comprised mostly of judges and lawyers. Hey, wait a minute. Thats
like giving a group of inmates badges, and telling them theyre now
Mr. Barnett says the people can just vote out a bad
judge. Now thats comforting, but it doesnt solve the problem.
Voting a bad judge out provides no immediate remedy to an individual harmed by a
judges judicial misconduct. Furthermore, how would the voters ever learn
about a bad judge, considering the secretive complaint and review process that
is presently in place?
Barnett quips Criminals dont need more
rights. Fine. The Initiative
doesnt give them any more.
Barnett really should read it.
Clearly there is need for judicial
accountability reform here in
South Dakota, as well the rest of the
Read the Initiative at
Youll be one step ahead of