Posts Tagged ‘law’

A Silver Bond for Christmas

Posted: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 12:44 pm
By: Tim Gebhart
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Former state legislator and current prison inmate Ted Klaudt is continuing the otherworldly efforts that recently led to his federal lawsuit against the state officials and the state judiciary being dismissed as “frivolous” and “meritless.” Seems now that “Ted a. Klaudt©, NON-CORPORATE ENTITY, (without the U.S. 28 USC § 1746(1)) Inventor” says he is posting a “Silver Bond to discharge and vacate” all his state court criminal convictions.

This week Klaudt filed a notice in federal court dated December 22 that he will be filing the Silver Bond. A Silver Bond is another of the many myths of some in the so-called Patriot movement, in whose Kool-Aid Klaudt is now eyeball deep. According to material too bat-crap crazy to link to, a Silver Bond is evidently a pledge of 21 Dollars “in silver Coin, minted by the American Treasury (at legal and lawful 24 to 1 ratio prescribed by law) united States of America, Lawful coin Dollars of the united States of America, personally held in [the pledgor’s] ownership and possession.”

Since we don’t know in what manner Klaudt holds his lawful coin dollars, perhaps federal court clerk Joseph Haas is lucky the Silver Bond is a piece of paper. In it, Klaudt directs that Haas is “responsible for loading and delivering the cargo, i.e. the Silver Bond, to the appropriate person(s)” to vacate Klaudt’s convictions. Although Klaudt says a copy of the Silver Bond itself will be sent separately, it is unclear whether it is Haas’ job to load and deliver it to his own office.

In Klaudt’s legal universe, the State has 10 days after receipt of this notice to object. If it does not, Haas then has only five more days within which to see that Klaudt is discharged. So, if reality is as loony as Klaudt’s world, he will be on the street by mid-January.

Who knew you could vacate a prison sentence for only $21? Evidently only people as smart as Klaudt, a man who somehow served four terms in the state House, running three times unopposed and serving on the Appropriations Committee, before being term-limited and losing a state Senate race 54 percent to 46 percent.

Madison Central Violating Election Law?

Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 7:01 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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The more I think about Madison Central School District’s proposed early voting scheme, the more uneasy I get. Beyond creating the awkwardness of voting on a new gym while surrounded by maroon-clad Bulldog basketball fans, the school district may be arranging early-voting that violated state election law.

The school district is offering four means of early voting in the upcoming bond election (I quote verbatim from their PDF):

  • By mail
  • At the business manager’s office in the high school at 800 NE 9th St.
  • At many events and community locations prior to the election.
  • Anyone who wishes to have early voting conducted at their business for their employees can contact the business office at 256-7710 for more information.

Vote by mail? No problem.

Vote at the school business office? Probably not a problem.

Voting at a school event? Problem.

Voting arranged by bosses for employees at workplaces? Big problem.

First, the school offers no reliable list of early-voting polling places. When and where exactly are the school events where voting will be possible? Will Cindy Callies have ballots on hand at every public event at the school? Or will the school district only break out the ballots at sporting events when they see lots of backers of the 2007 new gym project? Will the school avoid setting up a voting booth at, say, the public one-act performance in January, where they might encounter a number of arts supporters who feel the current $16.98 million plan still puts too much emphasis on athletics over academics?

Same with community events: when and where? Given South Dakota’s overwhelming concern with protecting the secret ballot, perhaps a concerned citizen would want to observe the balloting to ensure voters’ rights are protected. How can a poll watcher keep track of the voting if the school is doing it in undisclosed locations?

Arranging voting sessions at employers’ requests at workplaces smells bad, if not worse. State law entitles employees to two hours off work to vote. Letting bosses arrange in-house voting skirts that requirement (mark your circles, then back to work, slaves!). Worse, it opens the door for all sorts of workplace intimidation: Imagine the boss walking in, saying, “O.K., who wants a ballot to vote on the school bond issue?” and then conspicuously noting with a scowl those who don’t take a ballot, presuming to exercise their right to vote in private.

And imagine, just imagine, that employer were Madison Central School District. Principal calls a staff meeting, says, “Hey everyone! Cindy’s here so you can all vote!” and hands out ballots.

I don’t think principals Knowlton, Koch, or Walsh would do such a foolish thing. I hope every boss in town is that prudent. If employees want to vote, employees can request their absentee ballots individually or come to the polls on their own, on official leave as permitted by state law. Their bosses should have no involvement in their voting.

I support early voting and absentee voting. I support government efforts to get more people to vote.

But I also support following the spirit and letter of election law to protect voter rights and ensure complete fairness. The Madison Central School District needs to clarify and likely scale back its early voting plan to ensure its compliance with election law.

And remember, fellow voters: no Bulldog jackets at the polls.

Statute relevant to early voting in the school bond election:

  • SDCL 12-18-1 requires that “All voting at the polling place shall be in private voting booths or compartments and, except as provided in § 12-18-25, shall be screened from observation.”
  • SDCL 12-18-3 says that, at a polling place, no one may “display campaign posters, signs, or other campaign materials or by any like means solicit any votes for or against any person or political party or position on a question submitted or which may be submitted.”
  • SDCL 12-18-9.2 authorizes and requires election officials and the cops to remove any materials violating SDCL 12-18-3 and arrest anyone committing such violations.
  • SDCL 12-18-9 dictates that “Any person, except a candidate who is on the ballot being voted on at that polling place, may be present at any polling place for the purpose of observing the voting process.” Rather difficult to do unless the school publishes a complete list of places, dates, and times where the voting process is taking place.
  • SDCL 12-19-2.1 has a couple of goodies on absentee ballots:
    • To get an absentee ballot, you “may apply in person to the person in charge of the election.” That means one person, Cindy Callies, can legally hand you an absentee ballot. KJAM is reporting Monica Campbell will have ballots; I’m still looking for the statute that authorizes an “election assistant” to distribute absentee ballots.
    • A third party can deliver an absentee ballot is if the voter (a) is confined “because of sickness or disability,” (b) applies in writing, and (c) designates an authorized messenger to carry the ballot.
  • SDCL 12-19-7.2 makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor for any authorized messenger to, “in the presence of the voter at or before the time of voting, display campaign posters, signs, or other campaign materials or by any like means solicit any votes for or against any person, political party, or position on a question submitted.”
  • SDCL 12-1-2 says that all of these Title 12 provisions “apply to township, municipal, school, and other subdivision elections unless otherwise provided by the statutes specifically governing their elections or this title.” I haven’t found any exceptions for school bond elections in Title 13.
  • SDCL 13-7-14 says “Absentee voting shall be permitted in school district elections, including school district bond elections. The school board, with the approval of the county auditor and board of county commissioners, may permit absentee ballots to be voted at the county auditor’s office in the county of jurisdiction.”

Feds Drop Ball on River Law: Time for SD to Enforce!

Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 7:24 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Rebecca Terk points out we have our own need for some Arizona-style, federal-authority-usurping legislation right here in South Dakota. She noted that on the Missouri River near her home, people break the law regularly by running jet skis in the restricted waters of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. The National Park Service banned personal watercraft from WSRA-designated stretches of the Missouri in 2000, citing damage to wildlife, oil pollution, conflict with other more mellow recreationists, noise pollution (hear hear!), and high accident and injury rates. But the jetskiers keep rop-rop-roaring along the protected waterway in flagrant violation of federal law.

Terk says she has contacted the local heat to go after these lawbreakers. Their response: yup, they’re illegal, but we can’t touch ‘em. Only a federal agent can enforce federal law, and the National Park Service hasn’t even stationed a ranger in the area.

Well, who are we to let a little thing like federal jurisdiction stop us from enforcing the laws of the land? South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is filing a friend of the court brief supporting Arizona’s effort to usurp federal authority on immigration law. AG Jackley justifies our state’s involvement by saying illegal immigration “is really a public safety issue.” GOP House candidate Kristi Noem favors expanding state government power to enforce laws when the feds fail to do so.

When the 2011 South Dakota Legislature gets on its high horse and puts off working on the budget to pass grandstanding legislation on immigration (and they’re already chomping at the bit to do so), they should consider expanding any such proposal to a general declaration that South Dakota’s sheriffs, city cops, Highway Patrol, and game wardens will gladly enforce any law that the federal government isn’t… including the ban on jet skis on the Missouri downstream from Yankton.

After all, our support for Arizona’s immigration law isn’t just about those darned Mexicans. It’s about our unwavering support for the rule of law and strong government… right?

Bonus Fun Fact: Congressman John Thune was outraged when this ban was announced in 2000. He demanded the National Park Service reopen the issue for public comment. NPS did so. 82% of the folks who commented supported the ban.

How (not) to teach ethics and integrity

Posted: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm
By: Tim Gebhart
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Maybe this is an old fart rant or another display of naïveté but some things really do outrage me. The latest is the NYT article about at least one law school applying “do as I say, not as I do” to accountability and honesty.

According to the article, Loyola Law School Los Angeles is “retroactively inflating its grades, tacking on 0.333 to every grade recorded in the last few years. The goal is to make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market.” At the outset, it seems a bit ironic that this is coming from a law school that prides itself on being a Catholic institution whose mission includes “educat[ing] men and women who will be leaders of both the legal profession and society, demonstrating in their practice of law and public service the highest standards of personal integrity [and] professional ethics.”

Where, I wonder, does integrity and ethics fit in with giving false information to potential employers and falsifying student records? (Before someone thinks I use the term “falsify” too loosely, among its definitions is “To make false by altering or adding to.” If a student’s official transcript shows a 3.1 grade in a class, doesn’t changing it to a 3.4 make it false?)

But irony aside, Loyola isn’t alone. The article indicates that over the last several years “at least 10 law schools have deliberately changed their grading systems to make them more lenient,” including schools like New York University, Georgetown, UCLA, USC and Vanderbilt. The story is unclear whether any of these schools made retroactive changes in grades, which certainly seems far more ethically questionable.

And why do these law schools engage in these practices? “Law schools seem to view higher grades as one way to rescue their students from the tough economic climate — and perhaps more to the point, to protect their own reputations and rankings.” I guess in the view of those law schools that means integrity and honesty consists of holding students to a lesser standard or that a particular score in a class wasn’t really the score.

Sure, society can say this simply reflects grade inflation (excuse me, “grade reform”) throughout the education system and that the legal job market focuses too much on grades than the person. But how in the world can law schools profess to stand for integrity, ethics and honesty if they have no compunction about altering grades retroactively?

Yet another giant leap forward in the public perception of the legal profession.

Constitution Party: Whiners

Posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 6:01 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Today’s Wienie Award goes to the South Dakota Constitution Party. They could only get a hundred-some of their 345 registered members to sign petitions to put their gubernatorial and Congressional placeholders on the ballot. (The CP is at 328 members as of May 24.) So they are suing Secretary of State Chris Nelson and the State of South Dakota, saying the 250-signature minimum requirement for statewide candidates is unconstitutional.

I would suggest that instead of turning to activist judges to overturn the law, the Constitution Party concentrate on offering viable candidates and reaonable political philosophy that might draw more than 0.06% of eligible South Dakota residents to join their party.

But maybe I should cut the Constitution Party some slack. Let them win their lawsuit. Let the court require South Dakota set proportional signature requirements for even the smallest parties. Then Bill Fleming, Sam Hurst, Kevin Weiland, and I will get together, resurrect the Socialist Party of South Dakota (we’ll call ourselves Pettigrew’s Pirates and meet at the Prairie Village Socialist Hall), and run one of us for governor every cycle. Yahoo!

FDA: Food Nazis at Work?

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 11:08 pm
By: RadioActive Chief
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Here’s everybody’s favorite big government showing some of its true colors again.

Raw milk battle reveals FDA abandonment of basic human right to choose your food

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), an organization whose mission includes “defending the rights and broadening the freedoms of family farms and protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods”, recently filed a lawsuit against the FDA for its ban on interstate sales of raw milk. The suit alleges that such a restriction is a direct violation of the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the suit led to a surprisingly cold response from the FDA about its views on food freedom (and freedoms in general).

In a dismissal notice issued to the Iowa District Court where the suit was filed, the FDA officially made public its views on health and food freedom.

Some of the statements in the FDA’s filing are absolutely amazing. Can you say “food NAZI”?

The FDA essentially believes that nobody has the right to choose what to eat or drink. You are only “allowed” to eat or drink what the FDA gives you permission to. There is no inherent right or God-given right to consume any foods from nature without the FDA’s consent.

This is no exaggeration. It’s exactly what the FDA said in its own words.

Don’t take MY word for it, or even the words from the posting about this. Consider the following statements taken from the FDA’s court filing:

“There is no ‘deeply rooted’ historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.” [p. 26]“Plaintiffs’ assertion of a ‘fundamental right to their own bodily and physical health, which includes what foods they do and do not choose to consume for themselves and their families’ is similarly unavailing because plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.” [p.26]

There’s a lot more in the document, which primarily addresses the raw milk issue, but these statements alone clearly reveal how the FDA views the concept of health freedom. Essentially, the FDA does not believe in health freedom at all. It believes that it is the only entity granted the authority to decide for you what you are able to eat and drink.

The State, in other words, may override your food decisions and deny you free access to the foods and beverages you wish to consume. And the State may do this for completely unscientific reasons — even just political reasons — all at their whim…

This has all emerged from the debate over whether raw milk sales should be legal. But the commonsense answer seems obvious: Of course raw milk should be legal! Since when did the government have any right to criminalize a farmer milking his cow and selling the raw, unpasteurized milk to his neighbor at a mutually-agreeable price?

NOTE: The principles apply whether or not one chooses to partake of raw milk, any particular food product.

But why is the FDA hell-bent on stopping raw milk from being sold in the first place? Think about it: What is it about this particular whole food that has regulators working overtime to make sure you don’t drink it?

Follow the money…(surprise, surprise, surprise!)

The real reason why the FDA opposes raw milk is because Big Dairy opposes raw milk. Just like Big Pharma, Big Dairy has worked very hard behind the scenes to steer FDA policy in its favor. And according to some recent reports, Big Dairy is one of the primary forces trying to eliminate raw milk because it threatens the commercial milk business.

What’s next? Will all farmer’s markets be outlawed because the veggies haven’t all been irradiated or pasteurized?

As usual, it’s all about the money, and as you follow the money trail all the way up to the federal level, you find the same thing happening everywhere: At the FDA, USDA, FTC and so on. U.S. government regulators have become monopoly market enforcers for Big Business, and they won’t let anything get in their way… not even personal health freedoms or just basic access to food.

There is a lot more detailed argument in the posting; you get the picture…but wait! As a finale the FDA outdoes itself again:
On page 27 of the dismissal, the FDA also states that Americans do not have a fundamental right to enter into private contractual agreements with one another, either.

Buying clubs, cooperatives and community supported agriculture programs (CSAs) all rely on private contractual agreements in order to operate. People contract with each other to obtain clean, healthy food from the sources of their choice without government intrusion. But now the FDA is saying that people don’t actually have this right. To enter into such a private contract to purchase food, milk or even water is a violation of federal law, the FDA now claims.

You are just a subject of the King, you see, and you have no rights. You must eat and drink what you are told. You must behave in a way that is allowed by your King. You have no rights, no protections and no freedoms….

The “substantive due process” clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, however, assures people of this right when it states that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” And being able to make personal food choices without having to obtain permission from Big Brother is definitely included under this clause.

But the FDA — aw, heck, all of Washington for that matter — doesn’t honor the U.S. Constitution in any way, shape or form. The document is little more than a tattered piece of American history according to the Nazi nut jobs running federal agencies today. They are no more likely to respect the Constitution as they are to leap from their desk job chairs and magically transform into flying elephants.

The hits just keeps on coming! (Or are the letters of the second word in the previous sentence in the wrong order? Whatever!)

FTC completes first “blog-ola” investigation

Posted: Monday, May 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm
By: Tim Gebhart
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Last December 1, blogs were explicitly brought within the scope of updated Federal Trade Commission guidelines on rules governing the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. The FTC last month quietly posted on its web site the “closing letter” of its first investigation involving blogs under the rules.

The FTC investigated whether the Ann Taylor Stores Corp. violated the law in connection with providing gifts to bloggers who the company expected would post about the company’s LOFT division. In its April 20 closing letter, the FTC staff said it had decided “not to recommend enforcement action at this time.”

The investigation stemmed from LOFT providing gifts to bloggers who attended a January 26 “Exclusive Blogger Preview!” of LOFT’s Summer 2010 collection. The invitation said bloggers attending would receive a special gift and be entered in a “mystery gift card drawing.” In smaller print, the invitation said any blog coverage had to appear within 24 hours and links had to be sent to LOFT to be eligible for gift cards ranging from $10 to $500. The FTC guidelines require bloggers who receive a free or discounted product or service in exchange for writing a review to disclose that fact.

According to reports, 31 bloggers attended the event and all received gift cards. According to the FTC, only a very small number of bloggers posted anything about the preview, and several of them disclosed that LOFT had provided them gifts. Also working in LOFT’s favor was that it adopted a written policy after the event that it will not issue gifts to any blogger without first telling the blogger they must disclose the gift on his or her blog. “The FTC staff expects that LOFT will both honor that written policy and take reasonable steps to monitor bloggers’ compliance with the obligation to disclose gifts they receive from LOFT,” the closing letter said.

In typical government fashion, the letter noted that the decision not to take further steps “is not to be construed as a determination that a violation may not have occurred, just as the pendency of an investigation should not be construed as a determination that a violation has occurred.” In other words, we’re not saying you did or didn’t violate the law but we’re watching you.

This is the first public disclosure of an investigation involving bloggers under the updated guidelines. Undoubtedly, it stemmed in part from mainstream and fashion press coverage before and after the event. Some of the coverage directly asked whether this violated the new regulations, almost inviting the FTC to investigate. Yet the letter also appears to support the FTC’s statement before the updated guidelines were adopted that it would pursue the advertisers, not individual bloggers.

Frankly, then, the closing letter shouldn’t prompt a new round of uproar in the blogging community. Still, the fact there was an investigation and a public letter on it indicates that blogs are on the FTC’s radar and that bloggers need to be cognizant of that fact. Moreover, corporations who see social media as a vehicle for advertising and endorsements better be putting policies in place and making sure they are following the regulations.

Is violence the legal equivalent of obscenity?

Posted: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 1:13 pm
By: Tim Gebhart
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Whether violence is a functional equivalent of obscenity may be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Yesterday, the Court agreed to rule on the constitutionality of a California law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, a law predicated in part on the Court’s obscenity jurisprudence.

The California statute defines a violent video game in part as one in which a player can kill, maim, dismember or sexually assault an image of a human being if those acts are depicted in a manner that a reasonable person would find appeals to “a deviant or morbid interest” of minors, is “patently offensive” to prevailing community standards of what is suitable for minors, and causes the game as a whole to lack “serious, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.” The quoted language echoes the Court’s prior definitions of obscenity. Similar language was used in a statute the Supreme Court upheld in 1968 in Ginsberg v. New York, where it said material constitutionally protected for adults could be deemed obscene for minors. Although the Court said it was not ruling on “the totality” of regulating First Amendment values when it comes to minors, California is urging the Court use the case to uphold the video game law.

The law was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, 2006, but was blocked by a federal court. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that it would not extend Ginsberg beyond obscenity cases and found the law unconstitutional. Although six other states have adopted similar laws, all have been blocked by the courts after being challenged.

Interestingly, the decision to review the case comes the week after an 8-1 decision holding unconstitutional a federal law banning so-called “crush videos,” videos featuring the intentional torture and killing of helpless animals. That law created an exception for videos with “serious religious, political,scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value.” The Court rejected the government’s argument that, like obscenity, such videos should not be entitled to First Amendment protection, akin to what California is arguing in the video game case. It said it has never held that the “serious value” of expression was a precondition to being protected by the First Amendment.

As a result, the California case appears to be asking whether violence is the equivalent of obscenity for First Amendment purposes, at least insofar as minors are concerned. Personally, I’ve long said we’d be far better off if parents were more concerned about the amount of violence their children see than whether they see others display their “private parts.” That does not, however, translate into believing someone else’s freedom of expression should be restricted because some fail in their parental duties.

Republican Wyatt Runs as Independent for Sheriff

Posted: Monday, April 5, 2010 at 6:58 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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While checking the Secretary of State’s candidate list for third-party candidates, I did find one of the few Independents filed right here in Lake County. Then an eager reader forwarded me his website: Dan Wyatt for Lake County Sheriff.

Dan Wyatt, Madison SD Patrolman, candidate for Lake County  SheriffOfficer Dan Wyatt, candidate for Lake County Sheriff

Wyatt, currently a patrolman for the Madison Police Department, identifies himself as a Republican, a Christian Conservative, and a member of the local 9-12 Glenn Beck fan club. I get a little itchy when I hear any political candidate touting his piety. More importantly, given that the 9-12ers support nullification and secession, I will need to hear Dan affirm that as a law enforcement officer he will reject Calhoun conservatism and recognize the primacy of federal law over state law.

But why would this Republican run as an Independent? Wyatt likely wants to broaden the electorate and avoid what happened last time he challenged incumbent Roger Hartman for the job. In 2006, Wyatt ran as a Republican and was defeated by Hartman in the Republican primary. Since no Democrat filed for the job, the Republicans had sole say on who became sheriff. This disenfranchisement of local Democrats and Independents bothered a lot of people. It certainly made me see the harm in not designating sheriff and perhaps other local government positions as non-partisan.

Instead of once again allowing just 45% of the Lake County electorate pick the sheriff, Wyatt has more than doubled the number of people who get to vote on our county’s top cop, just by filing as an Independent.

That desire for more public participation also figures in Wyatt’s campaign promises for a new style of sheriffing:

My campaign is simply one of positive change in the way the Sheriff’s office conducts business… I will be a visible, out in the public eye, working Sheriff. You will see me out in the communities of Lake County. I will seek your input, your suggestions and you can always expect a honest answer if you have a question. I ask that you invite me to your organizational meetings, your township meetings and if you want contact me, we can set something up [Dan Wyatt, campaign website].

Wyatt also appears ready to throw punches in this local race:

Currently the office is held by an incumbent who has lost his ambition to do all that he can for the office and the residents of Lake County. He has publically stated twice before that he was not seeking the Sheriff office again… and then changed his mind.. I point this out because sometimes the old way of doing business is not always the best way. This is especially true in the business of Law Enforcement. It is time for a change [Dan Wyatt, campaign website].

Looks like we’re in for an interesting discussion of the future of law enforcement in Lake County… a conversation that, this time around, will last to November and involve all Lake County voters.

Group ranks South Dakota high in litigation “fairness”

Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 6:53 am
By: Tim Gebhart
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Often finding itself low in national rankings on items from teacher salaries to average annual pay, South Dakota made the top ten in a new ranking out this week. It is 10th among all 50 states in “the fairness of its litigation environment.”

Of course, all rankings should be taken with a grain of salt. Here, that grain is the source of the rankings: the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that spends $20 million a year lobbying for “tort reform.” That isn’t to say there is anything inherently wrong with the organization; it’s just that it has a specific perspective on “fairness.”

At the same time, the rankings, obtained from a survey conducted by Harris Interactive from October 2009 to January 2010, doesn’t hide its approach. It notes that the survey was conducted “to explore how reasonable and balanced the states’ tort liability systems are perceived to be by U.S. business. Participants in the survey were comprised of a sample of 1,482 in-house general counsel, senior litigators or attorneys, and other senior executives who indicated they are knowledgeable about litigation matters at companies with at least $100 million in annual revenues.”

I don’t think that sample group likely has the same views as those of members of, say, the American Trial Lawyers Association or a consumer activist group. Again, as anyone with children knows, “fairness” is in the eye of the beholder.

In the detailed rankings, South Dakota got its highest score for “Judges’ Impartiality,” followed by “Juries’ Fairness.” In those two categories, the state ranked third and sixth, respectively. The lowest scores were for “Scientific and Technical Evidence” (38th) and “Having and Enforcing Meaningful Venue Requirements” (31st).

South Dakota ranked 12th in 2008 and 11th in 2007. Delaware topped the list of the best legal climate while Louisiana and West Virginia ranked 49th and 50th. Even recognizing the survey’s perspective, there is something that will cause some South Dakotans to grumble: North Dakota ranked second.