South Dakota’s first impeachment case suspended by lawmakers awaits county court proceedings
“Can we just leave the jade plant where it is?” Bellowed a masked man in the second row of the House Affairs of State Committee.
And with that tender symbolism, the first effort to remove a constitutional officer in South Dakota history was open to the promoter’s testimony.
Lawmakers had already amended the bill to effectively enforce the resolution until a county judge ruled. The question of whether the Attorney General Jason ravnsborg was fit to perform his duties after hitting and killing a man with his Ford Taurus walking by the side of the road last September could be dealt with once criminal proceedings for three misdemeanors are completed.
But this man’s cousin stood up in favor of the resolution on Wednesday, March 3.
His voice trembling, the jade plant – removed and then reset on the dais – beside him, Nick Nemec told a story about Joe Boever.
Nemec said his cousin returned home in Highmore, SD a few years ago to get under him. He worked in the grocery store. He started gardening, propagating, and even gifting jade plants to his friends and neighbors after a good deed.
“Joe was an average Joe,” Nemec said, describing his cousin’s turnaround – buying a house, getting married – after returning to his hometown.
Nemec also said what worried many South Dakota residents over the days, weeks and now months after the first announcement was made that the Attorney General not only hit and killed a man, but that the the local sheriff had offered him a car to drive him home. to Pierre: What would happen if the circumstances were reversed? What if it was Boever – not Ravnsborg – driving the car on September 12, accelerating and being distracted and colliding and killing a powerful state official along a dark road on a rural highway.
“We all know that working class blue collar Joe Boever would be in jail or jail,” Nemec said.
And then Nemec sat down. His testimony was the only supporter of the morning. No opponent spoke either.
Previously, the impeachment resolutionthe main sponsor of, Rep. Will mortenson, a Republican from Pierre who represents Hyde County east of where Boever was struck and killed, reaffirmed his call that impeachment is “an exceptional mechanism” and is appropriate in this case.
“It’s not personal, and it’s not political,” Mortenson said. “We have never had such an incident where the official refused to resign after the fact.”
But that all changed following Sixth Circuit Judicial Judge John Brown’s gagging order on February 25, hours after Gov. Kristi Noem at a press conference threatened to publish more evidence in the survey. Two days earlier, Noem had called for Ravnsborg’s resignation.
Brown called Noem’s directive “Unusual,” a violation of Ravnsborg’s due process rights as an accused, and ordered that the three hours of video the Department of Public Security had previously posted be removed from a state website. He also banned “any member of the state government” from speaking publicly about the case.
Lawmakers seem to think this includes them.
“I think this strongly hampers our ability to conduct a fair and transparent hearing,” said the Speaker of the House. Spencer gosch, R-Glenham, who proposed the amendment to slow down proceedings until a verdict is reached in court.
So when Nemec resigned, a few more words were said. The committee voted 13-0 to approve the resolution, as amended, sending the state’s first impeachment inquiry as quickly into the wilderness of strangers as it arrived.
A lawyer representing Ravnsborg declined to respond to several Forum News Service inquiries. The prosecutor does not speak to the media. And the court record on the first – and only – magistrate’s proceeding in Hyde County does not yet have a court date.
This means the state – and Boever’s family – could still have a long way to go before they get answers.