Conviction upheld in Janklow caseBy Richard Meryhew / Star Tribune
startribune.comJ.R. Scott was inspecting feeder cattle from the driver's seat of his pickup truck Thursday when his mother, Dee, called on his cell phone and gave him the news:
Bill Janklow's attempt to overturn his felony conviction in the August 2003 traffic accident that killed Scott's father had apparently come to an end.
In a unanimous ruling, South Dakota's highest court said the 65-year-old former congressman and four-term governor received a fair trial in December 2003.
A jury found him guilty of second-degree manslaughter and reckless driving in the collision that killed Randy Scott, 55, a cattle rancher from Hardwick, Minn.
The court also ruled that prosecutors presented enough evidence to win a conviction.
"It worked out good," J.R. Scott, 26, said by phone from the cattle feeder barn in Herreid, S.D., where he has worked for nearly two years. "I was getting sick of him thinking he's not guilty. If you're guilty, you're guilty. Don't sit there and keep denying it."
The South Dakota Supreme Court ruling apparently ends attempts by one of the state'sformerly most prominent and powerful political figures to clear his name and record. Although he could appeal his case to the U.S. District Court or the U.S. Supreme Court, his attorney said that it is unlikely.
"Obviously, we're disappointed," said Ed Evans, an attorney from Sioux Falls, S.D., who represented Janklow. "But I don't foresee any further appeals or court proceedings."
Janklow did not return phone calls to his home Thursday.
"I haven't commented on it since this all started ... and I'm not going to start talking about it now," he told the Associated Press.
According to authorities, Janklow, a colorful character who often bragged about his fast driving, ran a stop sign and collided with Scott's motorcycle at a rural intersection near Trent, S.D. the afternoon of Aug. 16, 2003.
Investigators said Janklow, who was headed home from a ceremony to honor Korean War veterans, was driving south at more than 70 miles per hour when he hit Scott, who was traveling west and was not required to stop at the intersection. Scott died at the scene.
Janklow said repeatedly in the months after that he did not recall what happened in the moments leading up to the crash.
Evans argued at trial that Janklow, an insulin-dependent diabetic, missed the stop sign because he had suffered a diabetic reaction caused by low blood sugar. But prosecutors argued that Janklow, who drove the highway often while traveling from his home to visit his mother in Flandreau, S.D., was driving with a "reckless disregard" for the safety of others.
Jurors agreed, convicting him of second-degree manslaughter, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of reckless driving, speeding and running a stop sign. In the hours after his conviction, Janklow resigned his U.S. House seat.
In January 2004 he was sentenced to 100 days in jail, fined more than $11,000, stripped of his driving privileges for three years and placed on probation for the same period of time.
In appealing his case, Janklow argued that prosecutors didn't present sufficient evidence to prove he acted recklessly in killing Scott. He also argued that prosecutors proved only that he ran the stop sign.
But the Supreme Court said there was "sufficient evidence from which the jury could conclude that Janklow was aware of, yet disregarded, the risk of an accident occurring as a result of his conduct."
"Ohhhh, thank goodness," Dee Scott, J.R.'s mother and Randy Scott's former wife, said after learning of the state Supreme Court ruling. "It's a relief to have this part end."
Dee Scott said her family has been frustrated watching Janklow appeal.
"He's still fighting it," she said. "That was the thing that bothered me. He's still denying it. He's still fighting it or trying to get out of it or get out of any responsibility at all."
The case was decided by five circuit jud
I still think he got off to easy!!!!! Den