South Dakota Senate approves 2-day impeachment trial for AG

Apr 26, 2022, 10:37 AM | Updated: 11:00 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Senate on Tuesday approved the rules for an impeachment trial of the state’s attorney general for his conduct surrounding a 2020 fatal car crash, laying out a two-day proceeding in June that gives just hours to either side to argue their case.

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, a Republican, was impeached by the House this month over the crash in which he killed a pedestrian but initially said he may have struck a deer or other large animal. The Senate trial, which will decide whether he is guilty of the House impeachment charges, is historic since Ravnsborg is the first official to be impeached in South Dakota.

The trial’s rules received unanimous approval in the Republican-controlled Senate. They give both the impeachment prosecutors and Ravnsborg’s defense attorney one hour for an opening statement, four hours to present evidence and one hour to close their arguments. Senators may take additional time to ask additional questions, debate the articles of impeachment and hear directly from Ravnsborg if he chooses to testify. The trial starts June 21.

“These rules were designed to be a very simple and fair process,” said Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, who presides over the Senate. He added that the files used in the impeachment investigation will be posted online and he expects senators to review those before the trial.

The Senate has appointed Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo as the lead impeachment prosecutor. He assisted in the criminal prosecution but left the prosecutorial team before the local state’s attorney charged Ravnsborg with three traffic misdemeanors. Ravnsborg has hired Sioux Falls attorney Mike Butler to present his defense, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.

Ravnsborg last year pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors in exchange for the third being dropped by prosecutors. The 45-year-old Republican, who took office in 2019, was returning home from a Republican dinner in September 2020 when he struck and killed Joseph Boever, who was walking along a rural highway. A sheriff who responded after Ravnsborg called 911 initially reported it as a collision with an animal. Ravnsborg has said he did not realize he hit a man until he returned the next day and found the body.

Ravnsborg is facing two articles of impeachment: one for committing crimes that caused someone’s death and the other for making “numerous misrepresentations” to law enforcement officers after the crash, as well as using his office to navigate the criminal investigation.

The Senate will vote on each impeachment article, as well as a separate vote on barring him from holding future office in the state. It will take a two-thirds majority to convict Ravnsborg and bar him from holding future office.

The attorney general has stayed mostly silent during the political and legal aftermath of the crash. He did not answer an invitation to appear before a House impeachment investigation committee and did not appear at any of the criminal court hearings.

After his impeachment, Ravnsborg said he is looking forward to the Senate trial as a chance to “be vindicated.” His attorney and spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday on the Senate rules and whether he will testify at the trial.

Ravnsborg has faced numerous calls to resign from within his own party, most prominently from Gov. Kristi Noem. But so far, he has refused, although the state constitution requires him to take a leave of absence from his official duties until the Senate trial concludes.

Schoenbeck said that even if Ravnsborg were to resign before the trial, he believes the Senate will still act on the House impeachment charges and vote on barring Ravnsborg from holding future office.

The South Dakota Republican Party’s state convention, where the party’s nominee will be selected, starts the day after the impeachment trial is set to conclude.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
3 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
3 days ago
(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
9 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
17 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
17 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
24 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...

Here’s what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.
...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
South Dakota Senate approves 2-day impeachment trial for AG