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Suicide Details of Judge Withheld

From: Rose firstrose@verizon.net
To: sdittmer@daily.mitchellrepublic.com, oreilly@foxnews.com
Subject: Judge suicide-Media Hush?
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2006 11:59:56 -0400

Monday afternoon, Judge Lee Anderson was found dead of an apparent suicide. Judge Anderson was the Chief justice who sat on the judicial oversite board in South Dakota. ...

Rose firstrose@verizon.net

Here are the only two articles about Judge Anderson's suicide...

Judge’s death shocks friends, family
Sarah Dittmer The Daily Republic
Published Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Friends and family of Lee Anderson were saddened and shocked upon hearing
the news of the local judge’s death Monday afternoon.

Anderson, 54, was found dead of an apparent suicide at 1:45 p.m. outside his rural Mitchell home. He had served as a judge for nearly  15 years.

Friend and state Rep. Mike Vehle, of Mitchell, said Anderson had a  “zest for life.”

“I loved him dearly,” said Vehle. “I think of all our trips and the things we did, and the things I would have never done if it wasn’t  for Lee.” Word of Anderson’s death spread quickly Monday. Employees at the Davison County Courthouse were visibly shaken Monday afternoon.  Colleagues around the state already had heard the news by late  afternoon.

“We were notified around 2 p.m. that Judge Lee Anderson had suddenly passed away,” said Judith Roberts, of Pierre, legal council with the South Dakota Unified Judicial System. “We don’t have any information on his death.

“Our hearts, prayers and thoughts go out to his family and friends in Mitchell.”

Details about his death were being withheld Monday. The Davison County
Sheriff’s Department investigated the incident, but Sheriff  David Miles declined any comment on the incident, saying he had been  told by judicial authorities in Pierre to stay quiet.

Anderson is survived by his wife, Anne, and two sons, Nathan and Drew.

Vehle said his friendship with Lee Anderson goes back decades and  includes
many trips together. One of those trips included a dive to see sharks.

“Lee loved to travel. He loved to make the plans,” Vehle said. “He loved
to experience new things when he traveled.”

Once during a trip to Mexico, Vehle said Anderson wanted to stay out later and take in the night life. Anderson, a morning person, was usually ready for bed early in the evening.

“He told us one night that we were going to stay out late. We finished dinner and his head starting nodding. It wasn’t even 10  p.m.,” Vehle said with a laugh.

Rick Geyerman, of Mitchell, said his memories of Anderson “all seem to
include a scuba tank on his back — that’s where I got to know him.”

In 2000, Geyerman and Anderson, along with two other friends, traveled to
Mexico and Belize. They spent about a month in the region sightseeing and
scuba-diving. Three years later, Geyerman, Anderson and others traveled to
the Bahamas.

Geyerman described Anderson as easygoing and someone with a strong faith.

“He was the one that seemed least likely to be overwhelmed with anything,”
said Geyerman.

Anderson enjoyed scuba-diving, traveling, hunting, fishing, bird- watching and gardening, Vehle and Geyerman said.

Often, Anderson carried a book about birds or fish, so that he could identify them as he saw them, marking them off.

South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David E. Gilbertson said Anderson
was “regarded as a judge’s judge.”

“He was liked and respected by all who knew him,” said Gilbertson. “He will be missed and long remembered by all of us who were privileged to know him and to work with him.”

Roberts said other judges will step in and cover Anderson’s workload.

“The other judges will rally around their colleague and fill the void,” Roberts said. “Right know, we are focusing on his family, friends and colleagues.”

According to Mark Johnston, spokesman for Gov. Mike Rounds, the governor
will eventually appoint a replacement.

Anderson attended the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and then the University of Denver College of Law, graduating in 1976. From 1976 until 1990, he practiced private law with the Stiles,  Anderson and Swank law firm.

He was a member of the Mitchell Lions Club and First Lutheran Church in

Funeral services are pending with the Bittner Funeral Chapel in Mitchell. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established.

Our View: Paying respects to the late judge


The Daily Republic
Published Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This community was buffeted again with the death of Judge Lee Anderson. To say his passing came as a shock would be an understatement; no one believed, much less understood, the news of his death on first  hearing of it Monday afternoon.

Clearly, at age 54, with a strong record on the bench behind him and presumably many years of productive service ahead, no one could  envision anything but a bright future for the judge and his family.

We refuse to dwell on the circumstances of his death and instead prefer to reflect on the contributions he made to our community.  Because of his position, the judge was limited to some degree in what  he could do outside the courthouse. Anything that would involve  politics, social issues, and fundraising generally were off-limits, if not by statute then by the judge’s own sense of propriety.

Despite this, Judge Anderson found other ways to serve. He was active in a  number of organizations in town, including the Lions Club, and recently, he and his wife, Anne, accompanied a group of young people on a church-service mission to Mexico for the First Lutheran Church.

An avid sports fan, he often was seen at events in both winter and summer and his fondness for basketball made him a regular at the Corn Palace.

His work on the bench was widely respected. His reputation as an impartial and learned judge continued to grow over the years. Even those who disagreed with his rulings respected his reasoning.

We can’t begin to imagine how difficult this time is for his family and friends. We join the community in marking his contributions and grieving his passing.

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