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Debunking the "Terrified School Board President" Scam.
Amendment E's opposition's insistence that the Amendment will address individual members of boards and commissions and even jurors doesn't hold water for the following reasons:
1. Members of boards and commissions make decisions as a group, never individually. As groups they are already sue-able, and in fact get sued quite often. Amendment E does not make them "more sue-able."
2. To argue that Amendment E would allow for suing individual jurors is so laughable it pains me to address it. Jurors make one of three possible decisions; innocent, guilty, or undecided. This extremely limited involvement in the judicial process precludes the possibility of a juror committing any of the seven enumerated violations addressed in Section 2 of the amendment.
3. The Amendment addresses "judicial" immunity. The word "Judicial" is an adjective. My Black's Law Dictionary defines judicial as: "Belonging to the office of a judge; as judicial authority. Relating to or connected with the administration of justice; as a judicial officer. Having the character of judgment or formal legal procedure; as a judicial act. Proceeding from a court of justice; as a judicial writ, a judicial determination." Boards, commissions, and jurors make decisions, but by definition are not "judicial" decisions, and therefore do not come under the jurisdiction of Amendment E, despite what Circuit Court Judge Max Gors has to say.
4. It could be argued that boards, commissions, and jurors have "quasi-judicial" immunity. But nowhere in Amendment E is the term "quasi-judicial" even mentioned.
5. The reason "all other persons claiming to be shielded by judicial immunity" was included in the Amendment's language was just in case judges got smart and started calling themselves by some other title. You know, like "your highness!"
6. And if the above refutations to the opposition's argument are still not enough, then perhaps they could be so kind as to walk us through the mechanics of using Amendment E to sue say, the "terrified school board president."
Let's see now, first the plaintiff would file suit against the school board president in South Dakota Circuit Court.
The judge is sure to dismiss the suit as frivolous stating that the plaintiff had no business suing the school board president and that if anything he should have sued the Board in its entirety.
So far Amendment E has not been used.
The plaintiff, still insistent on going after the school board president, appeals to the South Dakota Supreme Court, which is our appeals court here in SD.
The SDSC would as usual affirm the lower court's decision. Still Amendment E has had no effect.
But finally the court weary plaintiff would be allowed to file a complaint of judicial misconduct with Amendment E's Special Grand Jury.
But his complaint would necessarily have to be against the lower court judge who refused to hear his case against the school board president!
Amendment E STILL does not involve the school board president. But it gets better yet.
Now the plaintiff has the grueling task of convincing at least seven of the thirteen Special Grand Jurors that his gripe against the lower court judge has merit, and that he should be allowed to sue that judge for damages.
STILL NO DIRECT INVOLVEMENT OF AMENDMENT E WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT.
The plaintiff on the other hand will probably by now be so exhausted and financially depleted that he won't recall why he wanted to sue the school board president in the first place!
The bottom line: Amendment E will hold only judges accountable. It will have no affect on members of boards, commissions and juries.
Bill StegmeierSponsor of South Dakota Amendment E
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