Jurors from neighboring Fall River County should not hear a civil case arising out of an incident that occurred in Pine Ridge, the South Dakota Supreme Court decided when it unanimously ruled to reverse a lower court's standing order to not draw jurors who are tribal members living in Oglala Lakota County.
South Dakota Public Radio reports that a standing order in the Seventh Circuit Court to empanel Fall River County jurors in all cases from Oglala Lakota County (formerly Shannon County) amounted to a change of venue and was unconstitutional.
Trials for state cases arising out of Oglala Lakota County are held at the Fall River County courthouse in Hot Springs because there is not a courthouse in Oglala Lakota County. A lawyer argued to the court that because the state lacks jurisdiction to hold tribal members in contempt of court for failing to report for jury duty, tribal members are unlikely to serve as jurors. Those who would report would likely do so because of a bias in the case, he argued.
During oral arguments, excerpted in the SDPB report, the chief justice replied: "Wow." Another justice said the standing order "presumes tribal members aren't going to appear out of civic duty." Another justice asked, "How do you know until you try?"
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