Sioux Falls man fights City Hall and wins in SD Supreme CourtSIOUX FALLS (AP) — The South Dakota Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a judge's ruling that Sioux Falls' administrative appeals process is unconstitutional.
By: DIRK LAMMERS,
SIOUX FALLS (AP) — The South Dakota Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a judge's ruling that Sioux Falls' administrative appeals process is unconstitutional.
Dan Daily sued the city in 2008 after receiving four citations in two years for violating city code with a driveway extension up to a fire hydrant. He lost his appeal to the city but decided to pursue the matter in the courts rather than pay the $200 fine.
In a written opinion issued Thursday, the high court affirmed a trial court opinion that the city's enforcement violated Daily's constitutional rights to due process and equal application of the law.
The justices said the city took a position that issuing a city code enforcement citation assumed non-compliance, and Daily incorrectly bore the burden of proving that the city incorrectly issued it.
Although Sioux Falls municipal code says that an appellant can call and examine witnesses, introduce documentary and physical evidence, cross-examine opposing witnesses and rebut evidence, the court said Daily did not get that opportunity.
"This difficulty was compounded by the fact that Daily was not afforded an opportunity to subpoena witnesses or documents or to otherwise investigate the basis for the citations," the justices wrote in the opinion.
The court said the city's appeals process did not afford Daily an opportunity to be heard "at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner."
A message left Thursday with Sioux Falls City Attorney Dave Pfeifle was not immediately returned.
The court also took issue with the city issuing Daily multiple citations for the same violation rather than initiating legal proceedings in magistrate or circuit court to collect fines or have him correct the violations.
"While this practice did not constitute a technical violation of Daily's procedural due process rights, it is a relevant consideration in evaluating the fairness of the City's administrative appeals process," the justices wrote.