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Task force wants state records policy clarified under new victim's rights law

PIERRE — State Attorney General Marty Jackley wants to quickly address whether crime and emergency records can remain open or must be closed under the Marsy's Law victim's rights amendment that voters added to the South Dakota constitution last month.

Charles McGuigan, who is the attorney general's chief deputy, served as moderator of teleconference meeting Friday morning of lawyers, law enforcement officials and others involved in the criminal justice system.

Jackley formed the task force because of difficulties and uncertainties that have surfaced regarding Marsy's Law.

McGuigan said members of the attorney general's staff would put together draft recommendations on the records issue for Jackley to consider. After his review the proposed policy would be sent to task force members by the end of the weekend.

Jackley wants the task force to convene again early next week, possibly as soon as Monday, to discuss the recommendations and attempt to reach consensus about what the records approach should be, according to McGuigan.

Jackley wasn't on the conference call Friday. He was traveling from Florida where he participated in National Association of Attorneys General training activities. He is the group's immediate past president.

McGuigan said Jackley asked that the Marsy's Law task force address "right number five" that allows victims "to prevent disclosure of information or records." He said it affects accident reports, insurance information and service call reports.

Brandon police chief Dave Krull said there seems to be different approaches by different departments.

Some are releasing accident reports to people in the reports, he said, while some are using a block approach on listing locations. He said one county is putting all of its reports with its state's attorney and releasing information only when there is a subpoena.

"What information can we put out and to who it can be released?" Krull said to the other task force members. "That's the starting point."

Jason Glodt, a Pierre lawyer and Republican political operative, ran the Marsy's Law campaign in the South Dakota election. He told the task force the records would be closed only when the victim asks.

"The victims must opt in to invoke their rights," Glodt said. "The records we're talking about should continue to be released as they always have."

Spearfish police chief Pat Rotert said county prosecutors, law enforcement and emergency responders need an answer from the state attorney general they all can use. He said they are looking for standards.

"I think it needs to come from the A.G.'s office, perhaps even with support from the judicial system," Rotert said.

Minnehaha County sheriff Mike Milstead said there are too many different legal interpretations regarding the records. He said a template is needed that cities, counties and state agencies can follow.

"This has been disastrous to us right now," Milstead said. He strongly disagreed with Glodt's position that victims need to opt-in to close the records.

Glodt later suggested the attorney general's office be the clearinghouse for task force members and the public to submit questions that would trigger review. He is treasurer for Jackley's governor candidacy committee.

Dave Bordewyk, executive director for the South Dakota Newspaper Association, agreed with Glodt's position regarding the need for victims to opt in.

Bordewyk said McGuigan was on track getting the information issue addressed first. "I think you've kind of laid it out pretty well," Bordewyk said.

Sioux Falls police chief Chief Matt Burns asked for a statement of policy regarding public transmissions of information over law enforcement radio.

McGuigan said he couldn't commit that scanners would be covered by the draft document.

"Fair enough," Burns replied.

Glodt said he would "strongly disagree" with anyone who argues that scanner traffic needs to be closed to the public. "This should have no impact on that," Glodt said.

McGuigan said the task force has many organizational decisions to make at future meetings.

Those include who sets the meeting agenda, how items are put on the agenda, the form of task force decisions, how decisions are reached, whether decisions are issued as task force opinions or attorney general opinions and handling public participation and comments.

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