Bill Stegmeier’s initials are an entirely appropriate description of much of what he said on public television this evening. What I’m not quite sure of is whether he is flat out lying or simply doesn’t understand what “his” Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (J.A.I.L.) actually says and does. Let’s take a look at just a few of his comments:
- BS started by telling viewers that South Dakota’s need for J.A.I.L. is 9 on a scale of 10. He later said that when it comes to judicial corruption “the problem is huge.” Yet, as has been the case in spite of numerous prior invitations and a specific one on the program tonight, BS could not identify a single case of judicial misconduct in South Dakota. Why? No one knows about them because they’re all done in “secret.”
- BS told viewers J.A.I.L. is “written only to address the judiciary.” Diana Miller of the No on E Committee quickly pointed out what BS said in a mailing to residents in Madison: “With the passage of South Dakota JAIL, any governmental employee of any stripe, shape or flavor… hiding behind the bogus doctrine called ‘judicial immunity’ will now have to shape up or ship out.” As I’ve said here repeatedly, J.A.I.L. defines “judge” as any person claiming judicial immunity and that includes school boards, administrative agencies, jurors and witnesses. Given his prior statement to the Madison residents, it’s pretty clear BS is simply trying to mislead on this point.
- When Miller pointed out that J.A.I.L. gives immunity to its special grand jury at the same time it is trying to strip it from hundreds of public officials and citizens, BS responded, “I don’t find that in the amendment any where.” Well let me help you Bill. Paragraph 20 of “your” amendment says: “No person exercising strict enforcement of the findings of a Special Grand Jury shall be held liable civilly, criminally, or in contempt.” Thus, in reaching and entering its findings the grand jury is immune as well as the person who then goes after the judge, jury or witnesses armed with J.A.I.L.’s blessing.
- Of course, every once in a while BS let a bit of reality slip in. When explaining the areas to which J.A.I.L. would apply and asserting it covers only misconduct and corruption, he said “maybe [the judge] did not let you introduce evidence that would help your case.” Judges make dozens of evidentiary rulings in the course of an adjudication. Moreover, many appeals are based on those rulings. Yet as BS inadvertently let slip, even if the judge’s ruling is determined to be correct by every conceivable reviewing court in the world, J.A.I.L. can still be invoked to attack the judge. In other words, a group of 13 individuals have unbridled and unreviewable power to let a judge be sued even though he or she followed established law.
It’s like I’ve said before. If you don’t fact check virtually everything the J.A.I.L.ers say, you’re just going to be fed a steady diet of half-truths, hokum and hogwash.
You can best reward a liar by believing nothing of what he says.