A pretty poor poster child

South Dakota JAILer-in-chief Bill Stegmeier said my wish for more JAIL ads would come true with a full page ad in the Argus Leader today. It’s there but it won’t generate the hours of blog time BS predicted. Aside from it being so dense with type few people will read it, it simply trots out JAIL’s longtime poster child, convicted felon Gene Lodermeier.

I know Lodermeier hates it when I call him a convicted felon. In fact, he’s said it’s libelous. Yet even if you ignore the conviction the JAIL ad discusses, Lodermeier is a convicted felon. To conclude otherwise, you’d have to forget that he pleaded guilty to felony burglary in Brown County. You’d also have to ignore his conviction several years later in federal court for receiving, interstate transportation of stolen property. Those prior felony convictions make him a “habitual offender” under South Dakota law. Of course, you wouldn’t know that from reading the ad.

I’ve talked about Lodermeier before and, quite frankly, if he’s the core and crux of JAIL’s last minute ad, neither he nor it are worth much effort. Here’s just a handful of reasons the ad points out the very problems with Amendment E:

  • The ad makes plain that Lodermeier wants to sue the judges, prosecutors and witnesses involved in his case. All are people entitled to judicial immunity and, thus, a “judge” as that term is defined in JAIL. In fact, how can BS claim he is not lying in saying JAIL only applies to the judiciary when the ad his BS committee purchased says the acts of the “judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, or parties who conspired with them” could be presented to JAIL’s special grand jury?
  • The ad also demonstrates the dangers of the retroactivity provisions of JAIL. It would allow Lodermeier to sue the judges (one of whom has been deceased for several years), jurors, witnesses, prosecutors and defense attorneys even though the conviction he complains of was affirmed by the South Dakota Supreme Court nearly 15 years ago. Anyone alive today who has been convicted of a crime at any time in the past can go after the judge, jury and witnesses in their case, regardless of how long ago it occurred.
  • The ad says Lodermeier’s sentence was too harsh. It doesn’t mention that he never raised that issue when he appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court. But having already appealed that conviction, this shows how JAIL and the special grand jury can be used to attack judges for issues never presented to an appellate court. It’s simply an end-around a system governed by established rules, procedure and laws, the very things JAILers detest.
  • The ad suggests Lodermeier was never able to sue any of the people it identifies. It doesn’t mention that Lodermeier brought a lawsuit in federal court against many of those people, including the prosecuting attorneys. Not only did the federal trial court dismiss the lawsuit, when the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision, it said virtually all of Lodermeier’s claims “are meritless.” Not only does JAIL want an end-around the state courts, it also wants to evade the rulings of federal courts.

So, once again, the BS committee ads do an excellent job showing the falsehoods and omissions upon which the JAILers rely. More important, it establishes that one of the main goals of Amendment E is to allow convicted felons to seek revenge against the judges, jurors and witnesses who participated in their trials.

Repudiating the virtues of your world, criminals hopelessly agree to organize a forbidden universe. They agree to live in it. The air there is nauseating: they can breathe it.

Jean Genet, The Thief’s Journal

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