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Court Rules Against Reporter In Death Records Suit

September 2, 2014, 5:46 PM

Court Rules Against Reporter In Death Records Suit
Richard Benda


A judge ruled against a journalist in a lawsuit seeking more information about the death of former state economic development director Richard Benda.

Circuit Judge Kathleen Trandahl says Attorney General Marty Jackley was justified in not releasing details into Benda's death out of privacy concerns for his daughter.

Journalist Bob Mercer filed the lawsuit against Jackley. He previously was unsuccessful in getting records through an administrative law process.

Benda's October death was ruled a suicide. At the time, Jackley was preparing to file felony theft charges against Benda amid allegations of financial misconduct at the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

Trandahl wrote Mercer failed to rebut the presumption that the forensic report is legitimate.

Mercer says the public deserves more and he'll appeal to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

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