PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) – Jason Ravnsborg has been convicted of impeachment by the South Dakota Senate.

In a historic decision, the Senate has voted to sustain both articles of impeachment put forth by the House against Ravnsborg. He has also been barred from holding any office in the the state in the future.

On the first count, Senators voted 24-9 to convict Ravnsborg. On the second vote of impeachment, Senators voted 31-2 to convict.

On the third and fourth vote, Senators voted 33-0. It disqualifies Ravnsborg from ever holding any public office in South Dakota ever again.

There’s 33 Senators present for the trial in Pierre. The two Senators missing were Julie Frye-Mueller (R-Rapid City) and Red Dawn Foster (D-Pine Ridge). A two-thirds majority of 24 Senators is required to convict Ravnsborg and remove him from office.

In April, state Representatives voted 36-31 (three excused) to impeach Ravnsborg on two counts – certain crimes and malfeasance in office. The crimes and malfeasance all stem from a September 12, 2020, crash where Ravnsborg’s private car struck and killed Joe Boever, who was walking on the north shoulder of U.S. 14. 

Here’s a breakdown of the first impeachment vote, where Senators voted 24-9 to convict Ravnsborg. Senators voted on “crimes causing the death of Joseph Boever.”

Senators who voted YES

Jim Bolin (R-Canton)
Bryan Breitling (R-Miller)
Gary Cammack (R-Union Center)
Jessica Castleberry (R-Rapid City) 
Casey Crabtree (R-Madison)
Blake Curd (R-Sioux Falls)
Michael Diedrich (R-Rapid City)
Helene Duhamel (R-Rapid City)
Mary Duvall (R-Pierre)
Troy Heinert (D-Mission)
Jean Hunhoff (R-Yankton) 
David Johnson (R-Rapid City)
Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls)
Herman Otten (R-Lennox) 
Michael Rohl (R-Aberdeen) 
Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown)
Kyle Schoenfish (R-Scotland)
V.J. Smith (R-Brookings)
Jim Stalzer (R-Sioux Falls)
Maggie Sutton (R-Sioux Falls) 
Erin Tobin (R-Winner)
David Wheeler (R-Huron) 
John Wiik (R-Big Stone City)
Larry Zikmund (R-Sioux Falls)

Senators who voted NO

Brock Greenfield (R-Clark)
Tim Johns (R-Lead)
Joshua Klumb (R-Mitchell) 
Jack Kolbeck (R-Sioux Falls) 
Ryan Maher (R-Isabel) 
Al Novstrup (R-Aberdeen) 
Arthur Rusch (R-Vermillion)
Wayne Steinhauer (R-Hartford) 
Marsha Symens (R-Dell Rapids)

On the second impeachment vote, the two Senators voting against were Johns and Novstrup.

Following today’s decision, Governor Kristi Noem will have the option to nominate someone to fill Ravnsborg’s position.

The family of the Boever family was in attendance for the trial. Cousin Nick Nemec of Holabird said: “I feel vindicated. It’s been a long two years.”

He added, “I was just feeling uptight about the whole thing.” He was pleased by the 33-0 votes to forever ban Ravnsborg from state office or profit from a state government position.

The long day inside the Senate chambers started with Clay County State’s Attorney Alexis Tracy telling Senators how someone responds to life altering moments defines a person. 

She said the Attorney General had multiple opportunities “to do the right thing.” 

“Whatever drew his attention we can say with certainty and he cannot deny he was distracted,” Tracy said. 

Ravnsborg’s attorneys reminded the Senate that no elected official in South Dakota has ever been impeached and neither has a federal official. 

“Make no mistake members of the Senate what you are here for is incredibly rare in the American experience,” An impeachment attorney with an office in Washington D.C. Ross Garber said.

In closing arguments to the Senate, Pennington County state’s attorney Mark Vargo said the misdemeanors Ravnsborg committed are clear. 

Vargo said the degree of distraction was extreme and Ravnsborg’s behavior before and after the crash proves how easy he could be distracted. 

“He is so far outside of the line of travel and so distracted,” Vargo said. “Wherever his attention was, it was not on the road.”

Vargo said Ravnsborg lied to 911 right away by saying hit something in the middle of the road.

“You’ve heard better lies from 5-year-olds,” Vargo said after playing part of Ravnsborg’s interview with agents.  

Vargo said the standard for impeachment is whatever the Senate decides it is. Vargo said Garber’s opening statement about how rare impeachment in the United States is failed to highlight the importance of resignation. 

Vargo asked: “What are we saying then if we let Ravnsborg lie and stay in office?”

He said the Senate would endorse a standard that they’d approve of Ravnsborg’s actions in office and tell the public you can be too powerful to fail.

The defense argued Ravnsborg must be acquitted. Sioux Falls lawyer Michael Butler said the Senate shouldn’t be reduced to a traffic court and asked if the misdemeanors warranted Ravnsborg’s removal from office. 

Butler noted that Boever’s family received a civil settlement. 

“And they couldn’t have done it without the attorney general’s cooperation,” Butler said.

A real-time break down of Tuesday’s events can be found as they happened with time marks in the parts below. It starts with Senators having a floor debate before voting on the first impeachment count.


4:43 p.m.

The first impeachment count called for Ravnsborg to be removed from office for causing the death of Boever, including the crime of an illegal lane change.

The second impeachment count called for Ravnsborg to be removed from office because he allegedly misrepresented what had happened when he spoke to the 911 dispatcher after the crash and when he subsequently spoke to law enforcement investigators and the public.

Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) asked Senators to imagine their own family walking along the highway. He said Senators can call Ravnsborg’s impeachment criminal if they want too.

Schoenbeck said it is not a criminal or legal proceeding and there’s no burden of proof. Schoenbeck is calling out Ravnsborg for not testifying and answering what he did. He said there should have been a resignation and he believes there should be impeachment.

Sen. Troy Heinert (D-Mission) said no Senators didn’t want to be there. The attorney general didn’t want to be there, Senators didn’t want to be there and Joe Boever’s family didn’t want to be there but they all are.

Heinert said it comes down to what each person believes about Ravnsborg’s actions before and after crash warrant removal from office. Heinert paused for 18 seconds and said that’s how long it took for Ravnsborg to stop his car.

Sen. Gary Cammack (R-Union Center) said four wheels were outside the line of traffic and crossed the rumble strip twice. Cammack said there will be no winners. 

Sen. Arthur Rusch (R-Vermillion) said he has known Ravnsborg longer than most other Senators. Rusch said he was impressed by the investigation and followed up on every lead that they could. Rusch said Ravnsborg has a history of being a poor driver but he said the Senate shouldn’t impeach for Class 2 misdemeanors.

Jessica Castleberry (R-Rapid City) said she’s been part of 10 deer crashes and her family would always stop to see if the deer was dead or not.

Sen. Tim Johns (R-Lead) said the Senate sends condolences and said Ravnsborg was not charged with felonies.  He said neither of the misdemeanors relate to his performance of office.

“We need to keep our eye on the ball,” Johns said.

David Wheeler (R-Huron) said crimes mean crimes and it’s a plain word that everyone can understand. Wheeler said the “crimes causing the death of Joe Boever.”

Wheeler said “it was beyond distracted driving.”

Sen. Helene Duhamel (R-Rapid City) said this is a serious offense that killed a man.

Sen. Michael Diedrich (R-Rapid City) said the fitness for office part sticks with him. He said it’s up to the Senate to weigh the confidence and public trust in the office of attorney general.


4 p.m.

The defense is giving its closing argument. Both Ross Garber, an impeachment expert and Washington D.C. lawyer, and Michael Butler, a Sioux Falls lawyer, will speak.

Garber said the standards set by the Senate would be held for all elected officials now and into the future. 

Garber said most of the arguments he heard Tuesday involved a vehicle death case, which Ravnsborg was not charged or found guilty of. He kept saying the impeachment was a very rare removal proceeding, not a criminal or burden of proof.

Garber again highlighted the separation of powers and the decisions of voters. He said dishonesty is not grounds for removal from office.

“An acquittal is the only answer here,” Garber said.

Butler says the articles of impeachment note the crimes of Ravnsborg in the death of Boever in the first article of impeachment. He said the criminal case proves Ravnsborg did nothing wrong for that. 

Butler said the Senate shouldn’t be reduced to a traffic court. He asked if the misdemeanor in office is so bad that it warrants Ravnsborg’s removal.

Butler noted that Boever’s family received a civil settlement. “And they couldn’t have done it without the attorney general’s cooperation,” Butler said.

Butler said what Senators do will make history. 

Butler said what Senators do will make history. He said Ravnsborg wants to vindicate himself, not seek another term as attorney general.


3:20 p.m.

The Senate has returned. Up next, the prosecution and defense will make their closing remarks.

Pennington County state’s attorney Mark Vargo said the misdemeanors Ravnsborg committed are clear. 

He said you shouldn’t use the phrase “they’re only misdemeanors. They are offensive and they are misleading.”

Vargo said the victim was doing everything he should have been doing – walking towards the line of traffic to be more easily seen and carrying a flashlight. 

“He is so far outside of the line of travel and so distracted,” Vargo said. “Wherever his attention was, it was not on the road.”

Vargo said the degree of distraction was extreme and Ravnsborg’s behavior before and after the crash proves how easy he could be distracted. 

On the polygraph issue, Vargo said Ravnsborg knew the topic wasn’t appropriate for a polygraph test. Vargo asked why Butler didn’t have Ravnsborg take a polygraph from an unnamed polygraph expert from Sioux Falls.

Vargo said Ravnsborg lied to 911 right away by saying hit something in the middle of the road.

“You’ve heard better lies from 5-year-olds,” Vargo said after playing part of Ravnsborg’s interview with agents.  

Vargo said we’ve changed into a place where Ravnsborg wants people to feel sorry for him. Vargo said Ravnsborg was treated differently to his benefit.

Vargo said the standard for impeachment is whatever the Senate decides it is. Vargo said Garber’s opening statement about how rare impeachment in the United States is failed to highlight the importance of resignation. 

Vargo asks: “What are we saying then if we let Ravnsborg lie and stay in office?”

He said the Senate would endorse a standard that they’d approve of Ravnsborg’s actions in office and tell the public you can be too powerful to fail.

Prosecutor Mark Vargo gives his closing statement.

2:32 p.m.

The question phase has ended until 3:15 p.m. and the closing arguments will start.

The witnesses have been released from their subpoenas and oaths.

During the Senate’s question phase of the trial, Sen. David Wheeler (R-Huron) asked the prosecution about what the specific crime needs to be sustained.

Clay County state’s attorney Alexis Tracy said the two crimes Ravnsborg pled no contest — illegal lane change for driving on the shoulder and to illegal use of an electronic device while operating a motor vehicle — would suffice.

Sioux Falls lawyer Michael Butler admitted Ravnsborg was on the shoulder of the road but wouldn’t say if all four tires were on the shoulder or not.

Sen. Herman Otten (R-Lennox) asked if Ravnsborg’s interior lights were working or not. Rummel said it is not known if the interior lights were worked and he wasn’t sure if they did or not.

Otten asked how many Lincoln Day dinners did Ravnsborg attend in 2020. Butler responded Ravnsborg went to approximately 10.

Otten wanted to know if Ravnsborg attends the Lincoln Day dinners as a citizen and not as a function of being the attorney general. Butler said it was not an official function of his office.

Tracy said Ravnsborg said he’s always on as attorney general. She said at the time of the crash, it’s part of him constantly presenting himself as the attorney general. 

Otten asked the defense why Ravnsborg was using his AG cell phone instead of his personal cell phone while attending the Redfield dinner. Butler said he just has a work phone and a personal phone and called it “an innocent act.”

Sen. Maggie Sutton (R-Sioux Falls) asked why Ravnsborg called 911 first instead of a tow truck. She also asked how long the initial search by Ravnsborg and sheriff Volek was. Butler said it’s not clear how long.

Sen. Jack Kolbeck (R-Sioux Falls) asked Rummel if he knew what time the sunrise was Sept. 12, 2020. Kolbeck said the body wasn’t found until after 9 a.m. when sunrise was at 7:21 a.m. the morning. 

Rummel said at 65 mph it would be harder to see the body compared to walking at 2 mph.

Sen. Lee Schoenbeck (R-Watertown) asked why Ravnsborg wasn’t testifying. Butler responded they decided not call him a witness and said the burden rests with the prosecution.

Sen. Blake Curd (R-Sioux Falls) asked Rummel about dissociative amnesia, which can happen when a person goes through extremely stressful or traumatic events, which cause a loss of memory.

He asked if that’s plausible Ravnsborg had dissociative amnesia and Ravnsborg could be unable to recall what happened during the crash. 

Butler said when you are involved in a traumatic event people just remember what they remember. 


2 p.m.

Rummel remains testifying after having spoken for more than an hour with both the prosecuting and defense attorneys. 

The prosecution has rested. The prosecution called five of a possible eight witnesses.

The defense has also now rested.  

There is now a 15 minute break. Next on the agenda is questions from Senators followed by the closing remarks which can’t last longer than an hour for each side.


1 p.m.

The trial has restarted after a half-hour lunch break. Arnie Rummel with the North Dakota BCI, who was the supervisor over Ravnsborg’s criminal case in regards to the death of Boever, is still testifying.

Rummel has also previously testified that he believes Ravnsborg was not fully truthful during the investigation. Rummel said he didn’t believe Ravnsborg could see a sign that says Highmore on it after the crash.

Rummel said he didn’t believe it was possible to walk as much as Ravnsborg did after the crash without seeing the body.

Photos of Boever’s body from the scene won’t be shown to the public, but Prosecutor Mark Vargo wants Senators to look at a few of the photos prosecutors will make available. 

“They are not pleasant, but I do believe they are important,” Vargo said.

Rummel said he walked at night with Boever’s flashlight down the shoulder of the road. He said if the flashlight wasn’t pointed forward it would be hard to see but didn’t know why it wouldn’t be facing forward.

Rummel said the flash light could be seen from 300 feet and should have been noticed. 

“The long period of time it took him to stop made me think he was panicked about what he just did,” Rummel said.

KELOLAND’s Bob Mercer has reported Ravsnborg, who is sitting in the Senate chambers with his defense lawyers, has been shaking his head during Rummel’s testimony.

In cross examination, Butler asked what wasn’t in Rummel’s report. He asked if Rummel’s opinions were contained in his reports and if he chose to not put them in his reports.

Rummel tells Butler he’s investigated maybe three traffic deaths. 

Butler asked Rummel why sheriff Mike Volek wouldn’t have seen the body. 

Rummel said he doesn’t believe Volek walked by the body and said the sheriff admitted to him he saw a light but didn’t walk towards it. 

Rummel told Butler he spoke with Volek three times. Asked if he found him credible, Rummel responded “yes.” 

Butler says Ravnsborg told Rummel it took so long for him to stop because he didn’t want the car to flip.

Butler asked Rummel why he didn’t contact the prosecuting state attorney’s in South Dakota after the charges.  

The prosecution’s fifth witness against Ravnsborg was North Dakota BCI supervisory agent Arnie Rummel. Photo by Bob Mercer / KELOLAND News.

11:44 a.m.

The next witness is Brent Gromer, a retired agent with South Dakota DCI. Gromer said he investigated all types of felony crimes and oversaw forensic investigations.

Gromer said he was in Pierre shortly after the crash. He said he had limited contact with Ravnsborg and he never previously had a private conversation with him. 

Gromer said Ravnsborg motioned Gromer to come into another office and they talked about what evidence could be pulled from a cell phone. Gromer said Ravnsborg asked about the third-party app.

Gromer said he felt uncomfortable about discussing the facts and evidence of Ravnsborg’s crash case.

Gromer said previous testimony given by Ravnsborg’s chief of staff Tim Bormann and DCI director David Natvig was false.

In cross-examination, Butler said Ravnsborg had already turned his phones over to North Dakota agents before speaking with Gromer. Gromer said he told Ravnsborg in general what would be gained from his cell phone data.


11:15 a.m.

After a 10 minute break, Cassidy Halseth with North Dakota BCI is the next witness. He is an expert for the BCI with cyber crime and technology.

Halseth said he received consent to search Ravnsborg’s cell phone. It was an LG cell phone and it was Ravnsborg’s personal cell phone.

Halseth said he had trouble getting data from Ravnsborg cell phone and needed to use other tools for data analysis.

Halseth said the most surprising thing he found was that Ravnsborg was using a third-party application to collect rewards for not using the phone while driving. 

Halseth said Ravnsborg’s other cell phone, an iPhone, was available to extract data two days after the crash. Halseth said Ravnsborg gave that cell phone to him, himself.  

Halseth there were 20 million artifacts of data recovered from the iPhone and all sorts of data was available.

Halseth said he was able to document Ravnsborg’s travel from Pierre to the dinner in Redfield and what type of usage he had up until the 911 call. He then broke it down after the 911 call and until Ravnsborg left for Pierre. 

Halseth said the GPS data on Ravnsborg’s phone showed he was going 77 mph at certain times driving back from Redfield. Tracy asked if that shows Ravnsborg was driving faster than the “no more than 4 mph” Ravnsborg told Arenz in an interview. 

All the GPS data is documented as evidence.

In cross-examination, Butler said Ravnsborg was on his phone in a call with his dad while driving back from Redfield.

Butler had Halseth confirm Ravnsborg’s phone was locked 90 seconds before crash impact.


10:55 a.m.

Defense attorney Mike Butler is now cross-examining Arenz. He asked why Arenz even offered the polygraph test to Ravnsborg.

“The polygraph was not going to be able to answer the question if Ravnsborg was lying,” Arenz said. 

Butler said he spoke to a polygraph expert who believed they could have used it to ask Ravnsborg if he knew he hit a human being.

Arenz said they never told Ravnsborg they would not be using a polygraph test after first offering. 


10:15 a.m.

The next witness is being called — North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Joe Arenz. Clay County state’s attorney Alexis Tracy is questioning Arenz, who filed many of the North Dakota agents’ reports on the case. He also previously spoke under oath to the House Select Committee on Investigation.

Arenz found parts of Boever’s broken eyeglass frames in Ravnsborg’s car. Arenz later interviewed Ravnsborg and said he was struck by Ravnsborg’s statement that Ravnsborg didn’t know what his car had hit.

Tracy plays a clip from Arenz’s interview with Ravnsborg about speeding and how fast drives. Ravnsborg tells Arenz he never drives more than over 4 mph. 

Ravnsborg said he didn’t reach out to the family because he found out Boever’s dad had just died six weeks prior. Tracy is asking Arenz why Ravnsborg would lie about reaching out to the victim’s family to a reporter.

Arenz said a polygraph test isn’t appropriate for all cases. He said with all of the facts of the case, he did not feel the case would allow for great confidence from any polygraph results. 

The prosecution’s second witness is North Dakota BCI special agent Joe Arenz. Photo by Bob Mercer / KELOLAND News.

9:44 a.m.

Defense attorney Mike Butler is now cross-examining Kevin Kinney with the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

Butler says it was a cloudy and dark night when the crash happened and noted the top wind speed was 18 mph. Kinney said he doesn’t know how long Ravnsborg’s car was on the shoulder.

The Senate trial is resuming. The next four hours are for the prosecution to present its case. The first witness called will be Kevin Kinney with the South Dakota Highway Patrol. After taking an oath, Kinney said he’s worked for the state since 2003.

He is the director of the crash reconstruction program. Kinney says he’s done hundreds of crash reconstruction cases.

He said physics comes into play because objects want to move in a straight line. Kinney said he was the on-site supervisor for the crash reconstruction for the Ravnsborg crash. Pennington County state’s attorney Mark Vargo and Kinney are discussing Ravnsborg’s car after the crash.

Ravnsborg vehicle following Sept 2020 crash
Ravnsborg vehicle following Sept 2020 crash

Kinney said all the evidence – blood, paint chips and debris are all important to help recreate the crash. 

He said there’s high confidence Ravnsborg’s crash happened on the shoulder and the crash happened closer to the grass of the ditch.

Kinney said Ravnsborg’s car would need 175 feet if he started braking his car immediately. The actual stopping distance was 600+ feet after the crash.


9:05 a.m.

Mike Butler, a Sioux Falls lawyer, is speaking and is addressing the two counts Ravnsborg is facing from the House resolution. 

Butler emphasized there’s been no finding that Ravnsborg was criminally culpable for the death of Mr. Boever.

“Folks, he called 911 and they dispatched sheriff Volek,” Butler said, adding Volek did not see a body and he would have walked right by the body.

Regarding the misdemeanor offense of driving outside the lane, Butler told senators, “It is insufficient for the removal of a constitutional officer.”

Butler said the details show Ravnsborg cooperated with the investigation all the time. He said Ravnsborg’s cell phone was not a factor in the crash and emphasized his phone was locked 90 seconds before the crash.

Butler has mispronounced Ravnsborg’s name a few times during his opening statement.

Butler said if Ravnsborg lied, the prosecution should prove it. He said Ravnsborg had agreed to take a polygraph test. Butler said a polygraph is tool used to show if someone is deceiving or not.

“No polygraph was ever offered,” Butler said.

Butler acknowledged Ravnsborg misspoke at times. “Being mistaken is human,” Butler said. “Allegations are easily made, and it is especially true today.”

Butler said Senators shouldn’t be in Pierre. 

“Undue influence was brought to bear on the prosecutors,” Butler said. “I trust that the line has been drawn and that will not occur here.”

Butler said the public may not understand the standard of proof that needs to be met for impeachment. 

Defense attorney Michael Butler focused on the specific articles of impeachment brought by the House. Photo by Bob Mercer / KELOLAND News.

8:45 a.m.

Attorney Ross Garber, defending Ravnsborg, is now speaking. He said only eight governors and five elected officials throughout the United States have ever been removed from office by impeachment.

“This is incredibly rare,” said Garber, who has a Washington D.C. law firm and has worked for other governors facing impeachment proceedings.

He pointed out South Dakota has never impeached an elected official until Ravnsborg. He also said he’s found no record in the modern era of an attorney general being removed.

“What you do could have implications for government for South Dakota,” Garber told Senators.

He said every four years South Dakota voters vote on the attorney general and there’s fixed four-year terms.

“We trust the voters to make decisions,” Garber said. “Every four years, the voters get to choose their attorney general.”

Garber said the prosecution has to prove a high standard for a reason. 

“You weigh the burden of proof,” Garber told Senators.

Ross Garber presented the opening argument in Ravnsborg’s defense. He said he’s found no record in the modern era of an attorney general being removed. Photo by Bob Mercer / KELOLAND News.

8:15 a.m.

Clay County state’s attorney Alexis Tracy is giving the opening statement for the prosecution. You can watch her full half-hour opening statement in the player above.

She said Ravnsborg’s response after the deadly September 2020 crash is the reason everyone is gathered. She said how someone responds to adversity is what matters.

Tracy described the deadly high speed crash and when Ravnsborg’s car hit Boever at 62 mph. 

“He absolutely saw the man that he struck in the moments after,” Tracy said. “The attorney general went into tunnel vision. He couldn’t bring himself to ever, in the two-minute 911 call or the three hours of two separate interviews, actually say he hit a man, he knew this fact to be true.”

Tracy noted Ravnsborg’s first words from the initial 911 call was to tell the dispatch he was the attorney general and not that he’d been in a crash.

“This was not a screeching halt,” Tracy said about how Ravnsborg slowed for seven seconds after the crash. She said he slowed to a stop and collected his thoughts before calling 911.

Tracy said former Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek, who has since died, conducted a “mediocre investigation, at best.”

Tracy said the prosecution won’t share photos of Boever’s body after the crash but she encouraged Senators to look at them. She pointed out Ravnsborg and his chief of staff Tim Bormann left the crime scene after finding the body to go to the sheriff’s house.

Tracy tells Senators why Ravnsborg committed “malfeasance in office.” She said the AG had multiple opportunities “to do the right thing.” She said it is a crime for any person to lie to law enforcement. 

She cites state law that says “an attorney needs to have good, moral character.” She emphasized the attorney general is the state’s top attorney and set standards for all law enforcement officers. 

“To quote Uncle Ben, ‘with great power, comes great responsibility,'” Tracy said, in a reference to a Spiderman movie.

Clay County state’s attorney Alexis Tracy began the prosecution’s opening statement, saying Ravnsborg went into “tunnel vision” when his car hit and killed pedestrian Joe Boever. Photo by Bob Mercer / KELOLAND News.

8 a.m.

The Senate trial has started. You can watch the stream in the player above. Roll is being called.

Sen. Julie Frye-Muller (R-Rapid City) and Red Dawn Foster (D-Pine Ridge) were not in attendance.

According to the Senate rules for the trial, the oath to be administered is as follows: “I solemnly swear (or affirm) to act fairly as presiding officer of the Senate sitting as a court of impeachment, to the best of my ability.”

Senators also took an oath.

Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden said there will be a number of breaks. He asked for people in the audience and in the Senate to remain silent.


7:50 a.m.

Senators received special passes for their guests at the proceeding to sit in a reserved area of the gallery at the rear of the horseshoe-shaped chamber. News media will have reserved working areas on each side of the gallery.

There is no air-conditioning in the Senate chamber as lawmakers gather.

Three legislative meeting rooms with air conditioning will carry a livestream of the proceeding for those who can’t get seats or don’t want to be in the summer heat of the gallery area.


7:36 a.m.

Members of the Senate are gathering at the Capitol in Pierre. KELOLAND’s Bob Mercer also spotted Ravnsborg speaking with Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden, former Lt. Gov. Matt Michels who will advise Rhoden as presiding officer and his defense attorney Michael Butler.

Ravnsborg is sitting with his defense lawyers but is not expected to speak or testify throughout the trial.


Who will be involved in the trial? 

Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden will be the presiding officer for the trial and issued the subpoenas for eight witnesses called on by the prosecution in the name of the Senate.

Arguing for impeachment will be Pennington County state’s attorney Mark Vargo and Clay County state’s attorney Alexis Tracy. 

Ravnsborg, who has said he is not guilty for the two counts of impeachment against him, hired Sioux Falls lawyer Michael Butler to represent him during the trial. Attorney Ross Garber will also assist the defense.

SD Senate chambers Ravnsborg impeachment
Prosecutors Mark Vargo and Alexis Tracy, working from the area directly in front of what would otherwise be the Senate press box, will present the case against Ravnsborg, who will be defended by Michael Butler on the other side of the chamber. (Bob Mercer)

Who are the witnesses? 

Many of the witnesses have previously given testimony to the House Select Committee on Investigation regarding the Ravnsborg criminal and crash investigation.

The official listing from the Senate names the following people as possible witnesses for the prosecution: John Daily (Jackson Hole Scientific Investigations), John Berndt (South Dakota Highway Patrol), Kevin Kinney (South Dakota Highway Patrol), Cassidy Halseth (North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation), Joe Arenz (North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation), Arnie Rummel (North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation), Brent Gromer (retired from South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation) and Tyler Neuharth (retired South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation). 

What will Senators be voting on? 

Votes on the articles of impeachment will happen after the closing remarks from the prosecution and respondent. 

According to rules established, Senators will take a vote on each article of impeachment. A two-thirds majority of 24 Senators is required to convict Ravnsborg and remove him from office. If the vote of 24 is reached on either count of impeachment, a third vote will be held to bar Ravnsborg from holding any office with the state again.