S.D. Supreme Court holds public hearing on proposals including parent-time commission

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — No one stepped forward Tuesday to speak against the South Dakota Supreme Court’s potential new rule establishing a statewide commission on noncustodial parenting time.

There also wasn’t any opposition to a proposal that would let state judges under certain circumstances, such as an election or a recall, issue public comments about their past decisions in response to criticism.

No one spoke for or against a proposal that would let judges and lawyers in certain circumstances alert potential victims or others, if a lawyer or law student in an otherwise confidential proceeding has expressed a desire to commit harm to her/himself or others.

Whether the court accepts any of the proposals will be decided at a later time, Chief Justice David Gilbertson said.

The chief justice told the handful of observers that the Supreme Court allows opponents to testify first at hearings on proposed rules, so that supporters of a change knew the focus of the argument.

Greg Sattizahn, state courts administrator, spoke favorably about both the noncustodial parent-time commission and letting judges respond to criticism.

Sattizahn said the Legislature directed the court to hold parent-time hearings. He said the seven-member panel would be patterned on the child-support commission and would hold at least three hearings in 2021.

The Supreme Court would appoint three slots: A member of the judiciary; a lawyer from the South Dakota State Bar; and a professional in the field of child development.

The governor would have two slots to fill of a custodial parent and a non-custodial parent.

Two members would be legislators. The House speaker would choose a person from the House, while the Senate president pro tem would choose a senator.

The key part of the legislation stated: “The Supreme Court shall establish rules pursuant to § 16-3-1 to provide for a public hearing process to review the minimum standard guidelines and to recommend any amendments deemed to be necessary.”

The final version of HB 1140 passed 62-2 in the House and 33-0 in the Senate.

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