PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Supreme Court has disciplined a lawyer.

The justices on Thursday announced they have suspended Ronald R. Frauenshuh of Watertown for 30 days.

They said he violated rules of professional conduct, specifically fairness and impartiality, and committed misconduct.

The suspension results from actions during a Lincoln County criminal trial in 2020. He failed to follow the judge’s directions and she declared a mistrial. At the second trial, he again violated the judge’s evidentiary ruling. The jury returned not-guilty verdicts on the charges.

The prosecutor then filed a complaint against Frauenshuh with the State Bar of South Dakota’s disciplinary board.

The disciplinary board recommended a three-month suspension. A referee appointed by the Supreme Court agreed. He had previously been disciplined six times in Minnesota, during the period of 1990 to 2001.

Chief Justice Steven Jensen wrote the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend him for 30 days.

“His willful refusal to comply with clear orders and directives of the court are in and of themselves prejudicial to the administration of justice. Frauenshuh’s behavior in both trials also impacted the ability of the State and the victim to receive a fair trial. Additionally, the mistrial and the effect of Frauenshuh’s actions delayed resolution for the parties and gave the dismissed
jurors a poor impression of attorneys, undermining their confidence in the justice system,” the chief justice stated.

He added, “Frauenshuh’s unprofessional misconduct in the criminal proceedings and his prior misconduct in Minnesota are also exacerbated by his failure to take responsibility for his actions. Before the Referee, and more so before the Board, Frauenshuh was unapologetic for his actions. Frauenshuh also failed to apologize or express remorse to Judge Rasmussen for his conduct. Frauenshuh all but told the Board that he did not need to follow Judge Rasmussen’s rulings because he did not believe they were correct. He also claimed he did not seek clarification from
Judge Rasmussen because he perceived that she was ‘terse’ with him when he asked a prior question. Frauenshuh’s insistence before the Referee that there was ambiguity in the clear court order and his suggestion that it was Judge Rasmussen’s fault he did not seek clarification raise serious concerns about his willingness to comply with court orders going forward.

“In his statement to this Court, Frauenshuh started with an apology, but then shifted blame to his ‘difficult client.’ Contrary to Frauenshuh’s apparent belief, it was his responsibility to follow the court’s order and advise his client that she could appeal a ruling with which she disagreed. Frauenshuh’s suggestion that his client instructed him to defy a court order provides no justification for his conduct,” the chief justice continued.