SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Now that the South Dakota Supreme Court has agreed with a circuit court ruling to unseal search warrant affidavits related to an investigation into T. Denny Sanford, a natural follow-up question emerges: what could these affidavits tell us about the investigation?
The First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard owner, who has given hundreds of millions of dollars to the Sanford Health system that now bears his name, was never charged in a 2020 investigation into possession and distribution of child pornography. His lawyers wanted the court to keep search warrants for the case sealed. Following the state Supreme Court’s decision, the media and the public could have access to search warrant affidavits this month.
“Regularly throughout criminal courts in the South Dakota judicial system, affidavits signed by law enforcement are treated as sworn statements,” said Rapid City trial lawyer Robbie Rohl, who has followed the case. “That’s a statement that a law enforcement officer is held to.”
Rohl doesn’t speculate on what the search warrant affidavits might contain, but he does point out what the documents can do.
“I can’t say that it will necessarily lend information to why charges weren’t pursued, of course again I’d like to believe it’s because there was no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing, but it will tell you where law enforcement’s perspective was at at the time those affidavits were submitted to a judge for signature, and they had to contain at least some degree of particularity as to the information sought and why,” Rohl said.
Rohl says the affidavits may also give us a better idea of how this case proceeded.
“Of course, I don’t know how or why this investigation came about, I don’t think anybody does at this point in time,” Rohl said. “But it should at least help everybody who has an opportunity to review them get some type of understanding as to why this investigation occurred.”
The Minnehaha County Clerk of Courts office tells KELOLAND News that if there is no petition for a rehearing, the documents would return to the circuit court to be released late this month.