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JHA Wins Landmark Constitutional Victory in South Dakota Supreme Court

Johnson Heidepriem & Abdallah LLP is pleased to announce that the South Dakota Supreme Court has ruled in favor of one of its pro bono clients in a landmark decision affirming the constitutional right to due process in city administrative hearings.

Sioux Falls resident Dan Daily had challenged the fairness of the administrative appeal procedures employed against him by the City of Sioux Falls. Among other things, Daily believed that the City had improperly placed the burden of proof on him, effectively creating an unconstitutional presumption that a citizen has violated any ordinance for which they have been cited. The City had been unconstitutionally reversing the burden of proof in all administrative proceedings involving its citizens for many years.

After Daily prevailed in circuit court, the City appealed from the order to the South Dakota Supreme Court. Attorney Ron Parsons, head of JHA's appellate department, agreed to represent Daily pro bono, or free of charge, because of the importance of the case to the rights of all South Dakota residents.

JHA successfully argued the case on behalf of Daily at the State Capitol in Pierre before the South Dakota Supreme Court, which unanimously affirmed the trial court's order finding that the City's procedures violated the constitutional right to due process.

As the Supreme Court explained: "Because the hearing examiner in this case did not hold the City to its burden of proof, the City's administrative appeals process deprived Daily of a protected property interest without due process of law."

As a result of this historic decision, the City Attorney's Office in Sioux Falls has announced that it has already made fundamental changes to revise its administrative appeals process in order to bring it in line with the Supreme Court's decision. And all cities and other local governments in South Dakota will be required to ensure that their administrative procedures comply with constitutional requirements.

"This is a victory for basic fairness and good government," said Parsons. "Dan Daily has done a tremendous service for us all."

Daily v. City of Sioux Falls, South Dakota Supreme Court, App. No. 25715

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