South Dakota Amendment E, the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (2006)

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South Dakota Amendment E (2006) also known as Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (J.A.I.L.), was on the November 7, 2006 ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was overwhelmingly defeated. It was an attempt to amend the South Dakota Constitution to create a 'Special Grand Jury' to hear cases of alleged judicial misconduct.

Election results

South Dakota Amendment E (2006)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No294,73489.2%
Yes 35,641 10.8%

Election Results via: South Dakota Secretary of State

Ballot wording

Citizens serving on juries, school boards, city councils, county commissions, or in similar capacities, and prosecutors and judges, are all required to make judicial decisions. Their decisions may be reversed on appeal, or they may be removed from office for misconduct or by election. However, they cannot be made to pay money damages for making such decisions. This allows them to do their job without fear of threat or reprisal from either side.

The proposed amendment to the State Constitution would allow thirteen special grand jurors to expose these decision makers to fines and jail, and strip them of public insurance coverage and up to one-half of their retirement benefits, for making decisions which break rules defined by the special grand jurors. Special grand jurors are drawn from those who submit their names and registered voters.
The proposed amendment is retroactive. The special grand jurors may penalize any decision-maker still alive for decisions made many years ago.
If approved, the proposed amendment will likely be challenged in court and may be declared to be in violation of the US Constitution. If so, the State may be required to pay attorneys fees and costs. A vote “Yes” will change the Constitution.

A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.[1]

Proponents

The group South Dakota Judicial Accountability worked on the effort to get Amendment E on the 2006 ballot. Some of the reasons they are in favor of the initiative include the perception that there is currently no way to hold a judge accountable should they violate someone's rights, and that there is no way to get rid of corrupt judges one at a time because the whole system is corrupt[2].

Opponents

Opposition to Amendment E comes from various groups[3] indicating concern that the measure is further-reaching than appropriate[4], and that it has the potential to result in many lawsuits against judges stemming from convicted criminals seeking retribution.

Campaign finance

Donors to the campaign for the measure:[5]

  • South Dakota Judicial Accountability Campaign: $225,626
  • Total: $225,626

Donors to the campaign against the measure:

  • No on E Coalition: $1,099,049
  • Total: $1,099,049
  • Overall Total: $1,324,675

See also

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