Sharpfish and Timeliness of Appeals –
The South Dakota Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Sharpfish is an important reminder of procedural defaults and the importance of not missing filing deadlines. A defendant challenged the admissibility of evidence in his case. He was unsuccessful at the trial level, and subsequently convicted of Driving Under the Influence 2nd Offense. He thereafter appealed his conviction and his motion challenging the admissibility of evidence from magistrate court to circuit court. The circuit court reversed the decision and vacated the conviction. Thereafter, the prosecution sought to appeal the circuit judge’s decision to the South Dakota Supreme Court (an appeal of an appeal). There was one problem: the prosecution failed to file their petition for appeal within ten days as required by state law. The South Dakota Supreme Court is strict about failure to adhere to filing deadlines, because otherwise, they lack jurisdiction (authority to hear the appeal). Rather than reach the merits of the original issue, the Supreme Court summarily dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
When you retain an attorney, you need to be sure not only that your attorney understands and can adhere to deadlines, but can also respond appropriately when the opposing side fails to meet theirs.