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State v. Stenstrom

Supreme Court of South Dakota

September 27, 2017

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
LEE ANN STENSTROM, Defendant and Appellant.

          ARGUED FEBRUARY 14, 2017

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT MINNEHAHA COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA, THE HONORABLE ROBIN J. HOUWMAN Judge.

          MARTY J. JACKLEY Attorney General KELLY MARNETTE Assistant Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

          MARK KADI of Minnehaha County Office of the Public Advocate Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Attorneys for defendant and appellant.

          OPINION

          GILBERTSON, CHIEF JUSTICE.

         [¶1.] Lee Ann Stenstrom appeals her termination from the drug-court program and subsequent revocation of suspension of execution of a four-year sentence. Stenstrom argues the drug court[1] violated her statutory and constitutional rights to due process and counsel by denying her request to permit her attorney to attend drug-court-team meetings. She also argues her termination from the drug-court program was error. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2.] Stenstrom was initially arrested on July 1, 2014, in connection with a law-enforcement investigation into possible drug dealing at the Power Keeno Casino in Sioux Falls. Stenstrom was in possession of a hypodermic needle and a plastic "snort tube" containing methamphetamine. A grand jury indicted her on a variety of charges, but she was released from jail on a personal-recognizance bond.[2]

         [¶3.] Stenstrom subsequently failed to appear for a pretrial conference hearing on November 6, and the court issued a bench warrant for her arrest. She was again arrested and released on personal recognizance. She failed to appear for another pretrial conference hearing on January 21, 2015. Another bench warrant was issued, and Stenstrom was arrested for a third time on February 14. Following this arrest, she was charged with failing to appear as well as additional, felony drug charges.

         [¶4.] On April 27, Judge Patricia Riepel arraigned Stenstrom. Pursuant to an agreement with the State, Stenstrom pleaded guilty to one count of possessing a controlled substance (a Class 5 felony). In exchange, the State agreed to drop the other offenses charged in the indictment, Stenstrom's failure to appear, and the additional drug charges arising out of the February 14 arrest. The agreement also required Stenstrom to successfully complete the drug-court program. The circuit court imposed a four-year sentence on Stenstrom but suspended its execution on the condition that Stenstrom complete the drug-court program and undergo three years of supervised probation.

         [¶5.] Stenstrom was released on May 1, 2015, and was directed to reside at a sober-living house used by drug-court participants. Four days later, Stenstrom left the house and failed to return. She then failed to attend both a drug-court hearing and a meeting with her court-services officer on May 7. Another warrant was issued for her arrest. On July 14, Stenstrom was arrested on the warrant and for possessing a controlled substance. The next day, she told her court-services officer that she had used methamphetamine and marijuana during her absence from the sober-living house. A subsequent urinalysis confirmed her confession.

         [¶6.] On July 23, 2015, the drug-court team met to consider whether Stenstrom should be terminated from the drug-court program. The next day, Stenstrom's court-services officer filed a drug-court termination report alleging Stenstrom violated the requirements of the drug-court program by leaving the sober-living house, failing to appear in drug court, failing to meet with her court-services officer, using methamphetamine and marijuana, and by committing an additional drug offense. Even so, Stenstrom was permitted to remain in the program, and she was released from custody on August 28.

         [¶7.] Stenstrom continued to struggle with meeting the program's requirements. On August 29, Stenstrom met with her court-services officer, who noticed alcohol in Stenstrom's residence. Stenstrom admitted to consuming alcohol, and she blew a 0.029 on a preliminary breath test (PBT). On September 8, 2015, Stenstrom was placed in the 24/7 Sobriety Program. She was required to refrain from using alcohol or drugs. She failed another PBT on September 20, registering a 0.040. On September 28, a drug test indicated she had used methamphetamine at some point in the previous two weeks.

         [¶8.] On October 2, 2015, Stenstrom was placed at the Changes and Choices halfway house. On October 16, she informed her court-services officer that she was frustrated by the rules at the halfway house. She was also upset because her roommate had been romantically involved with an individual who killed Stenstrom's nephew in 2003. The officer told Stenstrom that he would address her concerns with the ...


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