October 3, 2017
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
MINNEHAHA COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE SUSAN M. SABERS
J. JACKLEY Attorney General JOHN M. STROHMAN Assistant
Attorney General Pierre, South Dakota Attorneys for plaintiff
J. BLOUIN of Minnehaha County Public Defender's Office
Sioux Falls, South Dakota Attorneys for defendant and
Edward Draskovich was convicted of threatening a judicial
officer and disorderly conduct as a result of statements he
made in the Minnehaha County Courthouse. The circuit court
ruled the statements were "true threats" rather
than speech protected by the First Amendment. We affirm.
and Procedural History
The facts are largely undisputed. Draskovich was convicted in
magistrate court of driving under the influence of alcohol,
and his pro se appeal to the circuit court was dismissed
after he failed to file a brief. On March 7, 2016, he went to
the Minnehaha County Courthouse to inquire about a work
permit and to collect the bond he had posted. He entered the
clerk of courts office and spoke about his bond with
accounting clerk April Allenstein. Allenstein had seen
Draskovich in the office on prior occasions, and she
testified that he was usually "yelling or speaking
loudly" because he was often angry about his case. She
described him as "angry and frustrated" when he
visited on March 7. Allenstein informed Draskovich that she
could not return his bond because the order to do so was not
yet signed by the judge. Draskovich then went to another
counter to ask about a work permit to drive an automobile.
Allenstein testified that she did not "think he got a
good answer down there either."
After receiving these unfavorable responses, Draskovich
returned to Allenstein and proclaimed: "Now I see why
people shoot up courthouses." Draskovich then stepped
toward the door, opened it, and said: "Not that I
would." Allenstein was "startled and alarmed."
She said Draskovich had never made a statement like that
before. As soon as Draskovich left the office, Allenstein
informed security of the incident.
Draskovich then went upstairs to the court-administration
office to obtain other documents. He spoke with Brittan
Anderson. Anderson said Draskovich was "agitated."
When she informed Draskovich that he would have to get copies
of his documents from the clerk of courts office, Draskovich
began to complain that Judge Mark Salter would not give
Draskovich his work permit. Anderson attempted to diffuse his
anger by informing him that it was not Judge Salter's
fault because Draskovich could not receive a work permit by
law until he completed treatment. Draskovich then proclaimed,
"Well, that deserves 180 pounds of lead between the
eyes, " and he left the office. Anderson informed the
court administrator of the incident, and security arrived to
take her statement. At trial, Anderson testified that she was
shocked and surprised by Draskovich's statement. She
believed that the statement was directed at Judge Salter. She
testified that "no one has ever threatened a judge like
that before" and that she had "never heard an
The following day, Detective Adam Zishka called Draskovich to
discuss the incidents. Draskovich was still angry and
frustrated. With respect to the statement made to Allenstein,
And you wonder why people f***ing come in to these buildings
and f***ing go postal and start shooting people . . . because
their f***ing dealing with this kind of bull****! That's
not f***ing threatening anybody, that's stating the
f***ing facts of the world!
Draskovich also conceded that he had made the statement to
Anderson, but clarified that what he actually said was:
"There's a good cure for that [inability to issue a
work permit] and it's 140 grains of lead."
Draskovich was charged with threatening a judicial officer
based on his statement in the court administrator's
office. See SDCL 22-11-15. He was also charged with
disorderly conduct based on his ...