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Thompson v. Runner

Supreme Court of South Dakota

July 18, 2018

SARAH THOMPSON, Petitioner and Appellee,
v.
WAMBLI BEAR RUNNER, Respondent and Appellant.

          CONSIDERED ON BRIEFS ON MARCH 19, 2018

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT PENNINGTON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA THE HONORABLE JEFFREY R. CONNOLLY Judge

          SHILOH M. MACNALLY Rapid City, South Dakota Attorney for petitioner and appellee.

          KELLY M. PETERSON of Fitzgerald Law Firm Rapid City, South Dakota Attorneys for respondent and appellant.

          OPINION

          GILBERTSON, Chief Justice

         [¶1.] Sarah Thompson filed a petition for a protection order against Wambli Bear Runner for stalking under SDCL 22-19A-1. After a hearing, the circuit court granted Sarah's petition for a protection order on the grounds that some of Wambli's actions and Facebook posts concerning Sarah amounted to stalking. Wambli appeals the circuit court's order. Wambli argues: (1) the circuit court's protection order was not supported by proper findings; (2) the circuit court erred in finding that Wambli's conduct constituted stalking under SDCL 22-19A-1; and (3) the protection order is unconstitutionally vague, violating Wambli's due-process rights. We reverse and remand.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2.] Sarah and Wambli live across the street from each other in Rapid City, South Dakota, in the tight-knit community of Lakota Homes. They also attended school together at Oglala Lakota College. Sarah and Wambli first started communicating in 2014 when Sarah began dating Wambli's ex-boyfriend, Clay Ramsey. Sarah and Clay dated for only three months.

         [¶3.] On December 19, 2014, Wambli initiated a heated text conversation informing Sarah that she had recently been physically involved with Clay. Both Sarah and Wambli exchanged insults in the private text conversation. Sarah called Wambli a bad mother, and Wambli stated that Sarah was a sore loser. The conversation was short-lived and the two did not communicate further until 2016.

         [¶4.] On March 28, 2016, Wambli posted the following on Facebook:

Its funny how some "women" are obviously fake and they really can't see their actions. Mother of the year over there is sodesperate for a man she Hardly ever has her kids yet when she was living the "single" life secretly prowling, bitter and angry, she had a protection order against her ex and was using the kids against him and he couldn't even see his kids . . . now because of the her [sic] new man he has them all the time . . . i for one forever have my kids, my children are always home, I never sleep a night without them, and I'm completely involved in their lives/recreational sports yet I was called a "bad mother" by this same person . . . its none of my business what ppl do but when a person starts an argument with me . . . just know I'm hanging on to that and I'll forever be watching #yourenemy unless I get an apology!

         (Ellipses in original.)

         [¶5.] In response to this message and Wambli's past conduct, Sarah notified Wambli's employer asking it to address Wambli's alleged cyberbullying. Wambli's employer, however, stated that it does not get involved in personal matters. Wambli responded to Sarah's inquiry on April 8, 2016, by naming Sarah in another Facebook post claiming that Sarah should focus on her own life and that Sarah was ...


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