Bill Janklow

(Redirected from William J. Janklow)

William John Janklow (September 13, 1939 – January 12, 2012) was an American lawyer and politician and member of the Republican Party who holds the record for the longest tenure as Governor of South Dakota: sixteen years in office. Janklow had the third-longest gubernatorial tenure in post-Constitutional U.S. history at 5,851 days.[1]

Bill Janklow
Bill Janklow (cropped).jpg
Portrait, c. 2003
27th and 30th Governor of South Dakota
In office
January 7, 1995 – January 3, 2003
LieutenantCarole Hillard
Preceded byWalter Dale Miller
Succeeded byMike Rounds
In office
January 1, 1979 – January 6, 1987
LieutenantLowell Hansen
Preceded byHarvey Wollman
Succeeded byGeorge S. Mickelson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's at-large district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 20, 2004
Preceded byJohn Thune
Succeeded byStephanie Herseth Sandlin
25th Attorney General of South Dakota
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 1, 1979
GovernorRichard Kneip
Harvey Wollman
Preceded byKermit Sande
Succeeded byMark Meierhenry
Personal details
William John Janklow

(1939-09-13)September 13, 1939
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJanuary 12, 2012(2012-01-12) (aged 72)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, U.S.
Resting placeBlack Hills National Cemetery
Political partyRepublican
SpouseMary Dean Thom
EducationUniversity of South Dakota (BS, JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Marine Corps
Years of service1956–1959
RankPrivate First Class
Unit3rd Marine Division
Battles/warsSecond Taiwan Strait Crisis
Awards823 Badge of Honor (Taiwan)

Janklow served as the 25th Attorney General of South Dakota from 1975 to 1979 before serving as the state's 27th Governor from 1979 to 1987 and then the 30th Governor from 1995 to 2003. Janklow was then elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served for a little more than a year. He resigned in 2004 after being convicted of manslaughter for his culpability in a fatal automobile crash.

Early life, education, and military serviceEdit

Janklow was born in Chicago, Illinois. When Janklow was 10 years old his father died of a heart attack while working as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials in Germany.[2] His mother moved the family back to the United States, and in 1954 when Janklow was 15, they settled in her home town of Flandreau, South Dakota.[3]

In 1955, Janklow's repeated acts of juvenile delinquency landed him in court.[4] A judge gave him two options—reform school or the military.[3] Janklow dropped out of high school and joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1956.[3] He attended basic training at Camp Pendleton, California.[5] He was then trained as a personnel clerk and assigned to the 3rd Marine Division at Camp Kinser, Okinawa.[6] He was part of the Marine contingent that participated in the U.S. response to the 1958 Quemoy-Matsu international crisis.[7] Janklow was shot in the leg while he was part of a detachment that was delivering cannons to Taiwanese troops, and received an honorable discharge as a private first class in 1959.[4][7][8] In 1999, the government of Taiwan presented Janklow the 823 Badge of Honor, an award created to commemorate the Quemoy-Matsu conflict, which began on August 23, 1958.[8]

After leaving the Marines, Janklow began attendance at the University of South Dakota.[7] When administrators discovered he lacked a high school diploma, Janklow convinced them to let him remain at the university if he maintained good grades.[7] He graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration.[7]

Legal careerEdit

Janklow went on to earn a J.D. at the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1966. He then worked as Legal Services lawyer for six years on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, advancing to direct the program there. In 1973, he was appointed chief prosecutor and chief of litigation in the South Dakota Attorney General's Office, where he "quickly earned a reputation as a top trial lawyer".[9]

Attorney General of South DakotaEdit

In 1974, Janklow was the successful Republican nominee for attorney general, and he served from 1975 to 1979. Among the highlights of his term were two cases he argued before the United States Supreme Court, South Dakota v. Opperman and Rosebud Sioux Tribe v. Kneip.[10] In Opperman, Janklow argued successfully (5 Justices to 4) that a warrantless search of a vehicle that had been impounded for a parking violation was permissible.[11] (The South Dakota Supreme Court later suppressed the search on state constitutional grounds.)[11] In Rosebud, Janklow successfully argued (6 Justices to 3) the legality of federal statutes which had reduced the size of the Rosebud Indian Reservation without regard to the provisions of existing treaties between the tribe and the federal government.[11]

First period as Governor of South DakotaEdit

Janklow (right) at the 1983 Governor's Snowmobile Ride through the Black Hills

Janklow was first elected governor in 1978. He was easily reelected in 1982 with 70.9 percent of the vote, the highest percentage won by a gubernatorial candidate in the state's history. The legislature had repealed the personal property tax the year before he took office, but did not provide a replacement revenue source. Since the personal property tax funded local governments, the legislature mandated that the state government replace the revenue. Once in office, Janklow worked with the legislature to make up the lost tax income by enacting a contractor's excise tax and reforming the franchise tax on banks. An improved economy also helped in the state's effort to make up the lost revenue.

In 1979 Janklow signed into law a bill reinstating capital punishment in South Dakota. Another initiative that year was to abolish the state's Department of Environmental Protection, allegedly because of its role in efforts by the Sioux to block resource development in the Black Hills.[12] Janklow supported passage of legislation to remove South Dakota's limit on interest rates. This attracted banks: for instance, Citibank opened a credit card center in Sioux Falls.[13] Several states had similar laws, overturning previous policies against high rates. Under the federal banking rules a state had to formally invite a bank into their state, and South Dakota invited Citibank before other states.

Reeves v. StakeEdit

In 1980, Janklow argued Reeves, Inc. v. Stake before the U.S. Supreme Court.[11] The case had been initiated while he was attorney general, and Janklow argued it because he was the attorney in South Dakota's government who was most familiar with the details.[11] In arguing Reeves, Janklow became the first sitting governor to argue before the Supreme Court on behalf of his state.[11] Janklow was successful (5 to 4) in his argument that the state-owned cement plant could legally discriminate against out-of-state buyers in its pricing, which created the "market participant exception" to the U.S. Constitution's Dormant Commerce Clause.[11]

Railroad revitalizationEdit

When the Milwaukee Railroad went into bankruptcy, Janklow called a special session of the legislature on the issue. The state purchased the main line of the defunct railroad. The state leased its property to the Burlington Northern, thereby preserving critical railway shipping of commodities for much of the state. Janklow increased accessibility for the disabled to public and private facilities in state.[citation needed]

U.S. Senate challengeEdit

Barred by state law from running again in 1986, Janklow challenged the incumbent U.S. Senator James Abdnor in the Republican primary. Janklow lost, with Abdnor winning by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin. The primary battle was considered to weaken Abdnor, contributing to the latter's loss in the general election to Democrat Tom Daschle, then South Dakota's lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives.[citation needed]

Second period as Governor of South DakotaEdit

Janklow returned to politics in 1994, when he defeated incumbent Walter Dale Miller in the Republican gubernatorial primary. He was handily elected that year and was reelected in 1998. In his second two terms, he cut property taxes for homeowners and farmers by 30 percent, but was able to make up the revenue loss caused by the voters' repealing the inheritance tax.[14] Janklow is the longest-serving governor in South Dakota history. He was at the time the only person in the state's history to serve eight full years as governor, which he did twice. Since then, his record has been equaled by Mike Rounds, who served two full terms as governor from 2003 to 2011, and Dennis Daugaard, who served from 2011 to 2019.


The Associated Press, in conjunction with the Sioux Falls newspaper Argus Leader, filed a request to obtain information on pardons granted by Janklow between 1995 and 2002 per state law that requires the release of records classified as public by the legislature when requested by an entity. Reporters found that the pardons did not follow the statutory process, which requires pardons to be reviewed by an independent commission. Among Janklow's pardons was one for his son-in-law for convictions for drunk driving and marijuana possession.[15]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

From 2003's Congressional Pictorial Directory of the 108th Congress

In 2002, Janklow ran for the Republican nomination for South Dakota's only House seat. He defeated the Democratic candidate, Stephanie Herseth, an attorney, by a vote of 180,023 to 153,656.

Vehicular manslaughterEdit

On August 16, 2003, Janklow was involved in a fatal traffic collision while driving his car, when he failed to stop at an intersection near Trent, South Dakota. Janklow ran through a stop sign, and collided with motorcyclist Randy Scott.[16] Scott, a 55-year-old Minnesotan, was thrown from his motorcycle and killed instantly. Janklow's vehicle traveled 300 feet beyond the point of impact and hit a sign in a field. He suffered a broken hand and bleeding on the brain. In the ensuing investigation, officials determined Janklow was driving at least 70 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone and that he ran a stop sign at the intersection where the crash occurred.[17]

Janklow was arraigned on August 29, and said he "couldn't be sorrier" for the crash. His trial began on December 1. In his defense, his lawyer said that he suffered a bout of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and was "confused" and "mixed up".[18] Janklow testified that he had taken an insulin shot the morning of the crash and had not eaten anything throughout the day.[19] Medical witnesses said this could result in low blood sugar, which might cause disorientation.[19]

Robert O'Shea, an accident reconstruction expert, testified that he estimated the Congressman's speed to be 63 or 64 miles per hour at the time of impact, judging from details from the electronic data recorder of the Cadillac and "his own analysis".[20] The State Highway Patrol investigator had said in testimony that he estimated Janklow's speed as "at least 70 mph". From his analysis, O'Shea said Scott's motorcycle's speed may have been as much as 65 mph; this was in contrast to the Highway Patrol's estimate of 59.[20][21]

Most of Janklow's previous driving record was suppressed at the trial,[19] but the superintendent of the state highway patrol reported publicly that Janklow had 16 traffic stops during his last term as governor for which he was not ticketed, out of both "respect for his authority" and a "fear of retribution".[22] From 1990 to 1994, Janklow had 12 speeding tickets, with fines totaling $1000.[22][23] Two troopers were allowed to testify that they had stopped Janklow for speed in excess of 80 miles per hour while driving on rural roads, but had opted to issue him written warnings rather than traffic citations.[19]

On December 8, 2003, Janklow was convicted by a Moody County jury of second-degree manslaughter, a felony, as well as the misdemeanors of speeding, running a stop sign, and reckless driving.[24] A month later, he resigned his seat in Congress effective January 20, 2004.[25] On January 22, Janklow was sentenced to spend 100 days in jail.[26] After 30 days, he was able to leave the jail for several hours each day in order to perform community service.[27] He was released on May 17, 2004.[28]

Scott's family sued Janklow for damages, but the court ruled that because Janklow was on official business at the time, he was protected from any monetary claims by the Federal Tort Claims Act, which ascribes liability to the government as opposed to the individual who is acting in a governmental capacity. In July 2006, Scott's family filed a $25 million wrongful death suit against the U.S. government. The lawsuit was settled for $1 million on May 14, 2008.


Jancita Eagle DeerEdit

In 1974, a month before the election for state attorney general for which Janklow was a candidate, Jancita Eagle Deer filed a petition through her attorney Larry Leventhal and tribal advocate Dennis Banks to disbar Janklow to keep him from practicing in tribal court. According to Banks, in early 1967, Eagle Deer, then a 15-year-old Lakota schoolgirl at the Rosebud Boarding School on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, reported to her school principal that Janklow, her legal guardian and for whom she was working as a babysitter, had raped her on January 13.[29]

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), then responsible for law enforcement on the reservation, allegedly sent the police investigation case file of the rape (for which it had custody) to its Aberdeen, South Dakota office to keep it away from the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court.[30]

Judge Mario Gonzalez of the Rosebud Indian Reservation tribal court granted Eagle Deer's petition to disbar Janklow from practicing law on the Rosebud Reservation. At the request of Eagle Deer's attorneys, the tribal court "issued a misdemeanor arrest warrant for Janklow based on sworn testimony on Eagle Deer's behalf (since it was generally believed at the time that tribal courts had jurisdiction over non-Indians)", but no arrest was made.[30] Janklow denied all allegations connected with the rape case, and no criminal charges were filed.

In 1975, Janklow was investigated by the FBI before being nominated as a candidate for appointment to the board of the Legal Services Corporation. The White House Counsel under President Gerald Ford forwarded its recommendation to the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying its investigation of the rape case concluded there was insufficient evidence.[31] Ford's appointment of Janklow, to LSC's board as its first president was later confirmed by the Senate.

In April 1975, Jancita Eagle Deer was killed at night in a hit-and-run collision in southern Nebraska. After her death, Jancita's step-mother, Delphine Eagle Deer, sister of Leonard Crow Dog, advocated on the young woman's behalf. Delphine Eagle Deer was murdered in an as yet unsolved case about nine months later in 1976.[32]

Libel suitsEdit

In the 1980s, Janklow filed libel suits against the author Peter Matthiessen and Viking Press for a statement included in the book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (1983), and another suit against Newsweek magazine for its coverage of the alleged rape. The publications had included statements of Dennis Banks, founder and leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM). In each case, the courts upheld the freedom of speech principle for the authors and publishers under the First Amendment.[citation needed]

Matthiessen included a statement by Banks about the rape accusation, as well as allegations that during the same period, Janklow had been arrested on the Rosebud reservation for driving drunk and shooting pet dogs. Janklow, by then serving as governor, sued both the author and publisher Viking Press for libel, which delayed publication of the paperback version of the book until 1992.[30][31][33][34] Janklow's complaint, referring to the statement by Banks about rape, "cited a 1975 letter from Philip Buchen, head of the Office of Counsel to the President of the United States, to the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, saying that three Federal investigations found the allegations against him 'simply unfounded.' The Senate committee was considering Mr. Janklow's nomination as a director of the Legal Services Corporation..."[31]

Janklow's suits were dismissed based on First Amendment protection of free speech. He filed a libel suit against Newsweek based on an article in the weekly's February 21, 1983, issue that included the disputed passage by Dennis Banks.[31] Janklow v. Newsweek Inc. (1986), was brought before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit en banc appealing the decision of the Hon. John B. Jones, United States District Judge for the District of South Dakota, that Newsweek magazine had not defamed Janklow. The lower court's decision was affirmed by the appeals court, with BOWMAN, Circuit Judge, joined by ROSS and FAGG, Circuit Judges, dissenting.[35]

Post-political careerEdit

After January 5, 2006 (effective February 2006), when the South Dakota Supreme Court granted his petition for early reinstatement of his license to practice law, Janklow worked as an attorney. In spring 2006, the Mayo Clinic retained him to lobby against the DM&E Railroad expansion. He also represented landowners who were seeking reimbursement from the railroad for the taking of their property.

Death and legacyEdit

On November 4, 2011, Janklow announced during a press conference that he had terminal brain cancer.[36] He died at a hospice care facility in Sioux Falls on January 12, 2012, aged 72.[37] Governor Dennis Daugaard ordered that flags across the state be flown at half staff.[38] Janklow was buried at Sturgis, South Dakota's Black Hills National Cemetery, Section I, Site 127.[39]

See alsoEdit


  This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

  1. ^ Ostermeier, Eric (April 10, 2013). "The Top 50 Longest-Serving Governors of All Time". Smart Politics.
  2. ^ Brokaw, Chet (January 12, 2012). "Former SD Gov., US Rep. Bill Janklow dead at 72". Associated Press. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Hetland, Cara; Mark Steil (January 21, 2004). "He just wants to win". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Janklow Found Guilty: The Life and Career of a South Dakota Icon". Argus Leader. Sioux Falls, SD. December 9, 2003. p. 8A – via
  5. ^ "Services Held Wednesday for Bill Janklow". The Burke Gazette. Burke, SD. January 18, 2012. pp. 1, 3.
  6. ^ "U.S., Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958, Entry for William J. Janklow". Lehi, UT: LLC. July 22, 1958. Retrieved July 11, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e Journal staff (January 13, 2012). "Timeline of Bill Janklow's life and career". Rapid City Journal. Rapid City, SD.
  8. ^ a b Brokaw, Chet (January 30, 1999). "Janklow Gets Medal for Taiwan Service". Rapid City Journal. Rapid City, SD. Associated Press. p. 1 – via
  9. ^ Raimo, John (1985). Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States 1978–1983. Meckler Publishing. p. 287. ISBN 0-930466-62-4.
  10. ^ "SD Attorneys General at the U.S. Supreme Court". Pierre, SD: SoDak Governors. April 13, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "SD Attorneys General at the U.S. Supreme Court".
  12. ^ Peter Mathiessen, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Viking Press, 1983
  13. ^ Lazarony, Lucy. "Credit card companies sidestep usury laws". BankRate. Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
  14. ^ Michael Barone, The Almanac of American Politics, (2006), p. 1520
  15. ^ Halberstam, David (2007). Associated Press (ed.). Breaking News: How the Associated Press Has Covered War, Peace, and Everything Else. Princeton Architectural Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-1-56898-689-0.
  16. ^ Steil, Mark (October 6, 2003). "Randy Scott remembered". Minnesota Public Radio.
  17. ^ Assoc, American Motorcyclist (1 November 2003). "American Motorcyclist". American Motorcyclist Assoc. Retrieved 1 June 2018 – via Google Books.
  18. ^ Gumbel, Andrew (December 10, 2003). "US congressman Janklow faces 11 years in jail for killing motorcyclist in road accident". The Independent. London, UK.
  19. ^ a b c d "US congressman Janklow faces 11 years in jail".
  20. ^ a b Hetland, Cara (2003-12-05). "MPR: Diabetes expert: Janklow had symptoms of low blood sugar before crash that killed motorcyclist". Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  21. ^ "Daschle testifies at Janklow's trial", RedOrbit News
  22. ^ a b National Briefing: Plains, "South Dakota: Troubled Driving Record" New York Times, July 1, 2004
  23. ^ Hetland, Cara. "Son acknowledges Janklow ran stop sign", Minnesota Public Radio, August 19, 2003. Note: In a 1999 speech to the state legislature, Janklow said, "Bill Janklow speeds when he drives – shouldn't, but he does. When he gets the ticket he pays it. If someone told me I was going to jail for two days for speeding, my driving habits would change. I can pay the ticket but I don't want to go to jail. It's that simple."
  24. ^ Hetland, Cara (December 9, 2003). "Janklow resigns from House after conviction". Minnesota Public Radio. Saint Paul, MN.
  25. ^ "Janklow resigns from House after conviction".
  26. ^ Law Center (January 22, 2004). "Janklow sentenced to 100 days in jail". CNN. Atlanta, GA.
  27. ^ Walker, Carson (January 23, 2004). "Former congressman gets jail time for traffic crash". Black Hills Pioneer. Blackfish, SD.
  28. ^ "Former Rep. Janklow released from jail". Boca Raton FL. United Press International. May 17, 2004.
  29. ^ Dennis Banks, Richard Erdoes: Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks and the Rise of the American Indian Movement, p. 274 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2005) ISBN 0-8061-3691-X
  30. ^ a b c Mario Gonzalez, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: The Politics of Hallowed Ground: Wounded Knee and the Struggle for Indian Sovereignty, University of Illinois Press, 1998, pp. 99–100
  31. ^ a b c d Edwin McDowell, "Court Battle Over Book: Viking and a Governor", New York Times, May 28, 1983
  32. ^ Steve Hendricks: The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country, Thunder Heart Press, 2007, pp. 146–157
  33. ^ Jonathon Green, Nicholas J. Karolides: The Encyclopedia of Censorship, pp. 286–289 Publisher: Facts on File; 2 Revised edition (April 2005) ISBN 0-8160-4464-3
  34. ^ Steve Hendricks: The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country, pp. 146–157
  35. ^ Janklow v. Newsweek Inc., UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT, April 10, 1986
  36. ^ "Bill Janklow has terminal brain cancer - Video Library - The Argus Le…". 17 July 2012. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  37. ^ Nachtigal, Ann (January 12, 2012). "Former South Dakota Governor Janklow dies at 72". Reuters. London, UK.
  38. ^ "Former South Dakota Governor Janklow dies at 72".
  39. ^ National Cemetery Administration. "Burial Record, William John Janklow (1939-2012)". Nationwide Gravesite Locator. Washington, DC: US Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved June 18, 2018.

External linksEdit

Legal offices
Preceded by Attorney General of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ron Schmidt
Republican nominee for Attorney General of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John E. Olson
Republican nominee for Governor of South Dakota
1978, 1982
Succeeded by
George Mickelson
Preceded by
George Mickelson
Republican nominee for Governor of South Dakota
1994, 1998
Succeeded by
Mike Rounds
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of South Dakota
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of South Dakota
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by