Noem supports using grand jury to speed up Ravnsborg investigation

PIERRE, S.D. (Gov. Kristi Noem would support using a grand jury to decide whether charges should be filed against Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg over the fatal car crash he was involved in last summer.

Prosecutors have been reviewing evidence in the Sept. 12 crash, in which Ravnsborg struck and killed 55-year-old Joseph Boever on Highway 14 west of Highmore. Noem and others have been critical that no decision has been made by prosecutors about whether Ravnsborg should face criminal charges.

“Gov. Noem would absolutely support empaneling a grand jury if it can help bring a speedy resolution to this case,” Noem spokesman Ian Fury said in an email to the Argus Leader. “As the governor has repeatedly said, it is a grave disservice to Mr. Boever’s family that this issue has not been resolved.”

The attorney general is the top prosecutor for the state, and since the Sept. 12 crash, Ravnsborg has been waiting to see if he, himself, will be prosecuted. He has said publicly he did not commit a crime.

Ravnsborg’s fate is in the hands of Deputy State’s Attorney Emily Sovell, Sovell is also consulting with Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore and Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo.

Moore, who said the team is still awaiting cell phone data and biological evidence last week, also said Monday the case isn’t ready to present to a grand jury.

“The first thing a prosecutor has to decide is if they have a case they can prosecute,” Moore said.

Prosecutors can use grand juries or complaints to file charges. Grand juries meet in secret and determine whether there is enough probable cause to indict a person of a crime. If a person is charged with a complaint, the grand jury process is skipped and a preliminary hearing is held before a judge to determine if there is enough probable cause to merit prosecution.

Either of those procedures could be used in Ravnsborg’s case. But Moore said prosecutors have to be confident they have enough evidence of a crime before presenting a case to a grand jury or a judge. He said a prosecutor shouldn’t present a case to a grand jury that they aren’t confident in because the grand jury might still vote to indict, which would trigger a prosecution.

“Then what do I do? I think the case is crap,” he said.

But a prosecutor would then be stuck having to file charges.

“You’re basically doing something unethical if you don’t think there’s enough to sustain a conviction,” he added.