Go directly to...jail?
August 19, 2003 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Last Saturday afternoon, Rep. Bill Janklow (SD) ran a stop sign and hit and killed a motorcyclist. Janklow has a history of driving poorly. In fact, his speedy habits have been the subject of jokes in the past. Will Janklow receive special treatment because of his fame? What kind of penalty does a crime such as this deserve?
posted by graventy (34 comments total)
First on Sunday, the news reported: "the car he was riding in."
Then, those living in the area; The intersection the two highways has long been problematic, "Somebody ran a stop sign and a motorcyclist was killed," said Flandreau resident Dave Meyers. But this time, that somebody was Congressman Janklow.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:04 PM on August 19, 2003

That reminds me of totally unrelated stories of national politicians who were pulled over for drunken driving, yet occupy highly sensitive positions in our government. What's up with that?
posted by clevershark at 2:06 PM on August 19, 2003

Wait, Talbot said Janklow's 1995 Cadillac has a black box, which records information such as how fast the car was going and whether the brakes were applied.

Blood was taken from Scott and from Janklow for testing and authorities expected to get results back sometime Tuesday, Talbot said
posted by thomcatspike at 2:08 PM on August 19, 2003

We should have Hell's Angels savage his sensitive areas.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:16 PM on August 19, 2003

No one in this country receives special treatment because of fame, you damned cynic.
posted by xmutex at 2:18 PM on August 19, 2003

Well, wait a minute. I don't see where any of the linked articles imply that "Janklow has a history of driving poorly" — though both say he has a record of driving fast. Even at that, getting three speeding tickets a year for a few years is not bad, and he's had none in nine years.

Of course, if he ran the stop sign and hit the biker, fuck him.
posted by nicwolff at 2:23 PM on August 19, 2003

Actually, I've heard that the SD State Patrol did a little covering-up on Saturday. After the accident, they blocked the area off (a mile in every direction) and stories didn't mention Janklow driving until late Sunday. Of course, blocking off two fairly busy highways isn't a great way to cover up a story, but...

On preview -- Yes, nicwolff, not poorly, fast. However, that is a history of bad driving. (Since I would equate bad and breaking the law.)
posted by graventy at 2:27 PM on August 19, 2003

What kind of penalty does a crime such as this deserve?

Offhand, I'd say manslaughter. Not a lawyer, though, and I believe even politicians deserve trials and stuff.
posted by weston at 2:28 PM on August 19, 2003

I say we burn him, he's a witch!

It's terrible, it's tragic, he ran a stop sign and killed a man. Must we now take it upon ourselves to judge and convict him, quick, before the courts do?
posted by mosch at 2:36 PM on August 19, 2003

Some states have "vehicular manslaughter" for this very sort of occasion.
posted by clevershark at 2:37 PM on August 19, 2003

Well, I for one welcome our stop sign running motorcyclist killing politicians
posted by Outlawyr at 3:06 PM on August 19, 2003

These accidents have a way of working out for politicians.
posted by ed at 3:12 PM on August 19, 2003

Note to politicians: if you're going to drive like a moron, do it in-state.
posted by riviera at 4:45 PM on August 19, 2003

What kind of penalty does a crime such as this deserve?

I would say that gross negligence like such should require the permanent suspension of driving privileges. Some in this country treat driving as a right, while it most certainly is not. These massive machines can be used as weapons, and are regulated as such. I think just tapping someone should be immediate suspension for 3-5 years, and killing someone? Life without driving.
posted by benjh at 4:45 PM on August 19, 2003

Some in this country treat driving as a right, while it most certainly is not

This is tangential, but that kind of thinking bugs me. Some in this country (the US) think the ability to do something is derived through the divine benevolence of the king (or law maker or whatever) which it most certainly is not.

We're born with an absolute right to do anything and everything. We get together and abdicate some of those rights because that makes society work which makes life better.

I'll buy that driving carries the potential for high consequences - particularly if everybody isn't on the same page, so maybe it stands to be regulated more than other activities like say eating or walking. But to describe it as a privilege inverts the relationship of the people to the government in a way that invalidates everything that was special about the US approach to governance.
posted by willnot at 5:19 PM on August 19, 2003

Let's ask Ted Kennedy what he thinks.
posted by reidfleming at 5:21 PM on August 19, 2003

what willnot said. now if only our politicos could figure this out.
posted by filchyboy at 5:55 PM on August 19, 2003

By right vs. privilege, what I am referring to is the thought that it is unthinkable that the government would even consider restriction driving of someone, even if they killed someone. That they have unlimited powers when they are driving, and that no one, person or government, should be able to take it away.

In the same sense we don't let everyone perform open heart surgery, I don't think everyone should be allowed to drive. Now, you have to go with skill levels. Obviously, the open-heart surgery group will be a lot smaller than the driving portion. But if you run someone down with negligence, or even worse, with intent, then the government should be able to say, 'um, ok, you're done driving.'

Of course I am also in the camp that car classes should be expanded. For example, Vans and SUVs should have a different classification than 4 door sedan-style vehicles. They have different turning radius, different controls, and in most cases are harder to steer than standard sized cars. So you should have to take a special test for that vehicle in that vehicle. You want to drive a Ford Expedition? Then you should have to get through the cone test before you are allowed on the road with it.
posted by benjh at 6:27 PM on August 19, 2003

Well this is a perfect time for me to say something that has been otherwise inappropriate for MetaFilter.

My wife was run over by a truck last Wednesday, riding home from a quick jaunt into the country. The driver blew a stop sign at a T intersection. He was too busy looking at me go by to bother checking whether there was anyone else on the road.

She was already on alert because his head was turned, and braked immediately when his wheels moved. Alas, the laws of physics wouldn't allow themselves to be broken, and his truck struck her motorcycle.

Both his driver-side tires drove over her bike and her left arm. It was a matter of inches between the injuries she sustained, and death. Her left elbow was turned to pulp, her right shoulder ball was sheared in half, and for a while we thought she had a cracked pelvis and possible internal injuries.

It has, needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), been a very stressful week. With some miraculous bits of surgery it looks like she might actually regain nearly full range of
motion in both arms.

[And despite the bad media, our health care system generally kicks ass. Anyone curious about it can start a thread re: healthcare and I'll share our experience of emergencies, hospitals, nursing, and insurance.]

The young driver is 100% at-fault. We're on a graduated licensing system in this province, so he's probably up shit creek for a while. I can't say as I feel sorry for him: he's inconvenienced for a year and pays a bunch for future insurance, while my wife gets to live with restricted movement, pain, and arthritis for the rest of her life.

Angry? Not so much. Disappointed that someone could be so absolutely careless. Frustrated that my wife gets the short end of the stick no matter how this turns out: both the physical cost and the financial cost. Wishing that the laws insisted that the driver be thrown into remedial driving school. It's a shame my wife served as his object lesson in responsibility.

Were he an asshole who's been ticketed time and again, or who'd been in an crash before, I'd probably be far angrier with both him and the system that would allow him to remain a driver.

We, as a society, take driving far too casually. Our crash statistics are horrific. The streets are carnage: there is death and destruction on a daily basis. There aren't many people who seem truly clued-in about the risks and responsibilities.

I firmly believe there are virtually NO traffic accidents. They are almost always due to undue attention or carelessness. People who blow traffic lights, drive too fast for conditions, fail to yield, change langes without signalling or shoulder-checking: they're all CHOOSING to create situations that are extremely dangerous for others.

I think our laws ought to reflect the results of the choices drivers make. I don't see a difference between the person who chooses to blow a stop sign and kill a motorcyclist, and a person who handles a gun carelessly and ends up shooting a bystander.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:03 PM on August 19, 2003

Or six.

fish, I'm awfully sorry to hear about your wife and hope she heals well. I had dinner tonight with a friend who was in a motorcycle accident last winter — an oncoming driver turning left across an undivided highway cut him off — and has lost the use of his left arm except for the hand itself, which he now refers to as Norman as it finger-crawls about the table towing his arm behind. He's a tough MF and I'm sure she too will amaze you with her fortitude.
posted by nicwolff at 8:00 PM on August 19, 2003

amen, five fresh fish. and my thoughts are very much with you and your wife.
posted by stonerose at 9:35 PM on August 19, 2003

If there's a correct way of getting run over by a truck, my wife seems to have pulled it off. At 5'2" and 110lbs soaking wet, she's a wee thing that just doesn't look like the sort to bounce back from being crushed. Nonetheless, she has. She's home, six days after the collision (I refuse to call it an accident).

The motorcycle protective gear made an incredible difference. There's damage that indicates she'd have at the very least a broken jaw, and probably a concussion or coma, had she not been wearing a full-face helmet. The foam in the jacket's elbow didn't keep her elbow from being crushed into many, many little bits, but it did keep it from becoming completely pulped. There are marks on the pants and a torn toe on the boot that indicate she'd have lost toes and shin-flesh had she not had them. I think the hip padding kept her from a fractured pelvis (the bruise is huge, but the xrays are clean). The left glove shows extreme palm-damage, too.

All that at a collision speed of probably less than 30kmh (certainly well under the speed limit of 50kmh).

In short, those people who don't wear full protective gear are among the dumbest fucks you'll ever see. The surgeries would have been an order of magnitude more difficult when dealing with deep abrasions, blood loss, brain injury, and so on.

Dress for the crash, not the ride.

And be kind to motorcyclists.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 PM on August 19, 2003

five fresh fish:

Unfortunately, this virtual-community-thingy doesn't work well when it's time to show up at a neighbor's door with a casserole. Visualize a dish full of good eating and a smiling skyscraper (a scary thought).
posted by skyscraper at 11:10 PM on August 19, 2003

Anybody read the article Maurice posted? Besides "hit and run" accidents, and having a personal vendetta against the American Indian Movement (which is another story), he's a rapist.

"William "Wild Bill" Janklow is the current governor of South Dakot a. In 1955, at the age of 16, he was convicted of the sexual assault of a 17-year old woman. As a juvenile offense, this conviction carried little weight under U.S. law.

However, in 1966, while working as the tribal attorney for the Rosebud Sioux, Janklo w--aged 27--was accused of raping his children's 15-year-old babysitter, Jancita Eagle Deer. Adult sexual offenses being more grave than this earlier recorded exploit, Janklow used his capacity as head of reservation legal services to stave off the (illeg ible) of formal, federal charges. He then resigned his position and left tribal jurisdiction.


Meanwhile, Durham dropped out of sight, with Eagle Deer in tow. Her body turned up in a roadside ditch in Nebraska in March 1975. While the official Nebraska State Police account lists cause of death merely as "hit-and-run," even their autopsy report indicates she had been beaten sometime shortly before being run over. Douglass Durham was never questioned in the matter of his companion's death. Rather, he was called as the sole witness before the House of Representatives' Internal Security Committee' "investigation" of AIM during the summer of 1975 to provide evidence that "the American Indian Movement is a terrorist organization." From there, he went on a national speaking tour arranged by the John Birch Society and endorsed by William Janklow, who had decided to run for governor.
posted by Slimemonster at 12:03 AM on August 20, 2003

what's really amazing is the wording of his press release -- "I was involved in a car accident" is a fucking masterpiece
posted by matteo at 12:47 AM on August 20, 2003

If you haven't yet read the link provided above by maurice then please go do so now.

This guy is scum. Racist, perverted child molesting scum who will do anything for power. Do I even need mention which political party he ascribes to?
posted by nofundy at 5:17 AM on August 20, 2003

I used to do a lot of driving from Nebraska to Minnesota, which of course involved a whole lotta South Dakota. And when Janklow was Governor, I was always really freaked out that there would be signs at every point of entry into the state reading something like

"South Dakota- B I L L J A N K L O W , G O V E R N O R . "

So, I can't claim to really know anything about the man, but I'd be willing to put some money down on megalomaniac at the very least.
posted by COBRA! at 7:03 AM on August 20, 2003

Wow, five...I'm so sorry to hear that! I wish I lived closer so I could do something to help! hugs to both of you...but make hers a gentle one. :)
posted by dejah420 at 8:09 AM on August 20, 2003

Thanks, all. We're getting excellent support and care from the insurance companies and face-to-face friends. Everything is cool, and we're happy.

It sounds like Bill needs to be terminated. How the hell does someone like that get into power?!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:17 AM on August 20, 2003

Dress for the crash, not the ride. Thank you for the reminder. In the UK's heatwave I'd taken to riding in jeans and a t-shirt, but you have brought me back to earth with a bump. Not the bump your poor wife endured, thank goodness. Speedy, (and full), recovery wishes.
posted by punilux at 12:06 PM on August 20, 2003

Punilux, I live in the Okanagan where daytime summer temperatures average about 30C and sometimes strike 40C. We always wear full gear, even in that godawful heat. Not only is the asphalt "grabbier" when hot, it could easily give third-degree burns while lying in wait for the ambulance.

Several companies now sell a mesh jacket that is, by the reports I've read, adequate for a single crash. I own one, and wear it (most everything about motorcycling is a matter of calculated risks) but I don't have a lot of faith in it. It also causes me to dehydrate one helluva lot worse than with a proper jacket. I've seen mesh pants, too, but I would not wear them. Stats indicate injuries are worse to the lower body than upper body, and limbs more than torso.

My newest bit of gear (purchased a week before my wife got smacked) includes a Joe Rocket Ballistic 3.0 jacket. It's a damn fine bit of work, with excellent fit adjustment and a vent system that just kicks complete ass. I highly recommend it! It's excellent in both heat and rain. Superb design: Joe's been listening to his users.

If you're a boy-racer, there are plenty of perforated leather designs. As long as they have good armour, they're great.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:45 PM on August 20, 2003

janklow charged
posted by dolface at 10:05 AM on August 29, 2003

Charged... but that's a far cry from convicted. I'm betting he gets off.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:04 PM on August 29, 2003

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