Bill Janklow is 2002. The...
Bill Janklow is 2002. The crash has ended his political career.
Five months after running a South Dakota stop sign at high speed and colliding with motorcyclist Randy Scott and killing him, former South Dakota Governor and U.S. Congressman, now convicted felon, William Janklow was sentenced to just 100 days in jail, followed by three years of probation, during which he will not be allowed to drive.
The statute under which 64-year-old Janklow was convicted for second-degree manslaughter sets no mimimum sentence. The range of possible sentences that Judge Rodney Steele could have imposed on Janklow ranged from nothing to 11 years behind bars and/or a an $11,400 fine. Options included probation, loss of drioving priviledges, restitution and community service. The average sentence is around seven years. The judge had a detailed presentencing report to help determine the sentence. He also heard from Scott's family and Janklow supporters.
Scott's family has also filed suit for unspecified damages.
Janklow resigned from his congressional seat two days before his sentencing.
Motorcyclists who feel that the sentence was excessively lenient may attempt to boycott South Dakota's largest tourist event, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
The American Motorcyclist Association expressed disappointment with the verdict in the following release:
AMA REACTS TO JANKLOW SENTENCE
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports that former U.S. Rep. Bill Janklow (R-SD), who was convicted December 8, 2003, of second-degree manslaughter and three other counts related to a traffic crash that claimed the life of a Minnesota motorcyclist, was sentenced today to 100 days in the Minnehaha County Jail. Janklow will not have to spend time in the South Dakota State Penitentiary, and he could be eligible for a work-release program after 30 days in jail.
On Saturday, August 16, motorcyclist Randolph Scott of Hardwick, Minnesota, was killed in a collision with a car driven by Janklow. The fatal crash took place at the intersection of two county roads in eastern South Dakota. Reports released by investigators indicated that Janklow's car, traveling at speeds estimated at more that 70 mph, did not stop at the stop sign and continued into the path of the motorcycle, giving the rider no chance to avoid the fatal collision.
Janklow's resignation from the U.S. House of Representatives took effect on January 20, 2004.
"The AMA is extremely disappointed with this sentence," said Edward Moreland, AMA Vice President for Government Relations. "This South Dakota court has handed down a judicial insult to motorcyclists nationwide, and to the memory of Randolph Scott, the motorcyclist who paid the price for Mr. Janklow's criminal conduct."
According to a recent Associated Press review of South Dakota court records dating back to 1989, 80 percent of those convicted of second-degree manslaughter have been sent to jail or prison. Average jail time was six months, and the average prison term was almost seven years.
In the days following the accident, the AMA called on motorcyclists nationwide to contact South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds and Attorney General Larry Long, urging them to seek justice in the case. Using AMA Rapid Response, motorcyclists and other concerned citizens can send e-mail messages directly to South Dakota officials. AMA Rapid Response, which allows users to contact lawmakers, government officials and the media with the click of a button, is available on the Association's website, AMADirectlink.com.
The AMA notes that tragic crashes like the one involving Janklow, in which a car or other vehicle violates the right of way of a motorcycle, are all too common on the nation's highways. The most comprehensive study ever conducted into motorcycle accidents found that nearly 75 percent of motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle, and that in almost two-thirds of those crashes, the cause could be traced to the other vehicle violating the motorcyclist's right-of-way.
For more than a year, the AMA has been involved in a campaign called Motorcyclists Matter that focuses attention on the dangers faced by motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users, including bicyclists and pedestrians, as a result of drivers who violate their right-of-way. The Association is also campaigning in Washington, D.C., for funding for a new study into the causes of motorcycle accidents -- the first in more than two decades.