Guilty of Manslaughter, Janklow Faces Up to 11 Years in Jail in Death of Motorcycle Rider Randy Scott. But Will He Do Time?

The jury didn't buy the diabetes defense. Now the convicted congressman and former South Dakota Governor faces penalties of up to 11 years in jail. The question is whether he will suffer any punishment. **By _

Congressman and now convicted felon William Janklow will be sentenced January 20 for his reckless conduct leading up to the traffic accident that killed motorcyclist Randy Scott. Janklow was found guilty on Monday, December 8.

After testifying that he routinely exceeded speed limits and sometimes ran stop signs, South Dakota's U.S. Representative was found guilty of second-degree manslaugher in the August 16 traffic death of Scott, a Minnesota farmer. According to testimony at his trial, Janklow ran a rural stop sign at a high rate of speed, causing the accident.

Janklow, twice Governor of South Dakota, where the accident occurred, claimed that he was impaired by a diabetic reaction, though other testimony seemed to counter that claim, and the jury either felt it was untrue or did not excuse Janklow's actions. Janklow's claim that there was another car that he was trying to avoid also seemed to be discredited. The jury took just five hours to return guilty verdicts on all four counts, even though jury members said they didn't want "that to happen."

Janklow has announced that he will resign from his U.S. House of Representatives seat on January 20, the same day he will be sentenced. House rules prevent him from voting in the interim. His political career appears to be over.

The motorcycle community continues to watch the case closely to see whether the once-popular politician is sentenced to significant jail time or if he will get let off with a hand-slap. It appears that Janklow may be immune from civil litigation on the matter because U.S. government representatives may not be sued for events that occur while they are participating in government business, and Janklow was returning from an event that falls in that category when the crash happened. In that case, he only penalty to politco faces will be criminal. The U.S. government would be the defendant in that event. Scott survivors also say that they have not yet decided whether to file a lawsuit.

South Dakota law provides combined penalties of up to 11 years in jail for the four crimes he was convicted of, with the manslaughter charge carrying the heaviest potential punishment -- up to 10 years in jail. The judge needs the time before the sentencing date to research on the defendent's background. The judge may also seek out the views of the victim's family.

The following links offer additional coverage and commentary on the case.

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His reckless, arrogant attitude on the highway caught up with former South Dakota Governor when he was found guilty of running a stop sign at high speed and killing motorcyclist Randy Scott.