Janklow Pleads Innocent; Taxpayers May Pay Civil-Case Penalties

Congressman Janklow enters plea in case arising from

South Dakota Congressman William Janklow has pleaded innocent to all charges brought against him involving the accident where motorcyclist Randy Scott was killed on August 16. The most serious of those charges, second-degree manslaughter, is a felony. The rest -- failure to stop (the apparent cause of the crash), speeding, and reckless driving -- are misdemeanors.

Attorneys say that the plea is not unusualy and does not mean that he denies doing it. If the charges had been brought individually, it is more likely that he would have pled guilty to some of them. It does leave Janklow room to negotiate and could still lead to a plea bargain.

His trial is scheduled for December 1.

Investigators have said that former South Dakota Governor Janklow's Cadillac was traveling at approximately 71 mph in a 55-mph zone when it ran a stop sign where Scott had right-of-way. Scott died at the scene. Janklow had a string of speeding tickets before he was re-elected governor in 1994, and publicly mentioned his propensity for speed. Investigators are checking to see if he was let off after other stops while he was governor.

Another driver has also stated that she had a near-collision with Janklow when he did the same thing at the same intersection in December.

In a further development raising the ire of some, in the inevitable civil case brought by Scott's survivors, Janklow may not have to pay for whatever damages are levied against him. That's because the federal goverment -- or more precisely, the taxpaying public -- foots the damages when its employees are sued while working, and Janklow was returning from a veterans function.

The-governor Janklow in 2002