South Dakota Judge Attempts to Ban Personal Carry of Firearms in Court

Why I Am Suing The Governor of Virginia, iStock-1055138108
A South Dakota 7th Circuit judge, Judge Pfeifle, demands guns be banned from the Courthouse even when he is not there and the court is not in session. iStock-1055138108

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- A South Dakota 7th Circuit judge, Craig Pfeifle, has initiated a conflict with the Custer County Board. The Board created an ordinance to allow people to legally carry personal firearms in the County Courthouse, as allowed by law.  In effect, the ordinance removes the legal prohibition on people carrying firearms in the courthouse. There have not been any problems.

The ordinance covers the courthouse, not the courtroom. Hearings in the courtroom only occur once a week. When they do, a deputy and metal detector are used to secure the courtroom. The Custer County Courthouse includes a museum type art display open to the public.

The Judge did not like the idea, so he proposes to refuse to serve at the Custer County Courthouse as long as the County Board allows people to carry in the Courthouse.  Judge Pfeifle has submitted his order to be reviewed by the Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court in January of 2021.

The trials across the 7th District are already on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions. From rapidcityjournal.com:

The presiding judge of the 7th Judicial Circuit has written a proposed order saying judges won’t appear in Custer County court and trials will take place in Rapid City after the Custer County Commission passed an ordinance allowing guns inside the courthouse. 

“Due to the action by the Custer County Commission in adopting ordinance 2020-18, which allows for firearms to be carried in the courthouse, the Custer County Courthouse is currently unsuitable and insufficient due to safety concerns,” Judge Craig Pfeifle wrote in his proposed order.

The commission adopted the ordinance after meeting with Pfeifle and Judge Matt Brown who expressed their opposition and warnings from the Custer County state’s attorney that allowing guns in the courthouse is a safety risk, legal liability and financial burden.

When I arrived in Yuma, Arizona, 30 years ago, there were no restrictions on carrying in the Yuma County Courthouse.  There may have been restrictions on carrying in courtrooms at times, but I did not see them.

I often legally carried in the courthouse as I had business to conduct there. The courthouse contained the clerk of courts, the tax assessor, and the county recorder. As with many courthouses, actual trials and hearings in courtrooms are a small amount of the business done inside.

After the double murder of law officers by rogue Yuma County Deputy Jack Hudson in 1995, a local Yuma judge used the trial to change all of that. He ordered that no one would be allowed in the Courthouse without being disarmed for the Hudson trial. The gun ban was never removed. When the new courthouse was built, it was designed to have electronic screening to ensure only those favored by the Judge would be allowed to be armed.  The prohibition for an entire courthouse is stretching Arizona law.

Several states do not have restrictions or have passed reform legislation to remove restrictions on the carry of guns in courthouses (as opposed to courtrooms), most of which were imposed during the Progressive era. The states include Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

The conflict over allowing guns in courthouses (not courtrooms) is both a philosophical and a political conflict based on the separation of powers built into the structure of the United States.

Judge Pfeifle’s argument is the same as those who want a disarmed population: Guns are bad in the hands of ordinary people. It is summed up in Judge Pfeifle’s statement from a previous article:

“I don’t think you should expand any access to weapons in the courthouse,” Judge Pfeifle said. “I think when you bring them in with employees and others you will create bigger risks than it will solve.”

Second Amendment supporters argue the opposite: Guns are good in the hands of ordinary people. The argument is strictly about ordinary people, because police officers and judges are already able to carry guns in courthouses. People who have been shown to be dangerous to the public (violent felons) will continue to be banned.

Long experience shows the judge is wrong. The courthouse in Custer county has only had a sign or an ordinance preventing people from carrying there for the last several decades, and they have not had any significant problems. That is the case for the vast majority of courthouses in the United States.

The separation of powers conflict occurs because the judge is trying to social engineer outside his jurisdiction.

He is threatening to go on strike. He will not do his job until the management conforms to his demands.

There are two proper responses to this extortion.

  1. Fire the judge through the next election process, for not doing his job.
  2. Impeach the judge in the legislature for not doing his job.

Both of those responses assume the judge actually follows through on his threat. It may not happen.

Judges that demand dictatorial control over entire courthouses instead of in the courtroom, even when the court is not in session, and they are not present, have overstepped their authority.  They have shown a personal predilection against the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It would be wise to remove them from their position of authority.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

Subscribe
Notify of
23 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
HLB
HLB
2 months ago

Don’t forget Mississippi. The case was RICKY W. WARD v. DOROTHY WINSTON COLOM. An un-Lawful and un-Constitutional sua-sponte ruling issued on 11/18/2011 by TRIAL JUDGES: HON. DOROTHY WINSTON COLOM, HON. KENNETH M. BURNS, HON. H. J. DAVIDSON, JR. in LOWNDES COUNTY was VACATED – 06/07/2018 by EN BANC. RANDOLPH, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE Supreme Court of the State of Mississippi. I know, because prior to that ruling I carried in my Warren County court house, and then for those many years I was denied access to the court house by our un-Lawful and un-Constitutional sheriff and three likewise local judges who… Read more »

JSNMGC
JSNMGC
2 months ago
Reply to  HLB

“But Sheriffs are different.”

RayJN
RayJN
2 months ago

If he won’t do his job, don’t pay him. Then how long will he refuse?

PMinFl
PMinFl
2 months ago

If they refuse to appear in their court then they have resigned.

John Dow
John Dow
2 months ago

Someday, I hope, those who serve the people will begin to understand that fact.

I’m not holding my breath.

linkman
linkman
2 months ago

There are a lot of things I dislike where I am employed. But I continue to do my work. This judge needs to be fired, plain and simple.

nobodyuknow
nobodyuknow
2 months ago

Impeach this B*****D and jerk him off the bench!!! it is obvious that he is afflicted with a SEVERE case of Black Robe Fever!!!

MICHAEL J
MICHAEL J
2 months ago

Only crooked judges would fear for their life’s if they didn’t rule fairly.
In California they’re all fearful.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
2 months ago
Reply to  MICHAEL J

That’s one of the reasons it is a may issue state. I escaped that dump.
I carry for a safer America.

pureamericana
pureamericana
2 months ago

American citizens must always remember most, not all judges were once practicing attorneys or had a law degree, They are not Gods or Saints and they too violated laws or were corrupt in their practice. Call them out !

Vanns40
Vanns40
2 months ago

The solution to this is simple: File a Writ Of Mandamus to force him to do his duties under the law or be removed.

Camotim
Camotim
2 months ago

Unconstitutional when it comes to criminal trials per the 6th and 14th Amendments.

gregs
gregs
2 months ago

there is much research that shows where the more firearms are allowed, the lower the crime rate is, and vice versa. leftists do not care about data, research or statistics, only feelings. law-abiding citizens are just that and we rely on the rule of law and not feelings

JSNMGC
JSNMGC
2 months ago
Reply to  gregs

I did a lot of research on two violent neighborhoods in Chicago and compared the data to the county I live in. The murder/non-negligent homicide rate in those two neighborhoods was 150 times that of my county.

There is no doubt in my mind that the firearm ownership rate in my county is at least 10 times that of those Chicago neighborhoods.

We don’t shoot people over disrespecting each other’s footwear.

It’s a cultural issue.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
2 months ago
Reply to  JSNMGC

It’s also a mentality. It’s the typical hood rat jungle of thugs that make it that way.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
2 months ago
Reply to  gregs

You almost got it. Don’t forget they don’t care about the facts, they only care about the truth per lying joe liden.

Last edited 2 months ago by musicman44mag
gregs
gregs
2 months ago

maybe for the people of south dakota it is better that he refuses to preside as a judge because of his callous attitude towards the Constitituion. leftists seek total control over everything regardless of the legality of it, we see it everyday on many issues. here in south fla (miami) we are not allowed to carry any weapons into a courthouse and therefore are unable to protect ourselves to and from the courthouse. that being said, there should be lockers to store weapons and accessories at the courthouse to secure our items until we leave. it is worse if you… Read more »

Cruiser
Cruiser
2 months ago

Bye Bye Felicia.

“The Judge did not like the idea, so he proposes to refuse to serve at the Custer County Courthouse as long as the County Board allows people to carry in the Courthouse.” 

Last edited 2 months ago by Cruiser
nrringlee
nrringlee
2 months ago

Who is sovereign? That is the real question. “We the People” is the correct answer. Anyone who disagrees is free to do so but cannot be granted the special trust and confidence to serve in any government in any capacity. Simple answer. Live your oath. Semper Fidelis.

nobodyuknow
nobodyuknow
2 months ago
Reply to  nrringlee

nrringlee . . . YUP!!!

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
2 months ago
Reply to  nrringlee

Amen

Ansel Hazen
Ansel Hazen
2 months ago

I have long held the belief that a lot more actual justice might occur if guns were present in the courtroom.

musicman44mag
musicman44mag
2 months ago
Reply to  Ansel Hazen

That’s funny.