Strong faces fee request, doubles down on recording

By representing herself in her lawsuit trying to kick Rep. Brian Gosch off the ballot, Rapid City activist Stephanie Strong avoided having to pay the expensive cost of an lawyer.

Unless Judge Kathleen Trandahl says otherwise.

That’s because Gosch and the Pennington County Republican Party have filed a motion asking Trandahl to force Strong to pay their attorney fees.

SDCL 15-17-51 provides for just that in cases that are “frivolous or malicious”; Gosch and the Pennington County Republican Party argue Strong’s lawsuit was just that.

You can read their arguments why in the court documents embedded below.

Their attorney, Sara Frankenstein, also brings up the fact that Strong recorded the hearing and emailed it to the Argus Leader (as well as, apparently, blogger Cory Heidelberger), casually mentioning that “the Court may sanction Strong under this authority as well.”

Strong, for her part, doesn’t like the standing order forbidding people from recording court hearings. She’s contacted an advocacy group called “Lawless America,” which supports changes including public recordings of all court hearings (as well as ending requirements of legal degrees and legal experience for judges; the group says “lawyers are a big part of the problem with the legal system” and that “if the participants in a case go by the rules and the law, any intelligent person can serve as a judge”). Read their manifesto here.

Lawless America is focused on changing state laws, but Strong said in an email that she is working with the group to present their report at her next hearing.

That hearing will be on Jan. 25 at 9 a.m. in the Hughes County Courthouse.

"The judge has indicated that the parties will not be allowed to participate telephonically," Frankenstein writes.

Here’s Frankenstein’s filing:

Strong v. Gant motion for attorney fees