I collected comments/conversations between 3J Towing and a couple of different people asking questions under the posts shared on social media and wanted to put them into an article to help shed a bit more light on this issue.

My questions I’d like to ask our sheriff and State’s Attorney after the information given to us by 3J Towing:
– Why did 3J Towing not receive due process before termination?
– Why were the numerous death threats not deemed credible enough to pursue by our state’s attorney, while the “threat” by Dale Simanton towards former commissioner Kim Richards was deemed a threat enough to pursue (yet the requested restraining order was thrown out by the judge)?
– From what we’re seeing presented here, it looks like a willing violation of state laws and constitutional rights.  If so, why? Is the claim that Sheriff Lamphere is working to create a monopoly for the other towing company true? If so, why? Especially when state law seems pretty clear about it being unlawful, and anyone found guilty of it could be charged with a class 6 felony? 
– What about the state laws 3J Towing is bound to uphold, especially SDCL 32-30-1832-30-12, 32-30-13, 32-30-1432-30-15, as well as 32-30-19 and 32-36-4? Why does it seem like our Sheriff, State’s Attorney, Judge, and Chief Deputy are all trying to push a local towing company owner into breaking state laws and punishing him when he doesn’t?

I’ve had some people tell me how much they trust and respect Deputy March, so I’m confused as to why it seems like he’s going along with this whole thing.  Am I missing something here?

According to what I’ve learned:  BEFORE we are stripped of anything pertaining to our life, liberty, or property by the government, we receive due process “which requires, at a minimum: (1) notice; (2) an opportunity to be heard; and (3) an impartial tribunal. Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank (1950).”
—Instead, what have we witnessed by our county government?
1. the civil suit and termination happened on the same day
2. Termination happened before 3J was given a chance to be heard in court and make their case
3. They weren’t allowed to be put on the county commission agenda (they were told it was too late) HOWEVER…
4. They WERE on the agenda under the Sheriff’s report, yet 3J Towing was NOT notified
5. 3J Towing made a public comment instead, yet were still unable to make a statement during the Sheriff’s report about them
6. Right after their public comment, we were told by 3J Towing that they witnessed Deputy March and our State’s Attorney make numerous trips to the Clerk of Courts, after which they found out that their civil suit was changed to a criminal suit.
7. Even with it now magically changing to a criminal suit, no charges had been filed, no court date was set, and they were still terminated from rotation before being allowed due process.
8. A week later, 3J Towing was served papers with a court date set.
Isn’t this all a little backwards?  Why are they not allowed on the county commission agenda to speak and be heard beyond a public comment? Why did the Deputy and SA change it from civil to criminal right after they made a public comment? And…one last time….. what about all the state laws 3J Towing gave us that they are bound to uphold and (it seems) like our county government is trying to force them to break these laws?


Read Parts 1, 2 and 3

First conversation (Courtesy of We, The People, of Lawrence County Facebook Page):

3J Towing:  “Our rights have been stripped from us. No due process whatsoever, the Sheriff has found us guilty until proven innocent and we haven’t even been to court yet. Again in the last commissioners meeting, our right to due process was violated again. They wouldn’t allow us to speak even though we were on the agenda. How can one defend themselves if no one is willing to let you? We asked to be on the agenda and was denied and never told that we were already on it. The court order violates several codified laws yet we are being accused of contempt because we pointed these violations out. We could name probably ten other towing companies in SD that run their businesses just as we do. These codified laws are there to protect the consumer and our businesses. I for one would not be happy in the least if someone besides me was able to claim my vehicle or the contents of said vehicle. The DMV in Pierre has always told us to never release anything to anyone but the registered owner. Now, if they can get the registered owner to send us a notarized affidavit saying that a specific person has their permission we will abide by it. Even a notarized document from a seller with said persons name and information that purchased the vehicle would work. This person has none of this and has flatly refused to even try to get these documents. The registered owners live in Missouri and neither one is her. We have to use the information given to us by the DMV and work within the laws given. We have not violated any laws. Her attorney, the SA, the Sheriff and his Chief Deputy have. And why? It’s in our care and custody, so we have to live within the laws of our industry and we’re being persecuted for doing what we have to do to protect our company from litigation from actual registered owners and work within the laws. Why do they all of a sudden take interest in something like this? Why is our company the only one being unconstitutionally persecuted and prosecuted? It must be monetarily motivated! Why else would they single us out? What about all the calls the PD responds to the other for not allowing the actual registered owners an opportunity to collect their belongings or vehicles? It will all come out in the wash and it won’t be pretty but we will prevail and be proven innocent.”

Citizen comment: yep that’s right in the words of the DPPA ..privacy act. If the woman wanted a title to her car, she could have requested it herself thru the act. It’d not hard. Just requires her to present to DMV a legal claim to property. A Bill Of Sale fits that claim. Now, however, you as a Tow Company could act in her defense to help do that request for a small nominal fee of course

3J Towing: A day or two after we were served and terminated the car was legally ours. We do not want anyone’s vehicles, we have plenty of our own. We want to do our job, get paid and move on. Anytime we end up with a vehicle it just costs us more money and time and takes up space in our impound that we could be using to store something else

Citizen: …I agree with you DO NOT let get things out of the car unless you for sure the property in the car is hers. I do understand where you are coming from.  Why is it such a huge issue with titles in this state…I have many people driving cars titles to someone else. So it makes it super easy to claim titles on abandoned cars.

3J Towing:

we send in for a DPPA to get the registered owner info. Within 10 days of the tow and impound we send out an abandoned vehicle notice to the registered owner. Thirty days later if the owner hasn’t claimed it and paid the tow and storage, we go to the Treasurer’s Office and apply for an abandoned title and pay a $10 title fee. It then is legally ours.
We end up with an average of about 200 vehicles per year this way that the bills are not paid. When we receive title we kick the bill and all paperwork to a collection agency. Even then there is not a guaranteed payment and what we do collect the agency takes 35-40% depending upon what was involved in collecting the bill.
There are SDCLs in place that hold the registered owner liable for all fees involved with the towing and storage. However, no one seems to care about enforcing it. Personally, I wish SD would do what several other states do. If the tow bill and storage are not paid in these other states, they cannot get new tags nor renew their drivers licenses until the towing companies are paid in full. This would help immensely I believe.
Conversation under Part 2 article:
KatCJ: I need to reread this when I have more time but at first glance it doesn’t look right on the sheriff’s dept part.
What is in that car that is so important? Where all has that car been?
Those are questions that automatically pop up.
Katie Hoffmann: I’m thinking of why it seems the sheriff hasn’t allowed 3j towing their due process rights?
Katie Hoffmann i reread it. Yes due process is being skipped. Why? My 2 automatic popup questions remain with another added of what is the urgency to skip due process?!!!!
3J Towing:
Kat CJ yes, my point exactly. Her and her boyfriend have both made death threats against myself and my wife and kids and they do nothing. The SA didn’t find it credible. She tried to climb over a PD officer in my office screaming “I will kill you!” He and another officer had to physically remove her from our property. But yes, there has to be something in there that is worth all this effort against me and our business.