In the News

It’s not every day that Murdo, SD ends up in the national news, but perhaps that will be changing.  Fox News is running a series on up-and-coming politicians, and featured John Thune, Murdo’s best known home-town boy, on November 11.  They made sure to show Murdo’s one street light in their footage, with the implication that we are considered somewhat  .  .  .  quaint.

It was a fine segment on John, but people who see only that might miss some of the other things that make this area special. The Great Plains region has a rich and varied tradition of community. Several stories on the front page of this week’s Murdo Coyote, the local newspaper, illustrate that.

On October 30, 2010, the Jones County Ambulance and EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technicians) were honored as the 2010 Emergency Medical Service of the Year by the South Dakota EMT Association Banquet. Murdo has an official population of 679, and the county’s population was 1,193 in the 2000 census. The Jones County Ambulance service covers 971 square miles and a segment of I-90, which runs across the length of the county. The nearest hospital is 60 miles away. After a 2009 call for additional volunteers, the service added several ambulance drivers and 5 new EMT’s, doubling the total number of EMT’s in Jones County. And yes, those are all volunteers, out of a population of about 1,200 people.

In other news, local boy Zack Boyle finished in third place in the youth ages 10 through 11 division at the International Shotokan Karate Federation National and Collegiate Tournament, held last weekend in Sioux Falls, SD. Murdo may not be what people picture as a hotbed of karate activity, but it is home to a very active club.

And finally, plans are being made for the Murdo community Thanksgiving potluck. For years now, a few men cook turkeys and host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on the holiday, while  other people bring salads and deserts as the spirit moves them.

Those are the kinds of things that make this area special and such a great place to live. As one elderly gentlemen asked with genuine puzzlement the other day, “Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?”

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South Dakota’s Smoking Ban

The expansion of South Dakota’s smoking ban is now in effect, after voters voted to keep it in this month’s referendum. The new law is really quite straightforward, despite the amazingly wild stories circulating.

The new law can be boiled down to four parts:

  1. No smoking or carrying lit tobacco products in a place of work or public place — including bars, which is the change to the old law;
  2. Anyone who is in charge (or owns) a bar or place of work must tell people about the law when they see someone violating it;
  3. Anyone who breaks rule 1 or 2 has committed a Petty Offense, the fine for which is $25.
  4. None of this applies to cigar clubs or tobacco shops where people do not drink, which have to file an annual report proving they qualify for the exemption.

That’s it. Really pretty straightforward, as far as laws go. There is no requirement that cops patrol the bars; there is no provision for shutting a bar down completely if one person is caught smoking. The legislature is relying on the belief that people in South Dakota are generally law-abiding and prefer not to get into trouble. Of course, bar-owners and other people in their position need to understand that repeated problems or complaints may impact their liquor license and business, just like any other repeated legal infractions.

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Having used Note Taker HD for Regular Court Days

Now that you have set up Note Taker HD for court days, used Note Taker during the court hearings, at the end of a court hearing (or the end of the day, if it’s been really busy), you can email your court sheets to you and/or your secretary.  Here is  an example of the end result.

Of course, these are all fictitious defendants.  Nor should anyone assume these are the types of sentences necessarily given.

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Using NoteTaker HD for Regular Court Days

My last post talked about setting up Note Taker HD for regular court days. It reviewed the bare bones setup you need to do to use the app for regular docket calls.

With just a little more setup, though, Note Taker HD really shines. Let’s start with what you want as the “finished product”, so to speak. When it’s all set up, you have a list of note pages along the left hand column, sorted by client/defendant name, that you can switch between with a tap on the one you want.


Because I use this app mostly for court, I set up my default Background as my court summary sheet. To do that, tap on “Tools menu” in the lower left hand corner of the main screen, select “App Settings”, and then under “New Ink Page Initial Settings”, go to “Background”, and tape on the right carrot to set the default Background for new pages. Pick the one you want:

New sheet select bg

Select Done.

Then, back at the main screen, you can start a new page by tapping on the + sign in the upper right-hand corner.

New sheet

If you have set up your form Background as the default, select Default Blank Page” My preference is then to select “Edit 2” in the upper left-hand corner and mark up your page as appropriate:

Editing a New Sheet

You can change the thickness of your “pen” by tapping on the square next to “Erase” in the upper left:

Changing your Pen Thickness

When you’ve finished marking it up, tap “Done” in the upper left

Switch to any other page by tapping on it in the left column. Tap Edit to mark it up.

Now, if your court days are like mine, you want that left column list limited to the sheets for that court day. You do that by tagging your sheets with the court day. To create tags, tap on “Tools” and then “Edit Tags”. You’ll get a window that lets you add and delete your tags.

Creating Tags

To apply tags, tap on “Tools” and then “Set Tag for Pages”

Setting Tags, View 1

Tap on the tag you want to apply. Then tap on the boxes to the right of those pages you want to tag with the date:

Setting Tags, View 2

Tap outside the Tagging window to return to the main screen.

To get your court day list, tap on “Tags” in the lower left-hand corner of the main screen

Finding sheets by tags

Tap on the “Tap Here to Show List of Tags” at the top of the page. To sort by name, tap on “Title” at the top of the column.

There! It’s done and you are ready for court.

After court, Select “Tools” and then “Email Selected” and select those pages you want to email, either individually or in one batch.

When opening the pdf files on your computers, please note that opening in Adobe Acrobat may not give the best results if you do not have all fonts installed. I have had better success using PDFpen.

Hope that helps!

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Setting up NoteTaker HD for Regular Court Days

Keeping up with “cattle call” court days and all the cases we get through is a challenge. A challenge made easier with my iPad, using Note Taker HD. That app allows me to keep notes on all the cases and switch back and forth quickly and easily between cases. I can keep quick notes on our court summary form for each case and then email them as PDF’s directly to me (and my secretary for filing).

It did require some setup beforehand, and I thought it might be helpful for people to see how I’d done it.

To start with, you need to get your form into NoteTaker. I did that by modifying an old form in Open Office, exporting it as a pdf, synching it onto the iPad via Dropbox (it would also work by emailing for those without Dropbox), and then opening the pdf in NoteTaker HD.

After that, the next step is to set up the form as a Background. To do that, tap on the “Tools” button in the lower left-hand corner of Note Taker’s main screen.

Tools menu

You will want to select “Backgrounds”, which will take you to the main Backgrounds screen:

Adding a Background

Select “Add New Item” and you will get a screen listing those pdf’s you have opened in NoteTaker.

Selecting your new Background

Select the pdf you want to use as the Background by tapping on it once, and you will see the proposed background on the right:

Confirm the new Background

Select “Save” at the bottom, and it will ask you to name the new Background:

Name the Background

You need to change some settings, so go back down to the Tools menu and tap on “App settings”

Change your Email Settings

NOTE:  This is a critical setting. The default setting under “Include Background (Lines and Images) in PDF Output” is No. You need to change that to Yes by tapping on the right carrot at the end of the setting (See circled area) and selecting “Yes”.

Now you’ve got the basic settings in. The next step is to get ready for court, which will follow in my next post.

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Hello world!

My name is Anita Fuoss and welcome to my blog!

I’m a small-town lawyer based in Murdo, South Dakota.  Those of us who live in small towns experience special challenges — and special joys — in practicing law and life.  I hope to share some of those with you.

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