William John "Bill" Janklow (born September 13, 1939), American politician with the Republican Party, was a four-term Governor of South Dakota and briefly a member of the United States House of Representatives.
Janklow was born in Chicago, Illinois and served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1956 to 1959. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1964 and received a law degree in 1966. During his political career Janklow, a Republican, served as South Dakota's attorney general (1975-1979), and served four terms as Governor of South Dakota (1979-1987) and (1995-2003). He defeated incumbent Governor Walter Dale Miller in the 1994 Republican primary. In 2002, Janklow was elected to South Dakota's only House of Representatives seat.
The controversial Janklow was the among the most successful politicians in South Dakota political history. He was elected to statewide office six times, each time a wide margin. In 1982, he was reelected with 70.9% of the vote, the highest percentage ever won by a candidate for Governor of South Dakota. His only electoral setback came in 1986, when he unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Senator James Abdnor in the Republican primary.
On August 16, 2003, Janklow was involved in a traffic accident when his white Cadillac hit 55-year old motorcyclist Randolph E. Scott at a rural intersection near Trent, South Dakota. Scott was thrown from his vehicle and instantly killed. Janklow suffered a broken hand and bleeding on the brain. In the ensuing investigation of the accident, it was determined Janklow had been driving at least 71 miles per hour in a 55-mph zone and that he had run a stop sign at the intersection where the collision occurred.
Janklow was arraigned on August 29 on charges of felony manslaughter and several misdemeanor counts. In response, Janklow said he "couldn't be sorrier" for the accident. His trial began on December 1 when he pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. In his defense, his lawyer argued that Janklow suffered a bout of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and was thus "confused" and "mixed up." Janklow testified that he had taken an insulin shot the morning of the accident and had subsequently not eaten anything throughout day, resulting in low blood sugar. Jurors were not informed of Janklow's record of three previous accidents and twelve speeding violations, thought his driving history had been widely reported in the local media. (Janklow has long been an unapologetic speeder; in a 1999 speech to the state legislature, he said, "Bill Janklow speeds when he drives — shouldn't, but he does. When he gets the ticket he pays it.")
On December 8, 2003, Janklow was convicted by a jury in Moody County of second-degree manslaughter, a felony which carries a maximum 10-year prison term and a $10,000 fine. He was also convicted on three related misdemeanors of failure to stop, speeding, and reckless driving. The first two misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. The top penalty for reckless driving is one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. On December 19, 2003, he filed a motion to have his conviction overturned on grounds of insufficient evidence.
Sentencing occurred on January 22, 2004 and Janklow was ordered to spend 100 days in jail. He was able to serve this time in the Minnehaha County jail in Sioux Falls rather than in the South Dakota State Penitentiary. After 30 days, he was able to leave the jail for several hours each day in order to perform community service. After his release on May 17, 2004, Janklow remains on probation for three years and will not be allowed to drive during this period.
On May 27, 2004, the pardons that Jankow granted during his governorship were released. Jankow had pardoned his son-in-law, William Gordon Haugen II, who was convicted of DUIs in 1983 and 1997 and marijuana possession in 1993. Janklow's resignation from Congress took effect on January 20, 2004. His replacement, Stephanie Herseth, was chosen in the South Dakota special election on June 1, 2004.
- Parties Expect Janklow's Collision to End His Career - Washington Post, August 22, 2003
- Jury Finds Janklow Guilty - Washington Post, December 8, 2003
- Lawmaker Guilty of Manslaughter; Says He'll Resign - New York Times, December 9, 2003
- Text of criminal complaints against Janklow (PDF file)
- News story on release