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Richard Howard Battey

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Name  Richard Battey

Education  University of South Dakota
Born  16 October 1929 (age 87), Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States

Died   6 May 2017 (aged 87) , Alexandria, Minnesota, United States

Richard Howard Battey.jpg

Richard Howard Battey' (October 16, 1929 – May 6, 2017) was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota.


Education and career

Battey was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota. After attending the University of South Dakota in 1950, he received a Juris Doctor from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1953. After serving as a United States Army Lieutenant from 1953 to 1955, he went into private practice in Redfield, South Dakota from 1955 to 1985.

Federal judicial service

1LT Richard Howard “Dick” Battey

Battey was nominated to be a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota by Ronald Reagan on September 27, 1985. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 25, 1985, and received his commission on October 28, 1985. He served as Chief Judge from 1994 to 1998. He assumed senior status on January 1, 1999, serving in that status until his death.

'Sue' Dinosaur case

Battey is known for being the presiding judge in the dispute over the recovery fossil remains on Federal lands including by the Sue discoverer Peter Larson and Black Hills Institute of Geological Research paleontologists. Battey, controversially, did not recuse himself from the prosecution of Larson. Battey sentenced Larson to two years in Federal Prison, despite the maximum sentence being only six months. South Dakota law makers have petitioned Barack Obama for a pardon for Larson. Battey is portrayed in a negative light for his handling of Sue Dinosaur Case in the Sundance Film Festival Documentary Dinosaur 13 and in the film Holy Man for his handling of the Douglas White child molestation case.

Douglas White case

The latter film mentions Judge Battey for denying Mr. White, a Lacota Sioux American Indian Medicine Man a new trial despite strong evidence he had been falsely accused by his two grandchildren who recanted that he had molested them in 1991. Judge Battey was also the presiding judge in the original federal trial where he did not allow the jury to know that Mr. White had been found not guilty in a tribal court. Despite strong judicial and public opinion, judge Battey's unwillingness to grant a new trial remains troubling and indicative of the unfair treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. legal system. Battey is widely viewed as racist and anti-indian among American Indian community due to his decisions against Native Americans. Douglas White served 17 years in federal prison and died on November 29, 2009.


Richard Battey died in Alexandria, Minnesota on May 6, 2017.


Richard Howard Battey Wikipedia