john mayer

John Robert “JR” Mayer, 18, pleaded not guilty Wednesday, Aug. 28, in state court in Pierre to a felony count of possession of "shatter," a potent extract of marijuana. He was arrested around midnight Monday, July 29, by Pierre police on LaFramboise Island. His attorney, Russ Janklow, told retired Judge Thomas Trimble he was close to making a deal with prosecutors on the charge that could mean 5 years in prison. (Photo Hughes County Jail)

Police stopped John Mayer  minutes before midnight Monday, July 29 on LaFramboise Island in the Missouri River in Pierre on suspicion of under-age drinking and drug use.

By 12:40 a.m., Tuesday, Mayer, who turned 18 in January, was in the Hughes County Jail on expected charges of felony drug possession and five lesser charges, including underage drinking and using pot.

Hughes County State’s Attorney Roxanne Hammond’s office filed those six counts against Mayer later Tuesday.

Count 1, a charge of possessing a schedule I or II illegal drug -  a category comprising many drugs including LSD, cocaine, methamphetamine or oxycodone - is a Class 5 felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison upon conviction.

The other five charges are misdemeanor counts of possessing and using small amounts of pot and of having and using booze before he’s 21.

Mayer appeared before state Magistrate Judge Leo Disburg on Monday afternoon on the six counts and was given a personal recognizance bond and released from jail. His next court appearance likely will be later in August.

The case of John Robert Mayer, known as JR, involved some unusual switching around for the state circuit court in Pierre.

Mayer’s mother is state Sixth Circuit Judge Bridget Mayer. When she was appointed in March by Gov. Kristi Noem, Mayer had been an assistant attorney general in Pierre for 30 years.

Her husband is Deputy Attorney General Robert Mayer, top lieutenant to the state’s attorney general and senior to the 11 assistant attorney generals.

He’s been a prosecutor for about 35 years and in 2014 was named South Dakota’s top prosecutor of the year.

John Mayer gave the family’s home in Pierre as his address to police.

Heather Covey, administrator of the state’s Sixth Circuit Court based in Pierre, told the Capital Journal that the Circuit’s Presiding Judge Bobbi J. Rank had tabbed retired 7th Circuit Judge Thomas Trimble of Rapid City, to hear John Mayer’s case.

Whenever there’s a conflict of interest or even the appearance of one — as when a court employee maybe be involved in, or have a personal connection to, a case — a judge from outside the 6th Circuit is appointed to the case to maintain the neutrality needed, Covey said.

She said Judge Mayer would not be commenting on the issue, as is routine for judges to avoid public comment on any case.

The Sixth Circuit has four judges (one of the four slots is empty at the moment) and one magistrate judge to serve 14 counties.

Trimble served 20 years on the bench in the Rapid-City-based 7th circuit before he retired in 2014.

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