According to a joint recusal filed by judges Arthur Rusch and Glen Eng, Robert Chavis left the message on the local circuit court voice mail Sept. 18 following the death of First Judicial Circuit Court judge Lee Anderson. Rusch and Eng state in the recusal they can "positively" identify the voice as belonging to Chavis.
Chavis lost a re-election bid for the state's attorney office in 2004 and now practices law privately with the Brevik Law Office in Yankton.
A transcript of the message attributed to Chavis is included in the court document, which was filed Sept. 20.
Chavis apparently believed he was leaving the message with someone else, and after saying some derogatory things about First Circuit Court Administrator Kim Allison, the transcript quotes him as saying: "(Judge Anderson) was a good guy, I'll tell you what. He was a lawyer, and he has a little compassion, and he could recall what it was like to work his (expletive) off. The good ones die. Why can't Eng or Rusch fall over dead, you know? I'll tell you what, I have no idea. (inaudible) Why doesn't Rusch fall over dead?"
Chavis was on vacation in Europe this week and could not be reached for comment. Marcia Brevik, an attorney at the Brevik Law Office, would not comment on the incident.
Additionally, neither Eng nor Rusch would comment further on the situation.
Larry Zastrow, an employee of the State Bar of South Dakota, said last Friday he couldn't speculate on whether the incident could result in disciplinary action. The bar could consider the matter if a written complaint was submitted to the organization's Disciplinary Board, he said.