CHIEF JUSTICE DAVID GILBERTSON.

Date22 March 2021
AuthorJensen, Steven R.

The Board of Editors of the South Dakota Law Review is pleased to dedicate Volume 66 to Chief Justice David Gilbertson of the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Gilbertson grew up in Sisseton, SD. He received his undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University in 1972, and his Juris Doctorate from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1975. After law school, he worked in private practice until he was appointed to the circuit court bench in 1986. He served as a Circuit Judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit from 1986 until his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1995.

Chief Justice Gilbertson was first elected to a 4-year term as Chief Justice by the members of the Supreme Court in September 2001. Members of the Supreme Court subsequently re-elected the Chief Justice to serve four more terms. Voters retained the Chief Justice in the 1998, 2006, and 2014 statewide retention elections. When he retired on January 5, 2021, Chief Justice Gilbertson was the longest serving Chief Justice in the history of South Dakota.

Beyond the courtroom, Chief Justice Gilbertson has provided leadership at the local and national level and has received various preeminent awards. Chief Justice Gilbertson was the first South Dakotan to serve as the President of the Conference of Chief Justices for the 2015-16 Term. He previously held the positions of Board Member, First Vice President, President-elect, and chaired various committees. Chief Justice Gilbertson served as the sole state court representative to the Criminal Rules Committee of the United States Courts from 2010 to 2016 after being selected by United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. He was the recipient of the "Grass Roots" Award by the American Bar Association in 2014 for his defense of judicial independence and developing programs to increase attorneys in rural areas of South Dakota. In 2015 he was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of South Dakota and in 2016 he was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus of South Dakota State University.

Chief Justice Gilbertson has been instrumental in shaping South Dakota's legal landscape. He led the effort to create various specialty courts including the drug courts, DUI courts, mental health courts, and veteran courts. Recognizing the need for legal services in rural South Dakota, the Chief Justice worked with the State Bar and members of the State Legislature to create the Rural Attorney Recruitment Program. He has served as the President of the South Dakota Judges Association. He also served on the Judicial-Bar Liaison Committee of the State Bar Association and has served as a Court Counselor for South Dakota Boys State since 1995.

Chief Justice Gilbertson and his wife, Deb, have four children. He is a member of the South Dakota Bar Association.

STEVEN R. JENSEN ([dagger])

Chief Justice David Gilbertson

Chief Justice David Gilbertson retired this past year from the South Dakota Supreme Court after serving as a justice for twenty-five years and as Chief Justice for twenty of those years. As the administrative head of the judicial branch in South Dakota, Chief Justice Gilbertson led with vision, a steady hand, and humility. Just a few of his many accomplishments as Chief Justice include establishing nineteen problem-solving courts, starting the rural attorney program, overseeing criminal justice reform, and moving our courts from paper filing to an electronic filing system. Perhaps one of Chief Justice Gilbertson's most significant but intangible contributions was the collegiality and goodwill he fostered both inside and outside the court system during his time as Chief Justice.

Chief Justice Gilbertson's leadership reputation also extends well beyond the boundaries of South Dakota. He was elected as President of the Conference of Chief Justices and appointed to serve in other national judicial leadership positions. A couple of years back, I visited with a highly respected federal...

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