Dedication to Judge Kathleen F. Trandahl.

AuthorWilbur, Lori S.
PositionSouth Dakota Sixth Judicial Circuit Court - Includes 4 testimonials - Testimonial

The Board of Editors of the South Dakota Law Review is honored to dedicate Volume 62 to Judge Kathleen F. Trandahl of South Dakota's Sixth Judicial Circuit Court. The South Dakota Law Review joins Judge Trandahl's colleagues in saluting her outstanding career as a lawyer, colleague, and judge. The Board is pleased to be able to recognize, through this dedication, Judge Trandahl's outstanding record of service on the bench as well as her contributions to South Dakota's legal community.


Judge Trandahl, a native of Madison, South Dakota, graduated from Augustana (College) University in 1982, and attended the Institute of Comparative Political and Economic Systems at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Judge Trandahl continued her education at the University of South Dakota School of Law, graduating in 1985. She was admitted to the South Dakota Bar in 1986, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court in 1989.

Judge Trandahl began her legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable Dale E. Bradshaw of South Dakota's Third Judicial Circuit. In 1986, she became the Deputy State's Attorney for Tripp County in Winner, South Dakota. Judge Trandahl also worked in private practice for seven years before becoming the sole proprietor of Trandahl Law office in 1993. In 1994, Governor Walter Miller appointed Judge Trandahl to the bench for South Dakota's Sixth Judicial Circuit.

In addition to her professional responsibilities, Judge Trandahl has also generously dedicated her time to assisting with the implementation of HOPE Probation in Tripp and Gregory Counties and has worked as a backup judge for the STOP DUI/Drug Court for Hughes and Stanley Counties. She has also has served as Chair for the Court Appointed Special Advocates ("CASA") Commission, the State Chair for iCivics, and participated in the Governor's Commission on the Indian Child Welfare Act and the South Dakota Equal Justice Commission. Judge Trandahl volunteers her time helping out with various events and activities at the University of South Dakota School of Law.

Outside of the legal community, Judge Trandahl also currently serves as President of P.E.O., Chapter AM, on the Board of Directors for South Dakota Voices for Children, and is a member of Rotary International. She also enjoys spending time with her husband, Edward Hellewell; sons, Nick and Ryan Trandahl; step-children, Eve, Joshua, and Taylor (Amber) Hellewell; and stepgrandchildren, Jayden, Rylee, Stryder, Noah, Hannah, and Sarah.

Judge Trandahl's decades of service have earned her the highest respect from members of the State Bar of South Dakota, the University of South Dakota School of Law, and the community that she has served. As a result, Judge Trandahl has been honored with numerous awards, including the 2014 University of South Dakota's Women in Law Attorney of the Year Award, the Rotary International Paul Harris Award, and the Distinguished Graduate Award from St. Thomas School in Madison, South Dakota.


We grew up in the same town, our parents were good friends, but I did not really get to know Kathleen Felker Trandahl until I had the privilege to serve as a judge with her. The Sixth Circuit, where we served together from 1994 until 2011, is gigantic--about 17,720 square miles. That is slightly smaller than the states of Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut and New Jersey combined (I was convinced the Sixth Circuit had more pheasants than people). We covered many miles just to get to court without regard to the time it took to conduct court sessions. There is no doubt that Judge Trandahl holds the Sixth Circuit record for miles driven on Highway 18.

I especially enjoyed the gender equity of having Judge Trandahl at the table at judge's meetings when policy decisions needed to be made. Judge Trandahl was innovative, not shy, and had a finely honed sense of justice. It took Judge Trandahl about ten years of "judging" to see that addictions were a major problem for our citizens and our court system. She realized the tools available to deal with those addictions were not working effectively. Judge Trandahl became a Drug Court pioneer and was part of the first team from South Dakota to attend National Association of Drug Court Professionals training in 2004. She blazed a trail by implementing drug court principles in the courtrooms she served in parts of the state with limited services but great need. This work exemplifies Judge Trandahl's dedication to the communities she served and those individuals who appeared before her. She treated folks...

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