Joint dedication: Justice John K. Konenkamp & Professor Jo Pasqualucci.

Author:Gilbertson, David
Position:South Dakota Supreme Court justice and South Dakota School of Law professor - Includes 9 testimonials - Testimonial



The Review is honored to jointly dedicate Volume 60 to Justice John K. Konenkamp, who is retiring after twenty years of service on the South Dakota Supreme Court. From all accounts, Justice Konenkamp has been both an essential leader and a significant contributor to the judicial system in South Dakota. Tributes from those who worked most closely with him follow his profile.

Justice Konenkamp was born on October 20, 1944, in Brooklyn, New York. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in 1967. After serving in the United States Navy, he then attended the University of South Dakota School of Law and obtained his Juris Doctor in 1974. After law school, he practiced as a Deputy State's Attorney in Rapid City, South Dakota and then worked in private practice. In 1984, he was appointed as a Circuit Judge and subsequently became the Presiding Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit. After a decade on the trial bench, he was appointed by Governor Walter Dale Miller to the Supreme Court in 1994. Justice Konenkamp has authored approximately 500 opinions and participated in approximately 2,500 cases as a Justice with the Court.

Devoted to improving the judicial system, Justice Konenkamp is a member of the National Advisory Council of the American Judicature Society, which addresses judicial problems and concerns nationwide. He has also served as co-chair for the South Dakota Equal Justice Commission, was a board member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, and was a member of the Advisory Board for the Casey Program.

Justice Konenkamp and his wife, Geri, have two children, Kathryn and Matthew, and six grandchildren. He and his wife are also former foster parents for the Department of Social Services.

In acknowledgement of Justice Konenkamp's faithful service, commitment to the judicial system, and to the legal profession as a whole, the Editorial Board is honored to jointly dedicate Volume 60 to him. Although this dedication serves as only a small tribute, we are honored to recognize such a prestigious individual. Thank you for all your years of service.


Since 1889 only forty-eight persons have been privileged to serve the citizens of South Dakota as a Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court. None have done it with more distinction that Justice John Konenkamp.

As Justice John Konenkamp closes out a distinguished 30 year career in South Dakota's judicial system, it is my honor to recognize his many and significant contributions, not the least of which is twenty years as a Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Justice John Konenkamp's judicial opinions are noted for their clarity and insightfulness. In my opinion, this is in part because of the experience he brought to this position. In his early career he was a trial lawyer. He then became a Circuit Judge in the Seventh Judicial Circuit. Thus, his opinions carried a healthy dose of experience and common sense and were not limited to textbook solutions. He authored approximately 500 opinions for the South Dakota Supreme Court. He participated in approximately 2500 cases on our Court.

The portico of the United States Supreme Court proclaims, "Equal Justice Under Law." Justice John Konenkamp not only believed this, he put it into practice. In 2005 he was concerned that not all of our citizens were being able to equally participate in our legal system. He convinced the Supreme Court to create the Equal Justice Commission. He also co-chaired the Commission. Unlike most commissions and boards which require those who appear before them to come to Pierre, he took the Equal Justice Commission to the people to learn first-hand what problems they were incurring in participating in our state's legal system. It held hearings on every Reservation in the State as well as in Pierre and Sioux Falls. The recommendations of the Equal Justice Commission were so impressive that the Supreme Court enacted every one of them it had jurisdiction over within nine months of receiving the Commission's report.

Most important among them was the recommendation that the South Dakota Bar Exam test on the subject of Indian Law. We became only the second state in the nation to do so and we assured that people certified by the South Dakota Supreme Court as competent to practice law were also competent in the area of Indian law.

In the slogan of the professional athletes, John and Geri Konenkamp did not just "talk the talk--they walked the walk." Besides raising their own family, they took many foster children into their home.

Justice Konenkamp was also a leading force in promoting the Odyssey Project which brings all of our judicial records and filings into the electronic era. We near completion of this fine project.

Justice Konenkamp provided permanent improvements to all aspects of judging that he touched. It has been a privilege for me to have worked alongside him for the past nineteen years.

My father once said it is a humbling experience that for most of us, the world could have gotten along quite nicely without us if we had never been born. He said it is the few, the very few, who make a difference and the world would have been a poorer place without them. Justice John Konenkamp is one of those rare and special people.

([dagger]) Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court.

STEVEN ZINTER ([dagger])

Although John Konenkamp and I were circuit court judges at the same time, I did not come to fully appreciate the qualities of this man until he became the forty-third member of the South Dakota Supreme Court. Nine thousand, three hundred case filings later, it is apparent to all that he has not only been a remarkable contributor to the Court's jurisprudence, but he has been a monumental force in improving the legal system.

In addition to the law, John is well read on virtually every subject imaginable. His broad range of knowledge brought much to our conferences and to his judicial opinions. His experiences...

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