Chief Justice Gilbertson’s lasting legacy: Finding solutions

GILBERTSON RETIRES--South Dakota Chief Justice David Gilbertson, pictured above with his wife Deborah, recently retired from the bench. They have retired to Brookings after Gilbertson served 30 years as justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court, the last 19 years as chief justice. ~Courtesy Photo

By Mimi Larsen Staff Writer This is Part II of a two-part series about the life and legacy of the nation’s longest-serving state supreme court chief justice, David Gilbertson, who retired on Jan. 5, 2021.

In 2001, after serving six years on the supreme court as an associate justice, Gilbertson’s fellow justices elected him to the Chief Justice position for a four-year term. It was the first of five such terms, and Gilbertson confirmed the faith of his peers for 19 years, finding creative solutions to the problems that arose. He was not able to finish his final term, because state law mandates retirement at age 70.

In South Dakota, the position of Chief Justice entails much more than leadership of the supreme court.

“The supreme court is required, under the state constitution, with administering the entire court system to the entire state of South Dakota,” said Gilbertson. “We have court houses in 62 counties; we have 43 trial judges and 16 magistrate judges. We have about 575 employees and a budget of around $60 million that the Chief Justice manages" For more on this story and many more please purchase a copy of the Sisseton Courier on news stands now or purchase a copy of the E-edtion on this website..