South Dakota State Courts

Courts – State Courts – South Dakota

Highest Court

The highest court in South Dakota is the Supreme Court of South Dakota.  The Supreme Court consists of 5 justices. It has jurisdiction over (1) Appellate jurisdiction, original, and remedial writs.

General Courts

Circuit Court
This Circuit Court consist of 38 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) civil actions, domestic relations, and  probate.
(2) Felonies and misdemeanors.(3) Juvenile and administrative appeals.
This court oversees jury trials.

Lawyer Magistrates
This Lawyer Magistrates consist 11 full-time and 3 part-time magistrates. It has jurisdiction over (1) Civil actions under $8,000, small claims, and mental health. (2) Misdemeanors, ordinance violations,  preliminary hearings, committing magistrate, search warrant, arrest warrant, and serve as coroner.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Lay Magistrates
This Lay Magistrates consist 87 lay magistrates, 61 of which are also clerks of court. It has jurisdiction over (1) Civil actions and small claims under $8,000 (uncontested). (2) Guilty pleas for misdemeanors and ordinance violations, preliminary hearings, search warrant, arrest warrant, and serve as coroner.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Additional Information

Mandatory retirement of justices at age seventy–Conclusion of pending matters
A Supreme Court Justice is automatically retired on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of January next after the general election in which Legislature members are elected after reaching the age of 70.  Such justice shall conclude all matters pending before him unless the Supreme Court makes other provisions for the disposition of such matters. (South Dakota Codified Laws Section 16-1-4.1)

Supreme Court library–Publications included–Control by justices
The Supreme Court Library shall hold all constitutions, statutes, sessions laws, court reports, digests, textbooks, and all legal publications owned by the state and under the control of the Supreme Court Justices.  (South Dakota Codified Laws Section Section 16-1-14)

Benefits retained by retired judge–Loss of benefits by removed judge
A retired Supreme Court judge shall not lose benefits entitled to him/her by chapter 3-12.  A judge removed by the Supreme court is permanently ineligible for judicial office and entitled to only a refund of contributions pursuant to section 3-12-76. (South Dakota Codified Laws Section Section 16-1A-13)

Liability for refusal to file or docket document
By court determination, a clerk is not liable for any civil damages for refusing to file or docket a document that should not be filed or docketed or if the clerk believed it was a counterfeit.
(South Dakota Codified Laws Section 16-2-49)

First day of term falling on holiday
Whenever the first day of any term of the circuit court falls upon a legal holiday, such term shall begin on the following day. (South Dakota Codified Laws Section 6-5-12.

Regular terms of circuit court held if cases ready for trial–Juries called
Regular terms of circuit court shall be designated by law and held in several counties when ready for trial.  Juries shall be called if needed. (South Dakota Codified Laws Section 16-5-23)

Service by retired justices and judges–Effect of acts
Retired justices and judges, with their consent, may be authorized by the Chief Justice to preside in any action or proceeding, or over any term of court, in the circuit court and when so authorized and acting, the orders, judgments, and decrees of that court entered by him are as effectual for all purposes as though made by a regularly elected or appointed judge. The Supreme Court shall provide for the reimbursement of their expenses. (South Dakota Codified Laws Section 16-6-32)

Temporary transfer of magistrate judge–Powers and duties
If the business of a magistrate court with a magistrate judge presiding becomes congested or if a magistrate judge is, for any cause, unable to act, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court may, by order, temporarily transfer to such magistrate court a magistrate judge from another circuit. The magistrate judge acting in a county other than one in his or her own circuit shall have all the powers and duties of a magistrate judge regularly appointed and qualified therein. (South Dakota Codified Laws Section Section 16-12B-1)

Discharge or suspension from employment for jury service as misdemeanor
A person will be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor for discharging any employee or suspending any employee from his employment for serving as a juror in any court in the State of South Dakota.
(South Dakota Codified Laws Section 16-13-41.1)

Summons of additional jurors to supply deficiencies in panel–Procedure where jury list exhausted
If any person summoned as grand and petit juror does not appear before the court, or if for any cause the panel of grand or petit jurors is not complete, or if no jury is drawn as provided by § 16-13-27, the court shall order the clerk of courts to summon without delay persons having the qualifications of jurors, whose names appear upon the master jury list, and if the jury list is exhausted then the clerk of courts shall request from the state court administrator’s office additional names on the master list pursuant to § 16-13-9.2. The trial court shall designate the persons authorized to assist the clerk of courts in contacting those summoned. The clerk and authorized assistants shall make and file with the court a memorandum of the manner in which attempts to contact additional jurors were made, responses or lack thereof, and the name of each additional
juror contacted. Each person so summoned shall forthwith appear before the court, and, if competent, shall serve on the grand or petit jury as the case may be unless excused or lawfully challenged. (South Dakota Codified Laws Section 16-13-42)


Inside South Dakota State Courts