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The South Dakota Unified Judicial System serves a population of more than 750,000 people through a system of circuit and magistrate courts, topped by a state supreme court that is the state’s court of last resort. 

South Dakota Supreme Court

The South Dakota Supreme Court consists of a chief justice, presently David E. Gilbertson, and four associates who are appointed by the governor from five appointment districts within the state. Justices are retained or removed from office by a nonpartisan ballot in the general election three years after their appointment. The chief justice is chosen by the judges themselves from within their own ranks, and serves as the administrative head of the Unified Judicial System.

As South Dakota’s court of last resort, the Supreme Court’s primary function is that of an appeals court. The court receives appeals from the Circuit Court level and determines whether the prior court’s decision was correct in law. Occasionally, the Supreme Court can issue original or remedial writs and advise the governor on issues concerning the execution of that office’s executive powers. 

Beyond its judicial functions, the South Dakota Supreme Court administers the state’s unified court system. The court prepares and submits an annual budget for the entire judicial structure of the state. It appoints court personnel. The Supreme Court also is responsible for making the rules covering the practice and procedure of courtrooms in the state, administration of the courts, terms of the courts, admissions to the bar, and discipline of attorneys and judges.

The court’s calendar and opinions are available online, and also are searchable. There’s even a link to live audio from the Supreme Court. 

South Dakota Circuit Courts

South Dakota’s 66 counties are divided into seven judicial circuits. There are 38 judges in Circuit Court. Judges are elected on nonpartisan ballots to serve eight-year terms. The governor appoints replacement judges as needed, and the Supreme Court appoints one judge from each circuit to act as presiding judge, the person who supervises and administers operations within the circuit.

The circuit courts are South Dakota’s general trial courts. They have original jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters. They are the only court where a criminal felony can be tried, and also the only venue where a civil case worth more than $10,000 can be heard at trial. Circuit courts also have appellate jurisdiction over appeals rising from Magistrate Court.

Circuit clerk offices are maintained in each county of the circuit. A list of contacts for court services officials in each circuit is also readily available.

As a state with a notable Native American population, South Dakota’s “Indian Law Book” is also a valuable resource that is available online. 

South Dakota Magistrate Court

The lowest tier of the judicial system in South Dakota is Magistrate Court. Thee venues are presided over by lay magistrates or by magistrate judges. A magistrate judge must be a licensed attorney, while lay magistrates need only be high school graduates.

Magistrate courts primarily assist the Circuit Court in their region by processing minor criminal cases and less serious civil matters. Whether presided over by a lay magistrate or a magistrate judge, the magistrate courts can perform marriages, receive dispositions, accept pleas for Class 2 misdemeanors and hear non-contested civil and small claims actions where the amount of money or damages sought does not exceed $8,000.

South Dakota’s magistrate courts that are presided over by a magistrate judge, rather than a lay magistrate, can also share additional authority with the local Circuit Court. Courts led by magistrate judges can conduct a preliminary hearing in a criminal case, act as a “committing magistrate” for all purposes, and conduct misdemeanor trials.

Magistrate judges may also decide temporary protection orders, try civil cases in which the claim is $10,000 or less, and try small claims cases not exceeding $8,000.

South Dakota Courts Online - Access State and County Records Data

Supreme Court Opinions

Unified Judicial System

South Dakota Judicial System - Search the court calendar and opinions for the South Dakota courts.

United States District Court - District of South Dakota

United States Bankruptcy Court - District of South Dakota

McKusick Law Library - The law library located at the University of South Dakota is available for online searches as well as various other research services.

South Dakota Criminal Justice Directory - Search the South Dakota Criminal Justice Directory for criminal justice professionals.

South Dakota Supreme Court - Download PDF versions of Rules Hearings dating back to 2002. 

South Dakota Unified Judicial System - Live Real Audio Sessions are available when oral arguments are taking place in the Supreme Court.

South Dakota Indian Law Book - Download the UJS Indian Law Book in PDF format from the South Dakota Courts system.

South Dakota Court Forms - Download PDF versions of court forms including civil filing statements, confidential information forms, financial document forms, stalking protection order forms and court record requests.

South Dakota Courts - Criminal and Civil Records information is now available statewide through the county courts.

South Dakota County Courthouse Clerks - Addresses and Phone Numbers

Aurora County
P.O. Box 397
Plankinton, SD 57368-0366

Telephone: (605) 942-7161

Beadle County
P.O. Box 55
Huron, SD 57350

Telephone: (605) 352-3168

Bennett County
P.O. Box 433
Martin, SD 57551

Telephone: (605) 685-6054

Bon Homme County
Box 3
Tyndall, SD 57066

Telephone: (605) 589-4217

Brookings County
314 6th Ave.
Brookings, SD 57006

Telephone: (605) 688-4200

Brown County
Box 1307
Aberdeen, SD 57401

Telephone: (605) 626-7140

Brule County
300 S. Courtland, Suite 110
Chamberlain, SD 57325

Telephone: (605) 734-5310

Buffalo County
Courthouse Square, Box 174
Gann Valley, SD 57341

Telephone: (605) 293-3239

Butte County
839 5th Ave.
Belle Fourche, SD 57717

Telephone: (605) 892-2912

Campbell County
P.O. Box 148
Mound City, SD 57646-0148

Telephone: (605) 955-3505

Charles Mix County
P.O. Box 206
Lake Andes, SD 57356

Telephone: (605) 487-7141

Clark County
P.O. Box 294
Clark, SD 57225-0294

Telephone: (605) 532-5363

Clay County
P.O. Box 536
Vermillion, SD 57069-0536

Telephone: (605) 677-7130

Codington County
P.O. Box 1054
Watertown, SD 57201-3611

Telephone: (605) 882-5095

Corson County
P.O. Box 256
McIntosh, SD 57641-0256

Telephone: (605) 273-4395

Custer County
420 Mt. Rushmore Rd.
Custer, SD 57730

Telephone: (605) 673-4816

Davison County
200 E. 4th St.
Mitchell, SD 57301

Telephone: (605) 995-3808

Day County
710 W. 1st St.
Webster, SD 57274-1396

Telephone: (605) 345-4162

Deuel County
P.O. Box 308
Clear Lake, SD 57226-0308

Telephone: (605) 874-2120

Dewey County
P.O. Box 117
Timber Lake, SD 57656-0117

Telephone: (605) 865-3661

Douglas County
P.O. Box 267
Armour, SD 57313

Telephone: (605) 724-2204

Edmunds County
P.O. Box 386
Ipswich, SD 57451

Telephone: (605) 426-6431

Fall River County
906 N. River St.
Hot Springs, SD 57747

Telephone: (605) 745-5139

Faulk County
P.O. Box 309
Faulkton, SD 57438-0309

Telephone: (605) 598-6228

Grant County
P.O. Box 587
Milbank, SD 57252-0587

Telephone: (605) 432-4752

Gregory County
P.O. Box 437
Burke, SD 57523-0437

Telephone: (605) 775-2624

Haakon County
P.O. Box 100
Philip, SD 57567

Telephone: (605) 859-2785

Hamlin County
P.O. Box 56
Hayti, SD 57241

Telephone: (605) 783-3206

Hand County
415 W. 1st Ave.
Miller, SD 57362-1346

Telephone: (605) 853-3512

Hanson County
P.O. Box 500
Alexandria, SD 57311-0500

Telephone: (605) 239-4512

Harding County
P.O. Box 101
Buffalo, SD 57720

Telephone: (605) 375-3321

Hughes County
104 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501

Telephone: (605) 773-7495

Hutchinson County
140 Euclid, Room 37
Olivet, SD 57052-2103

Telephone: (605) 387-4217

Hyde County
P.O. Box 342
Highmore, SD 57345

Telephone: (605) 852-2517


Jackson County
P.O. Box 248
Kadoka, SD 57543-0248

Telephone: (605) 837-2420

Jerauld County
P.O. Box 452
Wessington Springs, SD 57382-0452

Telephone: (605) 539-1221

Jones County
P.O. Box 446
Murdo, SD 57559-0446

Telephone: (605) 669-2132

Kingsbury County
P.O. Box 176
De Smet, SD 57231

Telephone: (605) 854-3811

Lake County
County Courthouse
200 E. Center
Madison, SD 57042

Telephone: (605) 256-5644

Lawrence County
P.O. Box 565
Deadwood, SD 57732

Telephone: (605) 578-3930

Lincoln County
100 E. 5th St.
Canton, SD 57013

Telephone: (605) 987-5891

Lyman County
P.O. Box 98
Kennebec, SD 57544-0098

Telephone: (605) 869-2297

Marshall County
P.O. Box 130
Britton, SD 57430-0130

Telephone: (605) 448-2352

McCook County
P.O. Box 338
Salem, SD 57058

Telephone: (605) 425-2701

McPherson County
County Courthouse
Box 129
Leola, SD 57456

Telephone: (605) 439-3151

Meade County
1425 Sherman St.
Sturgis, SD 57785-0447

Telephone: (605) 347-2356

Mellette County
P.O. Box 183
White River, SD 57579-0183

Telephone: (605) 259-3371

Miner County
P.O. Box 546
Howard, SD 57349

Telephone: (605) 772-5621

Minnehaha County
415 N. Dakota Ave.
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-2465

Telephone: (605) 367-4223

Moody County
County Courthouse, P.O. Box 247
Flandreau, SD 57028-0247

Telephone: (605) 997-3151

Pennington County
315 St Joseph St.
Rapid City, SD 57701

Telephone: (605) 394-2177

Perkins County
P.O. Box 127
Bison, SD 57620-0127

Telephone: (605) 244-5620

Potter County
201 S. Exene St.
Gettysburg, SD 57442

Telephone: (605) 765-9467

Roberts County
411 2nd Ave. E
Sisseton, SD 57262-1495

Telephone: (605) 698-7152

Sanborn County
P.O. Box 295
Woonsocket, SD 57385-0295

Telephone: (605) 796-4516

Shannon County
906 N. River St.
Hot Springs, SD 57747-1387

Telephone: (605) 745-5139

Spink County
P.O. Box 226
Redfield, SD 57469

Telephone: (605) 472-0150

Stanley County
P.O. Box 596
Fort Pierre, SD 57532-0596

Telephone: (605) 223-2610

Sully County
P.O. Box 265
Onida, SD 57564-0265

Telephone: (605) 258-2331

Todd County
200 E. 3rd St.
Winner, SD 57580-1806

Telephone: (605) 842-2208

Tripp County
200 E. 3rd St.
Winner, SD 57580-1806

Telephone: (605) 842-2208

Turner County
P.O. Box 485
Parker, SD 57053-0485

Telephone: (605) 297-3443

Union County
P.O. Box 757
Elk Point, SD 57025

Telephone: (605) 356-2132

Walworth County
P.O. Box 159
Selby, SD 57472-

Telephone: (605) 649-7057

Yankton County
P.O. Box 694
Yankton, SD 57078-0694

Telephone: (605) 665-2422

Ziebach County
P.O. Box 68
Dupree, SD 57623-0068

Telephone: (605) 365-5165

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