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State of South Dakota

Methods of Judicial Selection: South Dakota

Selection of Judges

Number of Judgeships
Supreme Court: 5
Circuit Court: 39
Number of Districts/Circuits
Supreme Court: 5
Circuit Court: 7
Geographic Basis for Selection
Supreme Court: district appointment; statewide retention
Circuit Court: circuit
Method of Selection (full term)
Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Circuit Court: nonpartisan election*
Length of Term
Supreme Court: at least 3 yrs
Circuit Court: 8 yrs
Method of Retention
Supreme Court: retention election
Circuit Court: reelection
Length of Subsequent Terms
Supreme Court: 8 yrs
Circuit Court: 8 yrs
Method of Filling Interim Vacancies
Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
Circuit Court: gubernatorial appointment from nominating commission
When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment
Supreme Court: next general election after 3 yrs in office
Circuit Court: hold office for remainder of unexpired term
Selection of Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: peer vote
Circuit Court: chief justice appoints
Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: 4 yrs
Circuit Court: at pleasure of chief justice
Qualifications
Supreme Court: U.S. citizen; state resident; voting resident within district; licensed to practice law in state; mandatory retirement age of 70
Circuit Court: U.S. citizen; state resident; voting resident within circuit; licensed to practice law in state; mandatory retirement age of 70

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Article V of the South Dakota Constitution.

*If more than two candidates file for a judicial position, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes in the primary election run in the general election. If no more than two candidates file for a judicial position, no primary election is held for the position.