PIERRE, S.D. (AP/KCAU) – The South Dakota Supreme Court has announced that they have selected Justice Steven R. Jensen to serve as the next Chief Justice of the state’s highest court.
He will assume the office of Chief Justice immediately upon the retirement of Chief Justice David E. Gilbertson in January 2021.
“We need no reminder today that we continue to face challenges ahead, but I am truly looking forward to serving the people of South Dakota as Chief Justice. I am grateful to Chief Justice David Gilbertson who leaves the court system in a strong position. I can only hope to carry on his legacy of innovation and dedication to a strong and independent judiciary that provides invaluable services to our citizens,” said Justice Jensen.
He was selected by his peers to serve as the next Chief Justice.
Gov. Noem issued a statement on Tuesday congratulating him on his selection as the next Chief Justice of the state’s Supreme Court.
“Congratulations to Justice Steven Jensen on his selection to serve as the next Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court. Justice Jensen is a great public servant and, though he has some big shoes to fill, I’m sure he’s up to the task,” said Governor Noem.
She also thanked the outgoing Chief Justice Gilbertson for his long career of service to South Dakota that includes his 20 years as Chief Justice, the longest tenure in the state’s history.
“From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Chief Justice Gilbertson for his more than three decades of service to our state. He’s been a true public servant and a leader on improving and reforming our judicial system, and I have greatly valued his advice, wisdom, and support since taking office as Governor,” said Governor Noem.
The Chief Justice is the administrative head of the South Dakota court system, which has 586 employees and an annual operating budget of $58 million.
The Chief Justice also works very closely with the Governor and the Legislative on the matters that are related to the court system in the state.
Justice Jensen became a circuit judge in 2003 and was appointed to the South Dakota Supreme Court in 2017 by former Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
He also clerked for Justice Richard W. Sabers on the South Dakota State Supreme Court before entering private practice in 1989.
Jensen grew up on a farm near Wakonda. He received his undergraduate degree from Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1985 and his Juris Doctor from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1988.
He lives in Union County with his wife, Sue, and their three children.