Political Science League hosts Chief Justice Gilbertson
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Political Science League hosts Chief Justice Gilbertson

Chief Justice David Gilbertson spoke about the significant role of the South Dakota Supreme Court within the legal system of South Dakota in an event hosted by the political science league (PSL) Thursday night.

Gilbertson said people need to be educated on the South Dakota Supreme Court.

“Very few people know how the South Dakota Supreme Court works,” Gilbertson said. “The South Dakota Supreme court can affect their lives, their freedom (and) their property.”

Gilbertson is a USD Law school graduate of 1975 and held a successful career as an attorney in private practice and as a prosecutor in Sisseton, SD.

He also served as a circuit judge for North Eastern South Dakota before being appointed South Dakota Supreme Court Justice in 1995 by Governor Bill Janklow. In 2001, Gilbertson was elected Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court.

With USD as his alma mater, Gilbertson said he enjoys returning to campus.

“I love to come back here (to USD). I come here nearly a dozen times during the year. I am active in various elements of the law school,” Gilbertson said. “We (the South Dakota Supreme Court) have held court there. I have taught lectures there.”

Chief Justice Gilbertson said the purpose of his job is to “see that policy is carried out.”

“The court employs 550 employees to run the legal system for the whole state in every county… It’s my job to work with the governor to create a budget and legislation. I also preside over court hearings,” Gilbertson said. “I’m a member (of) the Conference of Chief Justices which is comprised of 57 justices across the United States. I also sit on the Court of Appeals with the other four justices.”

Anna Madsen, vice president of PSL and senior political science major said Chief Justice Gilberston did a good job explaining what he does for his job.

“It’s great that (Gilbertson) chose to describe the entire system when he could have just described his initiatives or what he did in his career,” Madsen said. “It shows a lot about his character that chose the system in its entirety rather than focusing on his own achievements.”

Taylor Gubbrud, former president of PSL and USD senior political science major said bipartisanship was learned at the event.

“Chief Justice Gilbertson shared the importance of bipartisanship in the Supreme Court and the justice system,” Gubbrud said. “Bipartisanship is a definite objective of the political science League.”