The South Dakota Supreme Court is the highest court in the state of South Dakota. The Supreme Court is composed of five justices, including a Chief Justice and four associate justices. These justices are appointed to the office by the Governor from five appointment districts. Justices are retained by a nonpolitical retention election three years after appointment and every eight years thereafter. The Justices select a Chief Justice, from among themselves, who serve as the administrative head of the Unified Judicial System.
Since the Supreme Court of South Dakota is the state’s highest Court and Court of last resort, its primary function is that of an appeals Court. Parties seeking to change an adverse Circuit Court decision appeal to the Supreme Court. The Court then examines the Circuit Court proceedings and determines whether the Circuit Court’s decision was correct. The Supreme Court has such appellate jurisdiction as may be provided by the Legislature. The Supreme Court or any justice may issue any original or remedial writ which is then heard and determined by that Court as provided in Section five of Article V South Dakota Constitution. The Governor has authority to require opinions of the Supreme Court upon important questions of law involved in the exercise of his executive power and upon solemn occasions.
Apart from its judicial functions, the Supreme Court also administrates the statewide unified Court system. Administratively, the Court prepares and submits an annual budget for the entire system. It generally supervises the work of the Circuit Courts to secure the prompt disposition of cases. It appoints court personnel. The Supreme Court also makes rules covering practice and procedure, administration of the Courts, terms of Courts, admissions to the Bar, and discipline of the members of the Bar.