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Chief Justice Gilbertson Reflects On Time In Court System

Chief Gilbertson

Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court, David Gilbertson retires this year. He has served the Unified Judicial System for more than 3 decades. Justice Gilbertson says, over his career, he remembers working on and implementing new drug and alcohol programs.

“I have tried to change our court system into a proactive system; where we will take a person with a problem who’s in front of the judge for probably a criminal accusation and deal with that problem so that we don’t see them over and over and over again. Maybe the wake-up call for me goes all the way back the beginning my first ten years of my legal career was a prosecutor and by the end of those ten years I was seeing some of these people going to the pen three or four times. Slowly it dawned on me that the system as it was operating wasn’t really succeeding in a great number of cases.”

Justice Gilbertson says over the last year one of the more promising programs he has seen developing is a remote mental health services program that equips different parts of the justice system with iPads and access to mental health professionals for consultation of detainees. He says the idea was a pilot project last year and may be expanded based on the results of this upcoming legislative session.

-Contact SDPB’s David Scottby email.