U.S. District Judge Kornmann Honored with McKusick Award

Photo of Judge Kornmann, Judge Viken and Morgan Nelson. Judge Kornmann, standing with Judge Viken and law student Morgan Nelson, is the 2017 winner of the Marshall M. McKusick Award.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The Student Bar Association of the University of South Dakota School of Law presented United States District Judge Charles B. Kornmann of the Northern District of South Dakota with the Marshall M. McKusick Award for his exemplary service to the legal profession at the Annual Meeting of the State Bar of South Dakota in Rapid City, June 23.

“Thanks again for all your kindness in giving me this award. I am, as I said, deeply honored,” said Judge Kornmann who reflected on his career in the legal profession at the ceremony. “Having had at one time the third highest criminal caseload in the country, I have told some defendants who claimed to have found God while awaiting sentencing, ‘I have brought almost as many people to Jesus as Rev. Billy Graham.’”

“Judge Kormann served the community of Aberdeen, South Dakota, through 30 years of distinguished private law practice,” said Judge Jeffrey L. Viken, Chief U.S. District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota. “[He] played a critical role in restoring to service the federal courthouse in Aberdeen, the only federal court location for the northeast quadrant of South Dakota.”

Born in Watertown, South Dakota, Judge Kornmann attended St. Thomas University before earning his juris doctorate degree from Georgetown University Law School in 1962.

Active in public service and South Dakota politics, Judge Kornmann served as a capitol police officer in Washington D.C. from 1959-62, as a campaign assistant on George McGovern’s U.S. Senate campaign in 1963, and executive director of the South Dakota Democratic Party from 1963-65. He also served as a captain in the South Dakota National Guard from 1963-72.

In 1974, he was appointed by the South Dakota Supreme Court to the Constitutional Revision Commission that made recommendations for amendments to the South Dakota Constitution.

Judge Kornmann served as president of the South Dakota State Bar Association from 1988-89 and was also the president and director of the South Dakota State Bar Foundation. He served on the Bar Foundation board of directors from 1989-94 and was president of the Bar Foundation from 1994-95.

“On behalf of the Student Bar Association and future legal professionals within South Dakota, I am honored to present Judge Kornmann the McKusick Award,” said Morgan Nelson, a third year law student and president of the Student Bar Association at USD. “Judge Kornmann’s extensive history of public service as well as his dedication to the Judiciary and legal profession is truly inspiring as an aspiring attorney.”

Each year the Student Bar Association awards the McKusick award to a member of the South Dakota Bar for their contributions to the legal profession. The award is named in honor of Marshall M. McKusick, who served the legal profession and the law school for nearly five decades.


USD’s School of Law prepares students for leadership in the administration of justice in South Dakota, including in rural areas where the demand is great, and for private practice, public service, business and other law-related endeavors anywhere. Its joint degree program allows students to also earn one of nine master’s degrees within the traditional three-year law curriculum, which includes course tracks in business, commercial, constitutional, criminal, employment, environmental, Indian, real estate and tax law as well as civil litigation and estate planning.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Michael Ewald
USD News