Jan 31, 2005

The U to Honor Alumni on the South Dakota Supreme Court

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota is proud to announce a special award for all five South Dakota Supreme Court Justices, all graduates of The U. Chief Justice David Gilbertson and justices Richard Sabers, John Konenkamp, Judith Meierhenry, and Steven Zinter will be honored by the U at the annual USD Showcase event Feb. 8 at the Pierre Ramkota Hotel from 5 to 7 p.m. Remarks by President James W. Abbott and recognition of the Supreme Court justices will begin at 6 p.m. All alumni and friends are welcome.
“It is a privilege to honor these five extraordinary alumni who perfectly exemplify the high academic standards at The U. Our school of law provides a legal education that serves as a solid foundation for the practice of law or other professional careers anywhere in the world. The fact that university alumni make up 70 percent of all lawyers in South Dakota and sit in every seat of the South Dakota Supreme Court proves that The U offers a valuable education that translates into highly successful careers,” said The University of South Dakota President James W. Abbott.

Chief Justice David Gilbertson, a native of Sisseton, was elected to a 4-year term as Chief Justice by the members of the Supreme Court in September 2001. He received juris doctorate from The University of South Dakota School of Law in 1975 and engaged in private practice from 1975 until his appointment to the circuit court bench in 1986. During this time he also served as Roberts County Deputy State's Attorney and as city attorney for the city of Sisseton. He is past president of the South Dakota Judges Association; and is a member of the Glacial Lakes Bar Association, the Brown County Bar Association and the South Dakota Bar Association. He served on the Tribal-State Judges Forum in 1992 and the Civil Pattern Jury Instruction Committee from 1986 to 1999. He serves on the Judicial-Bar Liaison Committee of the State Bar Association and has served as a court counselor at South Dakota Boys State since 1995. Born Oct. 29, 1949, he and his wife Deborah, have four children.

Justice Richard Sabers was born in Salem on Feb. 12, 1938. He received his B.A. degree from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota in 1960 and after graduation served two years as a lieutenant with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the United States and in Germany. He attended The University of South Dakota School of Law, where he was associate editor of the Law Review. He received his law degree in 1966 and enjoyed an active career as a trial lawyer in Sioux Falls for almost twenty years. He was a partner with the law firm of Moore, Rasmussen, Sabers and Kading at the time of his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1986. Justice Sabers was retained by the voters in the 1990 general election and again in the 1998 general election. Justice Sabers was a member of the South Dakota Trial Lawyers' Association, the American Bar Association, and was president of the Second Judicial Circuit Bar in 1982-83.

Justice John Konenkamp, born Oct. 20, 1944, represents the First Supreme Court District, which includes Custer, Fall River, Lawrence, Meade and Pennington counties. After serving in the United States Navy, he attended The University of South Dakota School of Law, graduating in 1974. He practiced in Rapid City as a deputy states attorney until 1977. He then engaged in private practice until 1984 when he was appointed a circuit judge. In May 1988, he became presiding judge of the seventh circuit. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1994 after ten years on the trial bench and was retained by the voters in the 1998 general election. He is a member of the State Bar of South Dakota, American Legion, Pennington County Bar Association, and a director in the American Judicature Society. Justice Konenkamp and his wife, Geri, are former foster parents for the Department of Social Services. Justice Konenkamp serves on a number of boards advancing the improvement of the legal system and the protection of children, including the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee and the Advisory Board for the Casey Family Program.

Justice Steven Zinter, of Pierre, was appointed to the Supreme Court on April 2, 2002. Justice Zinter received his B.S. degree from The University of South Dakota in 1972. He received his juris doctorate from The University of South Dakota School of Law in 1975. Upon graduation from law school, Justice Zinter practiced law as an assistant attorney general for the state of South Dakota. From 1978 to 1986 he was engaged in the private practice of law in Pierre. Justice Zinter also served as the Hughes County states attorney. He was appointed as a circuit judge in 1987 and served in that capacity until 1997. In 1997 he was appointed presiding judge of the sixth judicial circuit and served in that capacity until his appointment to the Supreme Court. Justice Zinter is a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar Association, the Harry S. Truman Foundation, and the South Dakota Corrections Commission. He is also a trustee of the South Dakota Retirement System and former president of the South Dakota Judges Association. He has been a member of a number of other boards and commissions.

Justice Judith Meierhenry was born Jan. 20, 1944. She received her B.S. degree in 1966, her M.A. in 1968, and her J.D. in 1977 - all from The University of South Dakota. She practiced law in Vermillion from 1977 to 1978 and was appointed by Governor Janklow in 1979 to the State Economic Opportunity Office. She was then appointed as Secretary of Labor in 1980 and Secretary of Education and Cultural Affairs in 1983. She was a senior manager and assistant general counsel for Citibank South Dakota in Sioux Falls from 1985 to 1988. In 1988 she was appointed by the late Governor George S. Mickelson as a second circuit court judge and in 1997 was named presiding judge of the second judicial circuit. Justice Meierhenry was appointed to the Supreme Court by Governor Janklow in November 2002. She is the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court in South Dakota.

Bios courtesy of www.sdjudicial.com.
About The University of South Dakota
Founded in 1862, The University of South Dakota is designated as the only public liberal arts university in the state and is home to a comprehensive College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, the state's only School of Law, School of Medicine, the accredited Beacom School of Business and the College of Fine Arts. USD has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students taught by more than 400 faculty members. More information is available at www.usd.edu/press/news.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Doug Murano -- Marketing & University Relations
University of South Dakota
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