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In a public announcement in June 2020, then-Supreme Court Justice David Gilbertson announced that Steven Jensen ’88 would succeed him as South Dakota’s highest court’s supreme justice—its 50th and the first new Chief Justice in 20 years.

After 30 years in law, Steven Jensen made the shift to serving as Chief Justice on the South Dakota Supreme Court in January 2021. Three years earlier, in November of 2017, Jensen’s wife and children stood by in support as he raised his right hand and took his oath in the courtroom of the University of South Dakota’s Knudson School of Law.

“The Supreme Court is only as good as those justices called to serve on it,” said David Gilbertson in 2017, at Jensen’s Supreme Court induction. “Today, we welcome onto the court one of the best, Steven Jensen.” By that time, Jensen had built an impressive resume that included service that helped reform and improve the state’s judicial system.

Although his career has reached great heights, Jensen’s roots run deep in rural South Dakota. 

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