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USD Law Grad Retires from SD Supreme Court

VERMILLION, S.D. – South Dakota Supreme Court Justice Lori Wilbur, ‘74, ‘77, announced she will retire in June.

The 48th justice in the history of the South Dakota Supreme Court and the second female justice, Wilbur was appointed to the state’s highest court in 2011 by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. She graduated from USD with a bachelor’s degree in government and criminal justice studies in 1974 and earned her law degree from the USD School of Law in 1977.

Before serving on the South Dakota Supreme Court, Wilbur represented the Fourth Supreme Court District, which is comprised of Union, Clay, Yankton, Hutchinson, Hanson, Davison, Bon Homme, Douglas, Aurora, Brule, Charles Mix, Gregory, Tripp, Lyman, McCook and Turner counties and a portion of Lincoln County. She held every judicial position in the South Dakota court system. She served first as a part-time, and then a full-time magistrate judge from 1992 to 1999. She took the bench as a circuit judge in 1999 after being elected in 1998, and was re-elected in 2006. Wilbur led the Sixth Circuit as presiding judge since 2007, and she served as a replacement justice on about 20 state Supreme Court cases.

As a circuit judge, Wilbur led the Sixth Circuit’s DUI Court program, which is an alternative sentencing program that seeks to address defendants’ underlying addictions.

A Madison, S.D. native, she and her late husband, Brent, have two grown daughters.


USD’s Knudson 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 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson 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 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.