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Unified Judicial System: A Guide to Your South Dakota Unified Judicial System

NCJ Number
Date Published
11 pages
This booklet explains South Dakota's unified judicial system.
In January 1975 South Dakota's courts were reorganized into a unified judicial system by amendment to the State Constitution. There are now two basic levels, the South Dakota Supreme Court and the circuit courts. In addition, magistrate courts operate under the authority and supervision of the circuit courts. Unification brought together within circuit courts a number of functions formerly delegated to courts of other governmental bodies. These include juvenile, probate, and mental health matters formerly handled by the district county judges; less serious criminal matters formerly handled by the district county judges and justices of the peace; and municipal ordinance violations formerly handled by the municipal courts, justices of the peace, and police magistrates. In explaining this unified system, this booklet discusses the roles of juries and attorneys within the system, the processing of criminal cases, court services, civil actions, the appellate procedure, and related State Supreme Court activities.