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Judge History

HISTORY OF THE JUDGES OF THE SECOND CIRCUIT
AFTER ADMISSION OF SOUTH DAKOTA TO THE FEDERAL UNION
BY
W. J. SRSTKA, JR.
(Updated 2016)

Minnehaha County Courthouse, 1925
Minnehaha County Courthouse,about 1925

1. Frank P. Aikens

The first circuit judge, in this circuit, was Frank R. Aikens elected in October, 1889, to the new 2nd Circuit Court consisting of Minnehaha, Lincoln, Lake, Moody and McCook Counties. (1889-1893)
Judge Aikens was an associate justice of the territorial supreme court, and after South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, became the sole circuit judge in the 2nd Circuit.
Judge Aikens was born in New York City, read law and commenced law practice in Rome, New York. In August, 1880, he moved to Sioux Falls, and then to Canton to practice law. He was active in politics before his judicial career that commenced upon his appointment to the territorial supreme court in March, 1889. Judge Aikens did not seek election to a second term as judge and returned to the private practice of law in Sioux Falls.

2. Joseph W. Jones (1893-1919)

Joseph W. Jones was the second judge for the 2nd Circuit. He was elected in 1893, and reelected in 1897, 1901, and after the elections were changed to even number years, in 1904, 1910 and 1914. Since the elections were partisan in those years, he had opposition in every election year except 1904. He did not run for election in 1918. By the election of 1910, Union County was part of the 2nd Circuit.

3. Lewis L. Fleeger (1917-1947)

In 1917 the circuit was changed by adding Turner County and expanded to two judges. Governor Peter Norbeck appointed Lewis L. Fleeger, as the third judge of the Second Circuit on July 1, 1917. Judge Fleeger was elected in 1918, and reelected each quadrennium until he did not run in 1946. George Rice succeeded him.

4. John T. Medin (1919-1959)

Judge Medin was elected in 1918 to succeed Judge Jones, who did not seek election, and he was reelected each quadrennium until he died in 1959, to be succeeded by Judge Dunn.

5. Asa Forrest (1923-1924)

The legislature added a third judge in 1923. Governor William H. McMaster appointed Asa Forrest who served briefly from 1923 to 1924, and Herbert B. Rudolph succeeded him.

6. Herbert B. Rudolph (1924-1929)

Governor William H. McMaster appointed Herbert B. Rudolph to become the sixth circuit judge in 1924. He was the youngest person appointed to the second circuit, being born in Canton, South Dakota, May 22, 1894, and he was the first native-born South Dakotan to become a judge. He received his primary and secondary education at Canton. He was elected in 1926, but resigned March 1, 1929, to resume practicing law. Raymond E. Dougherty succeeded him.
Judge Rudolph was appointed to the Supreme Court of South Dakota in 1931 and served until his death September 2, 1957. He was president of the State Bar, 1956-57, the year just preceding his death, and he served for many years as one of the commissioners on Uniform State Laws.

7. Raymond E. Dougherty (1929-1933)

Governor William J. Bulow appointed the seventh circuit judge, Raymond E. Dougherty, who, however, resigned to accept a federal appointment. Lucius J. Wall was appointed to succeed him.

8. Lucius J. Wall (1933-1951)

Governor Tom Berry appointed Lucius J. Wall to succeed Judge Dougherty. He was reelected each four years until he did not run in 1950. Roy D. Burns won the election to succeed him.
Judge Wall was born January 29, 1889, on a homestead near Bloomington, Illinois. He parents emigrated from County Kilkenny, Ireland. He graduated from College at St. Viator's College in Bourbonais, Illinois, and received his law degree from Illinois Wesleyan, Normal, Illinois.

Minnehaha Court House, 1963
Minnehaha County Courthouse dedicated 1963, now the County Administration Building

9. George A. Rice (1947-1967)

The ninth circuit judge, George A. Rice, was elected in 1946 to succeed L. L. Fleeger. Judge Rice was born in Flandreau, South Dakota, practiced law there and held several offices in Moody County as well as various state offices. Judge Rice was reelected every four years until he did not run in 1966. Andrew W. Bogue won the election to succeed him.

10. Roy D. Burns (1951-1973)

The tenth circuit judge, Roy D. Burns, was elected in 1950 to succeed Lucius J. Wall.
Judge Burns was born in Sioux Center, Iowa, practiced law in Sioux Falls and held several offices in Minnehaha County as well as representing it in the Legislature. Judge Burns was reelected every four years until he retired in 1973. Richard Braithwaite succeeded him.

11. Francis G. Dunn (1959-1973)

Governor Ralph Herseth appointed the eleventh circuit judge, Francis G. Dunn, following the death of Judge Medin. Judge Dunn served until 1973 when he was appointed to the Supreme Court of South Dakota. John L. Wilds succeeded him. Judge Dunn was born in Scenic, South Dakota, practiced law in Madison and Sioux Falls, and was municipal judge of Sioux Falls when appointed to the bench. Judge Dunn previously had served the federal government in several capacities.

12. Andrew W. Bogue (1967-1970)

The Second Circuit lost lake and McCook Counties in 1965 because of redistricting. In 1966 voters of the second circuit elected the twelfth circuit judge, Andrew W. Bogue, in 1966, to succeed Judge Rice. Judge Bogue resigned in 1970 as he was appointed to the federal bench, and Judge Christensen succeeded him.

13. Wayne W. Christensen (1970-1981)

The thirteenth circuit judge, Wayne W. Christensen, was appointed by Governor Frank Farrar and served until Governor William J. Janklow appointed him to the First Circuit bench in 1981. Gene Paul Kean succeeded him.

14. Richard Braithwaite (1973-1980)

Governor Richard F. Kneip appointed the fourteenth circuit judge, Richard Braithwaite, to succeed Judge Burns, in 1973. Judge Braithwaite resigned in 1980. Richard D. Hurd succeeded him.

Current Minnehaha Courthouse
Current Minnehaha County Courthouse, dedicated 1996

15. John L. Wilds (1973-1979)

Governor Richard F. Kneip appointed the fifteenth circuit judge, John L. Wilds, to succeed Judge Dunn, in 1973, and Judge Wilds served until he resigned in 1979. Robert C. Heege succeeded him

16, 17. (tie) Robert J Patterson (1975-1987) and William H. Heuermann (1975-1988)

Court reform brought many changes to the 2nd circuit. The circuit was reduced to Minnehaha County, Lincoln and Turner Counties, the number of judges increased to five, and judicial terms increased to eight years. 1974 was the first election under the reformed system, and that election seated the sixteenth and seventeenth judges, William H. Heuermann and Robert J. Patterson. Both served until they retired, Judge Patterson in 1987 and Judge Heuermann in 1988.

18. Robert C. Heege (1979-1993)

Governor William J. Janklow appointed Robert C. Heege to become the eighteenth circuit judge in 1979, succeeding Judge Wilds. Judge Heege retired in 1993. Glen A. Severson succeeded him.

19. Richard D. Hurd (1980-1995)

Governor William J. Janklow appointed Richard D. Hurd to become the nineteenth circuit judge in 1980, succeeding Judge Braithwaite. Judge Hurd served until his death May 1, 1995. Peter H. Lieberman succeeded him.

20. Gene Paul Kean (1981-2006)

Governor William J. Janklow appointed Gene Paul Kean to become the twentieth circuit judge succeeding Judge Christensen on December 21, 1981. Judge Kean retired on December 31, 2006, and Patricia C. Reipel was elected to succeed him in the 2006 election.

21. Robert A. Amundson (1987-1991)

Governor George S. Mickelson appointed Robert A. Amundson to become the twenty-first circuit judge in 1987 succeeding Judge Patterson. Judge Amundson served until 1991 when he was appointed to the Supreme Court of South Dakota. William J. Srstka, Jr. succeeded him.

atrium of the Minnehaha County Courthouse
"South Dakota Elements" by John Henry Peters, Sioux Falls Artist, in the atrium of the Minnehaha County Courthouse, 1996. Photo taken looking up four-stories from the atrium floor.

22. Judith K. Meierhenry (1988 to 2002)

Governor George S. Mickelson appointed Judith Meierhenry to become the twenty-second circuit judge on December 16, 1988, succeeding Judge Heuermann. Governor William J. Janklow appointed Judge Meierhenry to the South Dakota Supreme Court in 2002 and Bradley G. Zell succeeded her.

23. William J. Srstka, Jr. (1991-2013)

Governor George S. Mickelson appointed William J. Srstka, Jr., to become the twenty-third circuit judge on July 19, 1991 succeeding Judge Amundson. Judge Srstka retired on January 8, 2013 and was succeeded by Judge Mark E. Salter.

24. Glen A. Severson (1993-2009)

Governor George S. Mickelson appointed Glen A. Severson to become the twenty-fourth circuit judge on February 1, 1993, succeeding Judge Heege. Judge Severson was appointed to the South Dakota Supreme Court by Governor M. Michael Rounds and took the oath of office as Supreme Court Justice on April 3, 2009. Governor Rounds appointed Attorney Robin Houwman to fill Justice Severson's former seat on the Circuit Court bench.

25. Peter H. Lieberman (1995-2015)

Governor William J. Janklow appointed Peter H. Lieberman to become the twenty-fifth circuit Judge on October 26, 1995, succeeding Judge Hurd. Judge Lieberman retired on January 5, 2015, and was succeeded by Circuit Court Judge John Ryan Pekas.

26. C. Joseph Neiles (1997-present)

Governor William J. Janklow appointed C. Joseph Neiles on August 11, 1997, to become the twenty-sixth circuit judge when the circuit was expanded to six judges. Judge Neiles is still serving.

27. Richard Bogue (2000-2001)

The 2000 Census brought geographical and personnel changes to the circuit. Lincoln County became part of the circuit and Judge Richard Bogue and Kathleen Caldwell transferred to the second circuit from the First circuit. The change occurred on July 1, 2000. Judge Bogue served until July 1, 2001, when he retired and was succeeded by Judge Tiede.

Lincoln County Courthouse 1902
Lincoln County Courthouse, Canton, circa 1902

28. Kathleen K. Caldwell (1993/2000-2013)

Governor George S. Mickelson appointed Kathleen K. Caldwell to the First Circuit Bench January 29, 1993. Following redistricting of the circuits, she became a judge of the Second Circuit Bench on July 1, 2000. Judge Caldwell served as presiding judge of the Second Circuit from April 2009 through her retirement in January, 2013. Judge Caldwell’s seat was filled by Susan M Sabers.

29. Stuart L. Tiede (2001-2015)

Governor William J. Janklow appointed Stuart Tiede to become the twenty-ninth circuit judge November 16, 2001, following the retirement of Judge Richard Bogue. Judge Tiede retired on January 5, 2015 and was succeeded by Circuit Court Judge Joni M. Clark Cutler.

30. Bradley G. Zell (2003-present)

Governor M. Michael Rounds appointed Bradley Zell to become the thirtieth circuit judge on August 22, 2003, to succeed Judge Meierhenry. Judge Zell is still serving.

31. Patricia C. Riepel (2007-2016)

Judge Kean retired and Patricia C. Riepel became the thirty first circuit judge after her election in the 2006 General Election. Judge Riepel assumed office on January 1, 2007. Judge Riepel retired from the Circuit Court bench on June 8, 2016; Governor Dennis Daugaard appointed then-magistrate Judge Natalie Damgaard to fill the vacancy.

32. Douglas E. Hoffman (2007-present)

The legislature authorized and funded a ninth circuit judge for the Second Circuit effective July 1, 2007. Governor Rounds appointed Douglas Hoffman as the thirty second circuit judge and he was sworn in on August 17, 2007.

33. Larry E. Long (2009-present)

The legislature authorized and funded a tenth circuit judge for the Second Circuit effective July 1, 2009. Governor M. Michael Rounds appointed long-time, former Attorney General Larry Long as the thirty third circuit judge. Judge Long was sworn in on September 4, 2009, and was then appointed as Presiding Judge in 2012 following the retirement of Presiding Judge Kathleen Caldwell.

34. Robin J. Houwman (2009-present)

Governor M. Michael Rounds appointed former deputy United States Attorney Robin Houwman as the thirty fourth judge in the 2nd Circuit, to replace Glen Severson following Severson's appointment to the State Supreme Court. Judge Houwman was sworn in September 22, 2009 with a formal ceremony held on October 2, 2009.

35. Mark E. Salter (2013 to present)

Governor Dennis Daugaard appointed Mark E. Salter to the Second Circuit Bench succeeding William J. Srstka following Judge Srstka’s retirement. Judge Mark Salter took the bench on January 8, 2013 with a formal ceremony held January 11, 2013.

36. Susan M. Sabers (2013 to present)

Governor Dennis Daugaard appointed Susan M. Sabers to the Second Circuit Bench succeeding Judge Kathleen K. Caldwell following Judge Caldwell’s retirement. (Judge Susan Sabers’ father Richard W. Sabers also served as a South Dakota Supreme Court Justice from 1986 to 2008.) Judge Susan Sabers took the bench on January 8, 2013, with a formal ceremony held January 25, 2013.

37. Joni M. Clark Cutler (2015-present)

Joni M. Clark Cutler, initially appointed as a magistrate judge in July, 2013, won election as Circuit Court judge in the November 2014 general election, filling the vacant seat created by the retirement of Judge Stuart Tiede. Judge Cutler took her seat on the Circuit bench on January 6, 2015 and is currently serving.

38. John Ryan Pekas (2015-present)

John Ryan Pekas won election as a Circuit Court judge in the November 2014 general election, filling the vacant seat created by the retirement of Judge Peter Lieberman. A ceremonial swearing-in was held on January 5, 2015, Judge Pekas took his seat on the Circuit bench on January 6, 2015, and is currently serving.

39. Jon C. Sogn (2015-present)

In the 2015 Session the South Dakota Legislature created a new, eleventh Circuit judgeship in the Second Judicial Circuit. Governor Dennis Daugaard announced the appointment of attorney Jon C. Sogn to the new position in August, 2015. Judge Sogn took the oath of office and assumed his seat on the bench on November 22, 2015 at a ceremony in the Lincoln County Courthouse in Canton.

40. Natalie D. Damgaard (2016-present)

Governor Dennis Daugaard appointed Natalie D. Damgaard to the Circuit bench in July, 2016, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Patricia Riepel. Judge Damgaard had previously been serving as magistrate judge since January 2011, and took her oath to become the 40th Circuit Court judge in the Second Judicial Circuit on July 18, 2016.


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