Unified Judicial System
500 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501-5070
Former Supreme Court Justice Richard W. Sabers
For Immediate Release
January 13, 2022
Former Supreme Court Justice Richard W. Sabers passed away on January 12, 2022. The Supreme Court and Unified Judicial System staff mourn the loss of such a fine person and jurist. The Supreme Court extends its sympathies to Justice Sabers’ family and friends and all those who knew him.
Justice Sabers served on the Supreme Court from 1986 to 2008 and was one of the longest serving justices in the Court’s history. He represented the Second Supreme Court District which included Minnehaha and portions of Lincoln County.
Justice Sabers was born in Salem on February 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 a statewide retention election three times, in 1990, 1998 and 2006. 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. He and his late wife Colleen have three children, Steven, Susan and Michael. In June 2000, he married Ellie Schmitz, who has three children, Jason, Joseph and Ann.
Justice Sabers left an impactful legacy on the UJS and the court system as a whole. Both current Chief Justice Steven R. Jensen and State Court Administrator Greg Sattizahn served as law clerks for Justice Sabers following graduation from law school. “Justice Sabers was regarded as an outstanding colleague to the Justices of the Court, a thoughtful and considerate jurist as well as a mentor and friend to all of us that were privileged to work with him over the years. He will truly be missed.” Chief Justice Steven R. Jensen.