PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced Tuesday that he will appoint a longtime Elk Point judge as the 50th justice in the history of the South Dakota Supreme Court.
Daugaard picked Steven R. Jensen of Dakota Dunes to succeed Supreme Court Justice Lori Wilbur, who retired in June after six years on the court. Jensen is the Republican governor’s third Supreme Court appointee, after Wilbur and Justice Janine M. Kern.
Daugaard called Jensen, who has served 14 years on the bench and has sat several times as a temporary justice with the Supreme Court, a leader in South Dakota’s legal community and said he will be “an excellent justice.”
As presiding judge of the southeastern South Dakota circuit covering 14 counties, Jensen has championed new approaches such as drug and DUI courts and sobriety programs for offenders on probation, Daugaard said. Jensen also been called on “many times to contribute on important state issues,” such as reforming the juvenile justice system and implementing new technology in the court system, the governor said.
In a statement, Jensen said he was honored by the appointment.
“It is both a tremendous opportunity and responsibility. I look forward to further serving the people of South Dakota in this new role,” Jensen said.
Jensen, 54, is a native of Wakonda. He received his law degree from the University of South Dakota in 1988. He and his wife, Sue, have three children.
After law school, Jensen clerked for South Dakota Supreme Court Justice Richard W. Sabers, then had a private practice in Dakota Dunes and Sioux City, Iowa.
Then-Gov. Mike Rounds appointed Jensen as a circuit judge in the 1st Judicial District in 2003. He was re-elected without opposition in 2006 and 2014, and was named the circuit’s presiding judge in 2011.