Oral Histories from South Dakota’s Highest Bench
The University of South Dakota School of Law and the South Dakota Supreme Court have created a website that provides written histories and video-recorded oral accounts of the state’s highest court.
The site, http://nativeede.wix.com/judicialvoices, entitled “Judicial Voices Project: Capturing Histories of the South Dakota Supreme Court on its 125th Anniversary,” includes the most comprehensive research on the court ever done as well as a collections of video interviews with current justices, some retirees and others familiar with the Supreme Court.
The effort was the product of conversations between Chief Justice David Gilbertson, the court’s historian, and John Glover, recent Bush Foundation Fellow and long-standing professor at Black Hills State University, who was at the time associate dean of the University of South Dakota School of Law.
“Similar approaches have taken place with other courts, although such recorded oral histories are far less frequently occurring than one might expect,” Glover said. “As the Chief Justice pointed out, the most notable example of such interviews involved the U.S. Supreme Court in a project through C-SPAN. Additional examples can be found involving the courts in a half a dozen states including California, Kentucky, New York, New Hampshire, Texas and regional neighbor Minnesota.”
Judicial Voices was initiated by a seed grant awarded by the South Dakota Humanities Council in the spring of 2014. Additional support and funding came from the USD School of Law and Dean Tom Geu, the Unified Judicial System, the South Dakota Bar Association and the Woods, Fuller, Schultz & Smith law firm in Sioux Falls. South Dakota Public Broadcasting provided technical assistance. The project team was managed by Native Educational Endeavors Inc., directed by Glover and included Chief Justice Gilbertson, Dean Geu, Richard Gregerson, Web specialists Beth Aaker and Annie Woodle, editors Prairey Walkling and recent USD law graduate and attorney Kelsea Kenzy Sutton, and videographer Shane Artz.
Questions, comments and additions can be sent to Glover at email@example.com or (605) 580-0941 (605) 580-0941.
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