South Dakota

State/Local Funding

  • The South Dakota Judiciary is primarily state funded.
  • The state pays for the appellate courts, the administrative office of the courts, technology, trial court operating expenses and the salaries of the trial court judges, trial court support staff, and clerical staff.  Courthouses and equipment are funded locally, as are program costs such as interpreter expenses, prosecution, expert witnesses, and court-appointed attorneys for the indigent.
  • Total state and federal grant appropriations for the South Dakota judicial system increased from $43.9 million in FY12 to $46 million in FY13.  The state general fund appropriation increased from $33.1 million to $33.7 million.  The percent of state general funds allocated to the Judiciary remained at 2.7%.
  • Since FY09, to enhance revenue, fees have increased 5%.
  • Over the past four years, technology funding has increased 33%.
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely to stay the same.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch submits its budget simultaneously to the Executive and Legislative Branches.  The Governor does make recommendations regarding the Court budget, but the Court has the opportunity to advocate for its original request.
  • The Judiciary has the authority to move funds between line items.
  • The budget enables the court to provide and enhance needed technology.  The Court Automation Fund was created by the Legislature in 1990 and various surcharges and fees are deposited into this fund to pay for all technology related expenses.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses: 

  • Over the past four years, the number of judges has increased 3%, the number of trial court staff has increased 2% and the number of central office staff has increased 2%.  Funding for trial court operation expenses have been reduced by 10%. 
  • This coming year, the number of judges will remain the same, while the number of trial court staff will increase by 2%, the number of central office staff will increase by 4% and funding for trial court operating expenses will increase by 7%. 

Service Reductions:  Over the past four years, the South Dakota courts have delayed filling vacancies in the clerks’ offices and in judicial support positions.  They have reduced the use of retired judges. 

Compensation:  Over the past four years, the courts have frozen the salaries of judicial officers and court staff.

Efficiency Measures:  The South Dakota courts are implementing an electronic document management system. 

Business Processes:  The courts have implemented an enhanced caseflow management program.  They will be implementing in-court updating of docket entries and sentencing orders and will begin remote videoconferencing of interpreters.

Centralization:  The courts have piloted a project to centralize traffic citation processing and will be piloting centralized collections processing.

The South Dakota courts are in a better position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice.  They are in the middle of a conversion to a new electronic case management system which will allow them to provide better access and timely justice. 

Reports and Articles

Gavel to Gavel

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