Pierre Capitol, South Dakota

The state of South Dakota has three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. The current governor is M. Michael Rounds. Currently, there are 35 members of the state Senate and 70 members of the House of Representatives. The state is composed of 35 legislative districts. Voters elect one senator and two representatives from each district. The legislature meets for a thirty-day session starting on the second Tuesday in January, and also if the governor calls a special session. The state Supreme Court is the highest court in South Dakota and the court of last resort for state appellate actions. The chief justice and four justices comprise the South Dakota Supreme Court. South Dakota is divided into seven judicial circuits. There are 39 circuit judges serving in the seven circuits. Circuit courts are the state’s trial courts of general jurisdiction. There are 12 full-time and three part-time magistrate judges in the seven circuits. Magistrate courts assist the circuit courts in disposing of misdemeanor criminal cases and minor civil actions. These courts of limited jurisdiction make the judicial system more accessible to the public by providing a means of direct court contact for the average citizen. South Dakota is represented at the federal level by Senator Tim Johnson, Senator John Thune, and Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.