Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, community members and high school students attended the three days of state Supreme Court cases for the September/October session on campus.
Left to right: Erica Gajda, political
science major from Cheyenne, Wyo.; Tom Wheaton, director of Alumni Affairs; Steve Meeker, vice president of University Advancement; Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson; and BHSU President Schallenkamp.
Black Hills State University and communities around the Black Hills had the privilege this month of witnessing their state Supreme Court in action with the justices holding their September/October session on campus. Nearly 400 BHSU faculty, staff, students and community members, including over a few hundred local high school students attended the three days of cases.

“The Supreme Court coming to BHSU is truly impressive and such an important aspect that the South Dakota Supreme Court goes across the state holding actual hearings,” said John Glover, professor of American Indian Studies at BHSU. “This gives South Dakota citizens, particularly students, the opportunity to see court in action.”

Glover, who has been at BHSU since 1992, said that this is the third time that the S.D. Supreme Court has come to BHSU. Aside from the Supreme Court’s scheduled hearings, this year’s visit also included an open forum with Chief Justice David Gilbertson where he discussed a new state program to recruit attorneys to rural communities, and a private banquet with all five justices.

“Each time the Supreme Court has been to BHSU, we always have more attendees. We tried to advertise it a lot more this year and had a lot of people attending these events,” Glover said. “This is an extremely popular event; this year we had 200-300 faculty, staff, students, and community members along with another 100 high school students.”

The Supreme Court rotates its October term among the state’s university campuses and invites high schools and communities within 100 miles to attend the hearings. The court’s last visit to BHSU was in 2007.

Glover said few state Supreme Courts hold sessions outside of their chambers.

“It is unusual to see states do it, which is why we are so grateful that our Supreme Court does this,” Glover said.

Studying law is a profession that people think of going into at a younger age; it appeals to a lot of people even though they have never actually seen what judges and lawyers do, he said.

“Everyone was very pleased with the outcome, and so grateful that the South Dakota Supreme Court does these hearings around East and West River South Dakota,” Glover said. “Having the Supreme Court come to BHSU and opening it up for college students and high school students really opens up the door of opportunity for them. In this field of study you really don’t get a lot of exposure until you get to law school, so this is very neat that the South Dakota Supreme Court comes to our school and gives students a way to see hearings first hand.”