South Dakota Court Records

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This entry was originally written by Laura Hall Heuermann and Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, FUGA, FASG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the South Dakota Family History Research series.
History of South Dakota
South Dakota Vital Records
Census Records for South Dakota
Background Sources for South Dakota
South Dakota Maps
South Dakota Land Records
South Dakota Probate Records
South Dakota Court Records
South Dakota Tax Records
South Dakota Cemetery Records
South Dakota Church Records
South Dakota Military Records
South Dakota Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
South Dakota Archives, Libraries, and Societies
South Dakota Naturalizations
Native Americans of South Dakota
South Dakota County Resources
Map of South Dakota


The county court had original jurisdiction over all matters of probate, guardianship, and settlement of estate, as well as civil and criminal jurisdiction as may be conferred by law. The circuit courts held some case files, judgments, and depositions related to civil and criminal actions, naturalization records, and juror lists. In November 1972, the state’s constitution covering the Judicial Department was amended to create a unified judicial system. All judges then became either circuit court judges or state supreme court judges. This eliminated former county or district courts. Many of the counties simply left their old files with the clerk of the courts in the county. However, the state archives in Pierre has notified all counties that they can transfer their old files to the archives. A few South Dakota counties have turned over some of their court records to the state archives, which also holds criminal dockets for Huron, Beadle County (1919–23); Jones County (1919–39); Mellette County (1912–57); and Minnehaha County (1890–96, 1923–73) with police dockets (1884–1909).

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