Governor Kristi Noem (R) appointed Patricia DeVaney to the South Dakota Supreme Court on April 4, 2019. Noem selected DeVaney to succeed Justice Steven Zinter, who died on October 30, 2018. DeVaney was Noem’s first appointment to the five-member court.
Under South Dakota law, state supreme court justices are appointed by the governor from a list provided by the South Dakota Judicial Qualifications Commission. The South Dakota Judicial Qualifications Commission is composed of seven members—two circuit court judges elected by judicial conference, three attorneys appointed by a majority of the state bar, and two citizens appointed by the governor. The attorneys must not all be from the same political party. Likewise, the governor cannot appoint individuals to the commission from the same political party.
Newly appointed justices serve for at least three years, after which they must run in a yes-no retention election during a regularly scheduled general election. Subsequent terms last eight years.
DeVaney graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in 1990. She earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia. DeVaney worked as an assistant attorney general in the Attorney General’s Office from 1993 to 2012. Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) appointed DeVaney to the Sixth Judicial Circuit of South Dakota in 2012.