An equal justice statue sits outside the doors of the Minnehaha County Courthouse in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)
The Second Circuit, serving Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, handles over one-third of the state’s court cases, according to Second Circuit Presiding Judge Robin Houwman.
The growth of the Sioux Falls metro area, adding nearly 50,000 residents to Minnehaha and over 40,000 to Lincoln since 2000, has led to a rising caseload — with Houwman expecting the circuit to top 60,000 cases this year.
The state Supreme Court added a new magistrate judge to the circuit Friday — making it the first new magistrate judge position added to the circuit in nearly 20 years.
The addition of the new magistrate judge will help meet the demands of the growing area, Houwman said in an emailed statement.
“In the first year of operation for the new courtroom in the expanded Minnehaha County Jail facility (2020), the magistrate judges conducted over 6,500 initial appearances on new arrests booked at the Minnehaha County Jail, held every single working day of the year,” Houwman said.
Attorney Jonathan Leddige was appointed as the new judge, bringing the number of full-time magistrate judges in the Second Circuit from four to five. Magistrate judges assist the circuit court in processing minor criminal cases, like speeding tickets, and less serious civil actions. There are 12 circuit judges in the circuit who handle major criminal and civil cases.
Leddige has been a public defender at the Minnehaha County Public Defender’s Office for nine years and spent a year teaching criminal defense at the University of South Dakota. Prior to that, he was a public defender for Hennepin County in Minnesota and practiced immigration law.
Originally from Reynolds, North Dakota, Leddige graduated with a degree in political science from the University of North Dakota. He graduated in 2011 from the North Dakota School of Law.
Leddige will take the bench on July 10.
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