The American Bar Association will honor South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David E. Gilbertson with its Grassroots Advocacy Award on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

The award honors Gilbertson for supporting the independence of the judiciary and expanding, in cooperation with the State Bar of South Dakota, access to justice in rural communities.

"Recognition is always appreciated. However, recognition of a partnership between the bench and bar of South Dakota, which have joined in the defense of, and improvement of, South Dakota's legal system is particularly appreciated," Gilbertson said in a news release.

Gilbertson's leadership on access to justice has protected South Dakota's fair and impartial courts and given many rural citizens a lifeline to the judiciary, James R. Silkenat, president of the American Bar Association, said.

Gilbertson was appointed to the circuit court bench in 1986, to the Supreme Court in 1995 and was first elected chief justice in 2001.

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