Belle Fourche attorney Mike Day said he plans to take office as a circuit judge in South Dakota’s Fourth Judicial Circuit early in July.
Day’s appointment was announced by Gov. Dennis Daugaard Friday morning. He will replace retiring Circuit Judge John Bastian.
The Fourth Circuit includes Butte, Corson, Dewey, Harding, Lawrence, Meade, Perkins and Ziebach counties.
A Winner native, Day, now 54, came to Belle Fourche in 1983 to join a law practice after his graduation from the University of South Dakota School of Law.
He has been active in the community, including service on the school board, Northern Hills United Way, Belle Fourche Area Community Foundation, Knights of Columbus and Butte County Teen Court. He is a past president of the South Dakota State Bar and state Trial Lawyers Association, and he has been a member of the state's Board of Minerals and Environment.
He and his wife Mary, a CPA and Belle Fourche High School business teacher, have three daughters, including one still at home.
Day currently is a partner with Bob Morris at Day Morris in Belle Fourche.
Day said that in his 30 years in Belle Fourche, he's practiced law in front of two judges in the Butte County Courthouse, Judge Robert Tschetter and Judge Bastian. "They both were absolutely terrific."
Judge Bastian will continue in office until Day starts at some time in July.
Day said Friday he wasn't sure what would happen to his law partnership with Morris. "I cannot practice law and I have to be totally separated from Bob. We haven't even talked about it."
The road to becoming a circuit judge is difficult.
Day said he applied for the position and underwent a background investigation. That was followed by an interview before the state's judicial qualifications commission. The commission then sends two or more names of attorneys they feel are qualified to the governor.
"Then it's up to the governor to choose," he said.
A Fourth Circuit judge may find himself presiding over cases anywhere in the circuit that includes most of Northwest South Dakota. That can mean miles of travel to courtrooms in the circuit's counties each year.
Day's law practice has changed through the years, he said.
He said for many years his practice was primarily litigation, then for the past five to eight years focused on real estate and commercial law.
"I still do a lot of litigation more as a general practitioner," he said.
"I read all the Supreme Court opinions every week when they come out," he said. "I've done that religiously since 1983,"
He said the biggest challenge he sees for a judge is "the need for patience, decisiveness, impartiality and independence."
Although he has been active in the state's bar associations, he said that part of his career will come to a close.
"A judge is always a judge, 24-7," he said.
Day's father, Bill Day, practiced law in Winner and Sioux Falls before moving to Spearfish.
His eldest daughter, Katie, is an auditor with KPMG, a major audit, tax and advisory services firm. Middle daughter Allie is a cosmetologist in Rapid City and the youngest, Liz, will be a senior at Belle Fourche High School next year.
Gov. Daugaard said in Day's announcement, "I was particularly impressed with the depth and breadth of Mike's service to his community."
"Mike has a deep commitment to service others, and I'm pleased that he is willing to continue that service as a circuit court judge," the governor said. "He is a well-respected attorney and will do a fine job."