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January 04, 2013 09:58 PM

Longtime Circuit Judge Retiring

Sioux Falls, SD

A longtime South Dakota circuit judge is just days from retirement, even though he doesn't want to hang up his robes for good, just yet.

Bill Srstka has seen many changes in the two decades he's served as Second Circuit judge for Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties. Courthouse employees made an unusual fashion statement Friday in tribute to Srstka.

For one of the final times, court is in session. Srstka has heard cases as Second Circuit judge since 1991.

"There's been a lot of changes. Everything has been doubled. When I started, we had one county, now we have two. We had five circuit judges, now we have ten," Srstka said.

"I've seen a lot of judges and he does a very, very good job," Jury Manager Deb Beuckens said.

Some of the Second Circuit staff honored his honor by wearing cowboy boots. Srstka grew fond of western footwear while practicing law in Pierre.

"I have a pair of crocodile boots with eyes on them," Srstka said.

But on this day, Srstka was laying down the law in loafers.

"I'm trying to be main stream. I'm wearing loafers," Srstka said.

Srstka's distinguished career has covered a lot of legal ground.  Srstka worked as an attorney on the Rosebud Reservation with another young lawyer named Bill Janklow.  Srstka would like to finish out his term as circuit judge which ends in 2015.

Perry Groten: You don't want to retire?
Srstka: No, I really don't, but that's the law, so I have to.

South Dakota circuit judges are required to retire after their 70th birthday. So early next week, whether wearing loafers or his trademark boots, Srstka plans to step down from the bench in a low-key fashion.

"Just finish off my case, say a few last goodbyes and turn in my keys and leave," Srstka said.

Srstka sometimes hears from juvenile defendants who've stood before him in court.  Srstka says they hated him as a judge at the time.  But they later thank him for dealing with them fairly and giving them a chance to succeed as adults.

Srstka plans to spend much of his retirement travelling.
    
Mark Salter, of the U.S. Attorney's office in Sioux Falls, will replace Srstka as judge.

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