Chief Justice Gilbertson was elected to a 4-year term as Chief Justice by the members of the Supreme Court in September 2001, was re-elected to a second 4-year term as Chief Justice by the members of the Supreme Court in June 2005, a third 4-year term in June 2009 and a fourth 4-year term in June 2013. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in April 1995 to represent the Fifth Supreme Court District, which includes Brown, Butte, Campbell, Clark, Codington, Corson, Day, Deuel, Dewey, Edmunds, Faulk, Grant, Hamlin, Harding, Marshall, McPherson, Perkins, Potter, Roberts, Spink, Walworth and Ziebach counties, and was retained by the voters in the 1998, 2006 and 2014 general elections.
Chief Justice Gilbertson received his undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University in 1972 and his Juris Doctor from the University of South Dakota, School of Law in 1975. He engaged in private practice from 1975 until his appointment to the circuit court bench in 1986. He served as a Circuit Judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit from 1986 until his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1995.
He is past President of the South Dakota Judges Association and is President-Elect of the Conference of Chief Justices and will serve as its President for the 2015-16 term. He chairs its Committees on Tribal/State Relations and the Task Force on Politics and Judicial Selection. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Conference of Chief Justices from 2005-2007. He is the Chair-Elect of the National Center for State Courts and will serve as its Chair for the 2015-16 term.
In 2006, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the National Center for State Courts for his defense of judicial independence. He was the recipient of the “Grass Roots” Award by the American Bar Association in 2014 also for his defense of judicial independence. Since 2010 he has served as the state representative on the Criminal Rules Committee of the United States Courts.