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Fitzgerald Makes Five for Fourth Circuit Judge

Make that five judges running for the seat Judge Kevin Krull is leaving open in the Fourth Circuit Court. Four candidates filed to run for that West River judgeship in July. The Black Hills Pioneer reports that a fifth candidate, longtime Lawrence County state’s attorney John Fitzgerald, threw his hat in the ring at the last minute in August:

According to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website listing candidates for the judgeship, Callahan’s petition was received on July 7, followed by Tomac on July 25, Natvig on July 27, Hogue on July 29 and Fitzgerald on Aug. 10.

Because the deadline was Aug. 9, the question arose as to was Fitzgerald’s petition received in time for him to be on the November ballot.

Suzanne R. Wetz, State Election Coordinator in the Secretary of State’s office, said the receipt date listed on the Secretary of State’s website for Fitzgerald’s petition denotes the date their office received the petitions in the mail.

For this race, state law directs that petitions be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office by the second Tuesday in August (Aug. 9 this year) or mailed by registered mail by that date and time.

“In this instance, our office received Mr. Fitzgerald’s petitions on August 10th, yet he complied with the statute as they were sent via registered mail on August 8th. As he met the guidelines set forth in statute, Mr. Fitzgerald will appear as a candidate on the General Election ballot,” Wetz said [Deb Holland, “Krull’s Withdrawal Opens up Five-Way Race for Judge,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2022.09.15].

The Fourth Circuit covers the northwest quadrant of South Dakota—Lawrence, Meade, Ziebach, Dewey, Corson, Perkins, Harding, and Butte counties. Two of the candidates—Fitzgerald and Magistrate Judge Chad R. Callahan—live and practice law in the Fourth Circuit. Two more—Jennifer Tomac and Tina M. Hogue—practice law in Rapid City. And one—former Brule County state’s attorney David Natvig—is carpetbagging his way around the Northern Hills and the high plains, hoping to parlay his reputation as Jason Ravnsborg’s underqualified, disgraced, and fired crony into some sort of ideological appeal to West River Trumpists. Fitzgerald and his West River neighbor candidates may want to have a conversation about working together so they don’t split the sensible local vote and leave Natvig with a path to victory among a unified wingnut plurality.


  1. grudznick 2022-09-19 07:57

    Why must Mr. Natvig be such a nutwing? Just stop it, Mr. Navig. You should be drubbed for even having worked for Mr. Ravnsborg.

  2. John 2022-09-19 09:42

    Magistrate Judge Chad R. Callahan is the only reasonable choice.

    Hopefully, the vote splits between Natvig and Fitzgerald and the unknown Rapid City opportunists are minimized. Selecting Fitzgerald would be unfortunate for he’s within 5ish years of mandatory judicial retirement.

  3. Bob Newland 2022-09-19 10:17

    Selecting Fitzgerald–at any age–would be (would have been) unfortunate, to use a euphemistic characterization. He’s a bag of hammers in a box of rocks. I’ve known him for 40 years.

  4. Dougy 2022-09-19 11:24

    Right, we need Callahan to seal cases when it involves important individuals, like Sen Cammack. If you are a nobody expect your case to NEVER be sealed. Remember the rich boy from Sioux Falls only protects his own.

  5. larry kurtz 2022-09-19 18:21

    No dog should die in this fight so exposing Lawrence County as a lousy employer should come as a shock to no one.

  6. grudznick 2022-09-19 18:41

    I imagine Mr. Fitzgerald, with his wifey guiding his gavel, would really do an inverted atomic drop on the weed dealers in the Northern Hills. He’d probably really get the several (we all know) all cramped in, and then let the more liberal happy tokers coast along huffing in the bars.

  7. John Dale 2022-09-19 19:17

    I have experience with Fitzgerald’s work. I found him to be dogged and effective. While I think Mary has the cannabis issue woefully wrong, I also understand that in politics it is about representation, not imposition, so I’ll give Mary the benefit of the doubt and continue to work to educate our community about cannabis. That said, let me be clear, Mary is not up for the Judgeship, and I trust them to respect the boundaries of their respective jobs while being realistic that they are in a lifelong partnership that transcends their occupation.

    If the election were to happen today, I would vote for Fitzgerald.

  8. Neal 2022-09-19 22:41

    Fitzgerald is running just to prevent Natvig from winning. Callahan is far and away the best for the job, the he’s not the political type.

  9. Dougy 2022-09-20 07:25

    Fitz is running because he wants to be a circuit court judge, just as his father was in Rapid. Fitz could have made a fortune in the private sector but chose the public servant route. He’s a skilled and talented trial lawyer. He’s kind of a legend in the Northern Hills. He’s worked hard no question about it.

  10. grudznick 2022-09-20 17:16

    Mr. Dale, as usual, makes very great sense. He is right, and grudznick should not assume young Ms. Fitzgerald would in any way affect how Mr. Fitzgerald wields his wooden hammer. And if Mr. Fitzgerald is in it just to stick it to Mr. Natvig, as suggested by some, then more power to him.

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