Justice Richard Sabers
PIEERE -- Republican former South Dakota Attorney General Mark Barnett may be headed for a rapid rise up the state's judicial ranks. Barnett, most recently chief deputy attorney general, was recently appointed to the Sixth Judicial Circuit of South Dakota by Gov. Mike Rounds. Barnett lost a GOP gubernatorial primary bid to Rounds in 2002 after serving three terms as Attorney General. He has also served as Hughes County State's Attorney and in private practice. With Justice Richard Sabers approaching retirement age, the buzz around state captial Pierre is who will replace him in early 2009. Sabers, turns 70 - the mandatory retirement age - in February next year. And according to a recent David Kranz column at ArgusLeader.com, Pierre native Barnett's is the name most often bandied about as the state's next Supreme Court Justice in the state capital. Barnett served as state attorney general from 1991 to 2003. Rounds announced Barnett's appointment to the Sixth Circuit judiciary on June 7 and he ascended to the bench last Monday, June 18. In a written statement following the announcement, Barnett declared himself "very grateful to Governor Rounds for placing trust in me." Despite losing to Rounds five years ago, Barnett has remained loyal and may soon be rewarded. "Ever since the day Rounds was elected governor, talk was that Barnett would get the circuit court job and eventually the high court," Kranz observed. Sabers was appointed to the Supreme Court be former Gov. Bill Janklow in 1986. Since 2008 is an election year, the latest he can depart the bench is mid-January 2009.