Lawrence Piersol

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Lawrence Piersol
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Court Information:
United States District Court for the District of South Dakota
Title:   Senior Judge
Position:   Seat #3
Appointed by:   Pres. Bill Clinton
Active:   11/22/1993-7/31/2009
Chief:   1999-2005
Senior:   7/31/2009-Present
Preceded by:   Donald Porter
Succeeded by:   Jeffrey Viken
Past post:   Attorney in private practice
Past term:   1968-1993
Personal History
Born:   1940
Hometown:   Vermillion, SD
Undergraduate:   University of South Dakota, 1962
Law School:   University of South Dakota School of Law, 1965
Military service:   U.S. Army

Lawrence L. Piersol is an Article III federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota. He joined the court in 1993 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. Piersol assumed senior status on June 30, 2009.[1]

Early life and education

Piersol graduated from the University of South Dakota with both his bachelor's degree and J.D. in 1962 and 1965.[1]

Military service

From 1965 until 1968, Piersol served in the Army Judge Advocate General corps.[1]

Professional career

Piersol spent his pre-judicial legal career in private practice from 1968 through 1993.[1]

Judicial career

District of South Dakota

On the recommendation of Senator Tom Daschle, Piersol was nominated by President Bill Clinton on August 6, 1993, to a seat vacated by Donald Porter. Piersol was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 20, 1993, and received commission on November 22, 1993. Piersol served as the chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota from 1999 through 2005.[1]

Notable cases

Libertarian Party candidate off the ballot (2014)

South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant refused to place on the ballot a Libertarian Party’s nominee for Public Utilities Commissioner in the 2014 election. Ryan Gaddy, the nominee, was not an official member of the party when its convention was held. State law requires all candidates to be members of the party that nominates them in order to be placed on the ballot. Gaddy sent in a change of party form the Monday following the convention. As a result, Secretary of State Gant refused to put Gaddy on the ballot, leading to a law suit in federal court.

Judge Lawrence Piersol agreed with the secretary of state that Gaddy had no right to be on the ballot because state law prohibited it. Further, he concluded that the state law requiring a candidate to be a member of the nominating party is constitutional. Candidates from the Republican, Democrat and Constitution parties were on the ballot for Public Utilities Commissioner.


Iowa man threatens federal judge (2009)

     United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa (United States, v. Robert Emil Swanson, 2009 WL 1052945)

Judge Piersol sentenced an Iowa man for threatening federal Judge Linda Reade of the Northern District of Iowa. The case was heard in South Dakota as judges in both the Northern District of Iowa and Southern District of Iowa recused themselves.[2]

Robert E. Swanson, who was convicted of threatening Judge Reade, faced a minimum of two years under federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors pushed for a harsher term because of his criminal record, which included convictions for a rape in 1974, a sexual assault in 1980 and an assault in 1986.[2]

Piersol commented that "Swanson's past crimes should be considered, even though they weren't included in the guidelines." Federal prosecutor Matthew Whitaker concurred with Piersol, saying, "because they were so long ago ... that skewed his history and made him seem less dangerous than he really was." Piersol sentenced Swanson to eight years in federal prison.[2]

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
Donald Porter
District of South Dakota
Seat #3
Succeeded by:
Jeffrey Viken