You are here

Attorney Newsletter October 2020


October 9, 2020

New Full-Time Magistrate Judge Position: The Judicial Conference of the United Sates has approved
a third full-time United States Magistrate Judge for the District of South Dakota. The new
position will be stationed in Pierre and will serve the Central and Northern Divisions. The
successful candidate will serve for an eight-year term and may be appointed to successive terms.
Applications will be accepted through Friday, November 6, 2020. For more information about the
position and the selection process, see the Vacancy Notice for U.S. Magistrate Judge and
Application Form posted on the district court’s website.

Virtual Naturalization Ceremonies: The pandemic has caused some changes in how applicants complete
their journey towards U.S. citizenship. The U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota
and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had to get creative when two large
naturalization ceremonies scheduled at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls were canceled this
spring due to COVID-19.

The Court granted administrative authority to USCIS to administer the following Oath of Allegiance:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and
fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have
heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of
the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith
and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by
the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when
required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when
required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or
purpose of evasion; so help me God.

USCIS was able to administer the oath to everyone who was approved for citizenship—except those who
had also requested a name change. Only a federal judge has the authority to grant a name change.
This led to virtual naturalization ceremonies presided over by U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica L.
Duffy. Since March 2020, Judge Duffy has administered the Oath of Allegiance and granted the name
change requests of over 160 U.S. citizenship applicants during several small virtual ceremonies.
The Court will continue holding these virtual naturalization ceremonies until it is once again safe
to hold larger in-person ceremonies.

PACER ACCOUNT REMINDER: In the January 2020 Attorney Newsletter we discussed upgrading your legacy
PACER account. If you still haven’t upgraded your PACER account, now is the time to do so. We
anticipate transitioning to NextGen CM/ECF in 2021.
After the transition, you will not be able to electronically file documents in CM/ECF without an upgraded
PACER account. See attachment for instructions on how to upgrade your PACER account.

Friday, October 9, 2020