The courtroom of the North Dakota Supreme Court will be named the Ralph J. Erickstad Courtroom in honor of the man credited with creating a modern judicial system in North Dakota. The courtroom will be formally dedicated at a special session of the Supreme Court on July 12.
Ralph Erickstad served on the Supreme Court for 30 years, the last 20 as Chief Justice, retiring at the end of 1992. He was a leader in the unification of the state's trial courts. He led the development of the judicial wing of the State Capitol, completed in 1981.
Chief Justice Erickstad served as president of the Conference of Chief Justices, which made him the chief spokesperson for the State courts in the United States. He headed the National Center for State Courts, and after being appointed by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed by the United States Senate, he served on the board of directors of the State Justice Institute.
The Starkweather, N.D., native graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School. He served in the State Senate from 1957 through 1962.
Governor George Sinner presented Chief Justice Erickstad with the North Dakota National Leadership Award of Excellence in 1987. The State Bar Association presented him with its Distinguished Service Award in 1988. The National Center for State Courts presented him with its Distinguished Service Award in 1989.
Since retiring at the end of 1992, he has served as a Surrogate Judge.
He and his wife Lois have two children and five grandchildren.