The Ralph J. Erickstad Courtroom was formally dedicated Wednesday, July 12, 2000, honoring the man who shaped North Dakota's judicial system while serving 30 years on the Supreme Court, 20 as Chief Justice.
Erickstad's distinguished legal career was recalled in the formal order of the Supreme Court naming the courtroom in his honor, and in remarks by H.F. "Sparky" Gierke, Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and former Justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court; Robert Miller, Chief Justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court; Rebecca S. Thiem, representing the State Bar Association, Luella Dunn, former Clerk of the Supreme Court, and Daniel L. Hovland, representing the law clerks who served the Court from 1965-1993.
Erickstad graciously accepted the designation, thanking family, friends, colleagues, and court staff.
A plaque outside the courtroom bears his name. The plaque, to be permanently mounted in the courtroom, states:
Ralph J. Erickstad Courtroom
Dedicated July 12, 2000
Ralph J. Erickstad, raised in Starkweather, North Dakota, served as a justice on the North Dakota Supreme Court from 1963 through 1992, and as chief justice from 1973 through 1992. He served in the North Dakota Senate from 1957 to 1962.
Chief Justice Erickstad was a leader in the unification of the state's trial courts and in the development of the judicial wing and the Supreme Court chambers of the State Capitol, which were completed in 1981. He was nationally recognized for his leadership with the Conference of Chief Justices and the National Center for State Courts. He served through appointment by President Ronald Reagan and confirmation of the United States Senate on the Board of Directors of the State Justice Institute.
Erickstad's son Mark also spoke at the dedication, telling his dad, "You've always been our hero."
Erickstad retired at the end of 1992, and has continued to serve as a surrogate judge.