I. Leaving the Nineteenth Century
. . .
The Supreme Court has been favored with superior service from its personnel and members.
There have been only four clerks of the Supreme Court in over a century: Robert D. Hoskins (1889-1917); John Henry Newton (March 1917 to October 1968); Luella Dunn (October 1968 to July 1992); and Penny Miller (July 1992 to the present).(124) All except Luella Dunn were lawyers. Including his prior time from April 1, 1913 as a deputy clerk,(125) Newton served fifty-five years in the clerk's office; and including her time as a deputy from September 1947, Dunn served the Court nearly forty-five years.(126)
Five justices served on the Court for more than a quarter century each: Justice Adolph M. Christianson (1914-1954, thirty-nine years and one month); Justice James Morris (1935-1964, thirty years); Justice Ralph J. Erickstad (1963-1992, thirty years); Justice William Nuessle (1922-1950, twenty-eight years); and Justice Thomas J. Burke (1939-1966, twenty-seven years, three months).(127)
This continuity by justices and staff has contributed to the institutional stability of the Court and the judicial system, where continuity and stability are valuable assets.(128)
124. Records of the Clerk of the Supreme Court of North Dakota.
[Y]ours truly came to Bismarck in April 1913 to become deputy clerk under Mr. Hoskins and served as such until March, 1917, when upon the resignation of Mr. Hoskins I was appointed clerk and have served until the present time. The clerk serves during the pleasure of the Court and in some way or other I do not seem to have incurred their displeasure.
Newton, supra note 5, at 5-6.
126. Luella Dunn became a national leader in her field. She was a charter member of the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks, served on its Executive Committee (1973-74), and served as its president (1982-83). See Lu Dunn to Retire, Gavel (Journal of N.D. State. Bar Ass'n), April/May 1992, at 24. She was a member of the National Conference of Bar Examiners and served on its Executive Committee and as Treasurer in 1978. See id.
Penny Miller, Luella Dunn's successor, is similarly taking on a national leadership role with the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks, having been elected Vice-President in 1999, placing her in position to become its president in 2001.
127. See Sketch, supra note 2, at 6-10, 18.
128. Until 1968, when the first deputy was added to the Clerk's office, the staff of the Court mainly consisted of the Clerk and the secretaries for each of the five justices. See Figures compiled by North Dakota Supreme Court Administrator's Office (on file with North Dakota Supreme Court Administrator). Since then five more positions have been added in the Clerk's office. See id. In 1971, the Court Administrator's office began, and 15 positions have been added there. See id. Among the judicial secretaries and clerical staff for the Clerk and Administrator's office, there have been a number who served the Court continuously for many years. See id. Those remembered with 25 years or more of service include: Rosaleen Fortune began 1959 and retired 1990 as a judicial secretary; Evaleen Klaudt began 1965 and retired 1995 as a judicial secretary; Mary Lee, Administrator's staff, began 1972 and retired 1997, but still works part-time; and Mary Lou Splonskowski, Administrator's staff, began 1974 and still there in 1999. See id. Two others still working at the court have nearly 25 years of service: Marla Laxdal began in the Clerk's office in 1975, and Marcella Kramer began in the Library in 1976. See id. Elmer J. DeWald served as bailiff, librarian, and reporter from 1962 to April 1990. See id.