I. Leaving the Nineteenth Century
. . .
K. Other Public Service
Each long-serving justice had a noteworthy career. But some served the public in ways besides direct service on the Court.
For one, Justice Christianson, while on the Court, played an important role in administering the national relief program in North Dakota during the Depression.
By the end of 1932 the counties and private charity could no longer carry the relief burden. In January, 1933, Governor Langer appointed a state emergency relief committee with Supreme Court Judge A.M. Christianson as chairman. The 1933 legislature appropriated no money for relief, but [Justice] Christianson's committee, working feverishly in the crisis, borrowed $492,000 from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and organized county relief committees to distribute the funds. On June 1, 1933, the committee began to receive its money from the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (F.E.R.A.), headed by Harry L. Hopkins.(129)
Justice Christianson "established a close personal relationship with President Roosevelt's highest confidant, Mr. Harry Hopkins [and] . . . [f]unds from the FERA were turned over to [Justice] Christianson to administer . . . to assist North Dakota farm families. . . ."(130) In late 1934, Justice Christianson's committee incorporated the North Dakota Rural Rehabilitation Corporation to extend credit to farmers and ranchers who could not get credit elsewhere, and the Corporation carried on other rural rehabilitation projects.(131) Justice Christianson served as president of this Rural Rehabilitation Corporation while on the Court from October 1934 until he passed away in February 1954.(132)
Luella Dunn became secretary, treasurer and a member of the board of directors of the Rural Rehabilitation Corporation while serving as Clerk of the Supreme Court and continues to hold this corporate position after retirement.(133) Another Supreme Court Justice, Obert Teigen (1959-1974), also served as a director of the Rural Rehabilitation Corporation while on the Court.(134) Justice Robert Vogel (1973-1978) became a director shortly after he retired and currently continues in that capacity.(135)
Justice Christianson's welfare work and his Rural Rehabilitation Corporation were unique in the Court's history.(136)
129. Robinson, supra note 9, at 406.
130. G. Leonard Dalsted, History of the North Dakota Rural Rehabilitation Corporation 2 (July 1996).
131. See id. at 3, 8.
132. See id. at 31.
133. See Lu Dunn To Retire, supra note 126, at 24.
134. See Dalsted, supra note 130, at 36. Justice Teigen was appointed in January 1959 to replace Justice Gudmundur Grimson, who resigned. See Sketch, supra note 2, at 52. Justice Teigen had been a Devils Lake practitioner, F.B.I. agent, states attorney, and a district judge for five years. See Sketch, supra note 2, at 52.
135. See Dalsted, supra note 130, at 37.
136. Query whether, today, this kind of extra-judicial public service might provoke questions of proper judicial conduct and separation of powers. Compare today's standards. See North Dakota Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 4(c)(2) (2000); Judicial Conduct Comm'n v. Grenz, 534 N.W.2d 816 (N.D. 1995) (censuring former trial judge for uncompensated membership on board of municipal airport authority and for legal services to it while holding judicial office).