I was born in 1963, the eighth of nine children of Lynus S. Ryan and Frances T. Ryan, nee Wilder. My father's career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers led the family to Langdon, ND, in the fall of 1970, when he served as the chief construction engineer at the missile site radar facilities at Nekoma. Dad, a veteran of WWII (glider pilot) and Korea, inspires in me a great sense of patriotism and gratitude for the sacrifices made by that great generation for the benefit of us that follow. I attended St. Alphonsus Elementary School, and graduated from Langdon High School in 1981. In high school, I was active in co-curricular activities including student council, music and cheerleading. I also worked at the Dairy Queen, at a sportswear store/tee shirt shop, and during the summers, on a land surveying crew.
In 1981, I enrolled at the University of North Dakota as an engineering major having been awarded the North Dakota High School Leadership Scholarship. During the summers of 1983, 1984, and 1985, I worked as an engineering intern at the Falkirk Mining Company, near Underwood, ND. I held progressing roles including on a survey crew, as a draftsman, and as a civil engineering assistant. I did a lot of number crunching as this was before desktop computers were the norm. In the fall of 1985, I switched college majors. In 1986, with a degree in mathematics and a teaching certificate in hand, I started a career in the field of education.
In December 1985, I married Jerome R. "Joe" Bailey, a 1979 graduate of Bismarck High School. Joe is also from a large family, mostly based in the Bismarck area. Joe was a teacher and coach in Grand Forks, and in the North Dakota Army National Guard. In January 1987, while I was teaching math at Red River and Central High, we welcomed our first child. In the fall of 1987, I returned to UND as a graduate student in counseling and guidance, and earned a Master of Arts degree in August 1988. Our young family moved to Dickinson where Joe taught at Trinity High School, and I worked as a school counselor in Billings County and at Belfield High School. Our second daughter was born September 1989, and we had a son in July 1992. In 1992, we moved back to Grand Forks where my husband taught and coached at Red River High School.
From 1992 through 1994, I cared for my three young children at home. In 1994, I started law school, again at UND. I had the privilege of sharing that experience with my younger brother, and we graduated with the class of 1997. I started my legal career in a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Rodney S. Webb, then Chief Judge of the United States District Court, District of North Dakota. My work with Judge Webb, 1997-1999, solidified my belief in and commitment to the ideals of the American justice system.
In June 1998, we welcomed our fourth child, another girl, to our busy family. After a short time in private practice in Grand Forks and Fargo, in 2001 I started an active litigation job as an Assistant State's Attorney for Cass County Social Services. During these years, I participated in many bench trials, hearings, and a few jury trials. My appellate work included appearances before the North Dakota Supreme Court, and briefing to the United States Supreme Court. While the work at Cass County Social Services was often times gritty, and sometimes emotionally draining, it was always rewarding.
In 2004, I was appointed as part-time West Fargo Municipal Judge. I strive to do right and be right, while conducting myself humbly, with respect and compassion for those appearing before me. Also in 2004, I was elected to the West Fargo School Board, on which I served through 2008. I have demonstrated the willingness and ability to make difficult and/or unpopular decisions in the public arena, and be subjected to appellate and public scrutiny. In 2006, I pursued an opportunity with the Office of Administrative Hearings to hone skills and gain experience as a full-time judge. In 2008, I ran for election for district judge in the East Central Judicial District. While I did not prevail, I do not feel that it was an unsuccessful endeavor. I met many wonderful people in the process of campaigning. It was exciting to participate in the democratic process.
As a judge for the past ten years, I have learned that the biggest challenges for judges relate not so much to the legal questions, (although good academic, research, and writing skills are essential), but rather involve meeting individuals where they are on a human level, providing them an honest opportunity to be heard, and making tough decisions. I recognize that judges are under a lot of pressure to get things right, in short time, the first time, with grace. I often deal with individuals who are not represented by legal counsel. I have also had occasion to address complex matters involving multiple parties, including some with multiple attorneys per party. In all situations, I must delicately guide the adjudicative process while balancing the rights of the parties, and maintaining my role as an impartial judge and the decorum of the forum. I believe it very important to treat all persons appearing before me respectfully. I strive to meet the high standards for professional and personal conduct necessarily placed upon judges in a consistent manner. I work with determination to make decisions that are well-reasoned under the law, well-articulated, fair, and correct.
Today, my husband and I have been married almost 28 years, and we live in West Fargo. Joe is a high school science teacher, head girls’ and boys’ cross-country coach, and middle school track coach. Joe is also retired from the North Dakota National Guard having spent most of his military career as a flight medic based in Bismarck. Our oldest daughter Cailin, and her husband David Kawasaki, live in Fargo with their two young sons. I love being a grandmother! Our second daughter Madeline, and her husband Pat Revier, live in Moorhead, MN, where they have started, own and operate two businesses. Our son Kyle works and lives in West Fargo. Our youngest daughter, Grace, is a sophomore at West Fargo High School. We have two active yellow Labradors, and two mellow cats. My father, now 94, is retired and leads an active and independent life in the Black Hills near Custer, SD; my mother passed away in December 2009. My fellow lawyer brother lives in Jamestown, and another brother lives in Williston. My other six siblings are spread across the country in the states of Arizona, California, Wisconsin, Alabama, Colorado, and South Dakota. My hobbies include following my youngest child's activities, spending time with my grandsons, singing, sewing, quilting, and reading.
Adjudication of administrative law cases for various state agencies and boards including the Department of Human Services, Workforce Safety and Insurance, Department of Labor, and Insurance Department.
Adjudication of violations of city ordinances including infractions, non-criminal traffic offenses, and Class B misdemeanor crimes. Court held in West Fargo on routine basis, and as needed on rare occasion in the other municipalities.
Prosecution of child protection cases including abuse/neglect and termination of parental rights, guardianships for vulnerable adults, and the provision of general counsel to the agency. Extensive trial court and appellate court appearances including briefing to the United States Supreme Court. Also held designation as Special Assistant Attorney General for representation of the Department of Human Services in select matters.Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, Adjunct Instructor, September 2003 – May 2004, Instruct college level business law class offered through accounting department.
Research legal issues, write legal memoranda, monitor cases, and draft orders, including on motions for summary judgment, and jury instructions. Extensive work with rules of evidence, rules of civil and criminal procedure, and Federal sentencing guidelines.
Supreme Court Vacancy 2013 News
October 10, 2013