I was born in October, 1963, in Turtle Lake, North Dakota, the youngest of 3 children. My parents were school teachers. As my father’s career advanced into school administration, my family moved from Turtle Lake to Carrington, and finally to Harvey where he served as superintendent of the school system until his retirement. Our family life revolved around school and church activities. A typical Sunday afternoon adventure was a drive to an historical monument somewhere in North Dakota. My parents taught me the value of hard work, the need for integrity, the virtue of education, and to strive to maintain a grateful and generous heart.
In 1981, only a few months after my high school graduation, I lost my mother to cancer. After staying home with my father for a year, I made my way to Concordia College. I graduated from Concordia College in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Hospital Administration, and a minor in Political Science.
Upon graduation I went to live in McLean, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. It was during that time that I decided to pursue a law degree and enrolled at the University of Baltimore School of Law, starting classes in the fall of 1987. I attended law school full time, graduating from UB in 1990. After successfully passing the bar exam, I was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1990.
Although there were many positives about living and practicing law in Baltimore, I longed to return to North Dakota. I applied for admission to the North Dakota bar, and was admitted in 1993. I have been a licensed attorney in North Dakota for 20 years.
1990, Juris Doctorate, University of Baltimore School of Law, Baltimore, MD
1986, Bachelor of Arts in Hospital Administration, Concordia College, Moorhead, MN
1981, High School Diploma, Harvey High School, Harvey, ND
2006-present Walsh County State’s Attorney, Grafton, ND. Unseated an incumbent in 2006; Re-elected in 2010, uncontested race. Responsible for all duties assigned by the North Dakota Century Code, including criminal prosecutions, juvenile court, involuntary commitments and civil actions involving Walsh County, in the District Court and on appeal. Oversee a full-time Assistant State’s Attorney and office staff. Handle media relations for the office. Confer regularly with other county officers and departments. Accessible to local law enforcement and social service employees for emergency consultation. Assumed additional duties in 2012 as Interim Pembina County State’s Attorney when the elected State’s Attorney was suspended from office by the Governor. Ongoing mentoring relationship with Pembina County State’s Attorney’s office.
1999-2005 Pembina County State’s Attorney, Cavalier, ND. Appointed in 1999; Elected in 2000, uncontested race; Re-elected in 2002, contested race. Responsible for all duties assigned by the North Dakota Century Code, including criminal prosecutions, juvenile court, involuntary commitments and civil actions involving Pembina County, in the District Court and on appeal. Conferred regularly with other county officers and departments. Accessible to local law enforcement and social service employees for emergency consultation. Extensive public speaking at schools and to community groups across North Dakota and Western Minnesota regarding the infiltration of methamphetamine into the region.
1994-1998 Partner, Tisdale & Whelan, Grafton, ND. Private practice focused on domestic relations, guardian ad litem services, wills and business transactions. Court-appointed to criminal defense and involuntary commitment proceedings in 1995 & 1996. Appointed Assistant Walsh County State’s Attorney on a part-time basis in 1997, responsible for all juvenile court and involuntary commitment proceedings on behalf of the State of North Dakota.
1993-1994 Associate Attorney, Rotering Law Office, Hettinger, ND. Managed an established solo practitioner’s law office while he moved overseas for a year. Handled a variety of issues, including wills, trusts, probate, deeds, title opinions and domestic relations. Appointed Assistant Adams County State’s Attorney, responsible for all statutory duties, mainly focused on criminal prosecution.
1990-1993 Associate Attorney, Snyder, Baron, Mehlman & Wais, Baltimore, MD. Gained invaluable experience working in a multi- attorney law firm that focused on medical malpractice and business tort litigation on behalf of plaintiffs. Analyzed and organized thousands of documents exchanged during discovery, took depositions of witnesses, and prepared witnesses and documents for trial. Appeared in various state and federal courts in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
1989-1990 Law Clerk, Snyder, Baron, Mehlman & Wais, Baltimore, MD.
1988 Law Clerk, Hooper, Kiefer & Cornell, Baltimore Maryland.
Member of the Walsh County Bar Association, NE Judicial District Bar Association, North Dakota State’s Attorney’s Association, and the State Bar Association of North Dakota
Served on the Board of Governors for the State Bar Association of North Dakota, 2010 to 2012
Recipient of the 2003 Community Service Award given by the State Bar Association of North Dakota
Served on the North Dakota Teen Challenge Board, a faith-based treatment center for persons addicted to alcohol and/or drugs
Served on the IPAT Board, a non-profit entity responsible for providing assistive technology services to disabled and elderly persons in order to allow them to remain in their homes
Served on the Tri-County Crisis Intervention Board, the local domestic violence agency and shelter
Served as a Moot Court judge at the UND Law School on numerous occasions
Volunteered at local inter-denominational Youth Center to organize, prepare and serve evening meals to at-risk middle school children as part of a weekly “Kids Club”
Member of “Vessel of Praise,” an inter-denominational musical group which performs at various charity events in northeastern North Dakota
Traveled to Cairo, Egypt, with medical missions team to serve in a medical clinic located in the garbage city
I married Douglas Whelan in 1994. Doug is a fourth generation farmer raising wheat, beans, sugar beets and red potatoes on our farm in Lodema Township, Pembina County. Doug is a graduate of North Dakota State University with a degree in soil science. He farms with his dad, his uncle and his brother on land that has been in his family for more than 130 years.
Doug and I are the proud parents of Grace, our 14 year old daughter adopted from China in 1999. She is active in school sports and music, church youth group, and proudly possesses a North Dakota Instructional Driving Permit. The majority of our family schedule is dictated by Grace’s interests.
Doug, Grace and I like to spend our family time traveling, cruising, going to the movies, and camping at Devils Lake. My personal hobbies include reading, baking and singing.
Strengths you would bring to the Court
Extensive civil and criminal courtroom experience, including jury trials, bench trials, motions hearings and master calendars, as a prosecutor and a defense attorney
Significant appellate court practice, involving preparation of briefs and oral arguments, both civil and criminal
Expertise in county government issues, including human resources, elections, commissions and boards, office management, budget process and open records
Significant private practice background in a large firm, as a solo practitioner, and as a partner in a small firm, covering issues involving medical malpractice, complex business tort litigation, domestic relations, criminal defense, real estate, wills and other transactional business
Personal resilience to withstand criticism in order to defend the rule of law
Established record of public service within the legal community, as well as involvement in community-minded events
Deeply held respect for the United States Constitution, the North Dakota Constitution, the separation of powers, the strength of North Dakota’s judicial system, and most importantly, the decency of the citizens of North Dakota