All District Court Judges

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Adam Gefreh

District Court Judge

Elected: 1963 - 1972

Judge Gefreh was born in Emmons County, North Dakota, December 31, 1918. Attended the rural Marie School District in Emmons County, where he received his elementary education. In 1938 he attended the spring and summer quarter at the Ellendale State Teachers College, after teaching rural school for two years, he attended the Northern State Teachers College of South Dakota, 1940-1941. After four years in the military he attended the Catholic University Law School in Washington, D.C., where he received his law degree in 1949, he was admitted to the Bar in the District of Columbia and North Dakota that same year, later he was admitted to the Bar in the state of Colorado. He practiced law in Linton, North Dakota. In 1951 he was elected as a legislator, serving six years in the House and four years in the Senate. In November 1962 he was elected Judge of the Third Judicial District, term to begin January 1963, he served in that capacity until his resignation in 1972, to become the first Administrative Law Judge for the Office of Hearings and Appeals for the Social Security Administration, in Fargo, North Dakota. After three years in Fargo, he moved to Colorado, where he continued to serve as Administrative Law Judge for the Social Security Administration, until his retirement in 1996. He died November 18, 2009 in Littleton, Colorado, at the age of 90.

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Albert C. Bakken

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1967 - 1987

Judge Bakken was born near Sharon, North Dakota on December 19, 1920. Attended rural elementary school, Sharon High School, Mayville State College, University of Wisconsin and University of North Dakota, L. L. B. 1948. Practiced law at Finley, North Dakota; State's Attorney of Steele County 1949-1951; counsel for North Dakota Tax Department 1953-1954; First Assistant Attorney General 1955-1956; practiced law at Cooperstown, North Dakota 1957-1967; State's Attorney of Griggs County 1959-1966. On August 1, 1967 Governor William L. Guy appointed him Judge of the First Judicial District. With the reorganization of the district court system in 1979, he became Judge of the Northeast Central Judicial District. He served in that capacity until 1987. Judge Bakken died January 20, 2009 in Woodburn, Oregon.

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Albert G. Porter

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1948 - 1963

Judge Porter was born in Willmar, Minnesota on July 13, 1889. Educated in the local public schools, received a L. L. B. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1913. Admitted to the Bar in the State of Washington in 1915 and commenced the practice of law in partnership with his father, Samuel Porter, at Republic, Washington. He returned to the State of Minnesota and for eighteen months he was employed in the Legal Department of the Soo Line Railroad in Minneapolis. In 1919 he moved to Edgeley, North Dakota, and engaged in private practice. He moved to LaMoure in 1938 and served several terms as State's Attorney of LaMoure County. In 1948 he was appointed Judge of the Third Judicial District by Governor Fred G. Aandahl, he resigned from the bench effective January, 1963. Judge Porter died on November 4, 1966.

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Albert Lundberg

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1951 - 1963

Judge Lundberg was born in Walsh County, near Fairdale, North Dakota, February 27, 1894. Educated in local schools, received his L. L. B. from the University of North Dakota in 1932, was admitted to the North Dakota Bar that same year. He engaged in private practice at Grafton, North Dakota, served as State's Attorney of Walsh County from 1936-1940. On June 18, 1951 he was appointed Judge of the Second Judicial District, by Governor C. Norman Brunsdale, he served in that capacity until his death on April 30, 1963.

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Albert T. Cole

District Court Judge

Elected: 1918 - 1932

Judge Cole was born in Avon, Wisconsin, October 8, 1858. In the spring of 1863, he moved with his parents to Minnesota where he received his grade school education. In 1884 he moved to Ellendale, North Dakota, where he engaged in the grain-buying business and began the study of law. In 1891 he was admitted to the Bar, by Judge Lauder of Wahpeton, North Dakota, and the following year was admitted to the Bar by the Supreme Court of North Dakota. He was a member of the first North Dakota Legislature from Dickey County, serving one term, he also served as State's Attorney of Dickey County. In 1917 he was elected Judge of the Third Judicial District, he served until 1919, when the judicial districts were revised he became Judge of the First Judicial District from 1919 until his death on May 12, 1932.

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Alfred A. Thompson

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1973 - 1976

Judge Thompson was born in Lisbon, North Dakota, September 25, 1918. He attended the Lisbon public schools, North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota Law School. Admitted to the North Dakota Bar in 1951, he then entered private practice in Bismarck North Dakota. He served as Assistant State's Attorney of Burleigh County for two years. On June 1, 1973 he was appointed Judge of the Fourth Judicial District by Governor Arthur Link. He served in that capacity until 1976. Judge Thompson died on May 26, 1994.

Anthony Swain Benson

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2015 - Present

Bachelor of University Studies, North Dakota State University, 1994. Juris Doctor, University of North Dakota School of Law, 2000. In private legal practice, Bottineau, 2000-2015. Assistant State's Attorney, Bottineau County, 2000-2015. Appointed Northeast Judicial District Judge in 2015.

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Arthur Jackson Gronna

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1933 - 1962

Judge Gronna was born in Lakota, North Dakota on July 19, 1897. Received his A. B. degree from the George Washington University, in 1921; L. L. B. degree from Harvard University, in 1925. He was admitted to the North Dakota State Bar in 1926, he practiced law at Williston, North Dakota. Served as Assistant State's Attorney from Williams County in 1927; State's Attorney 1928-1933. Elected Attorney General of North Dakota in 1932, resigned on November 1, 1933 to accept appointment as District Judge of the Fifth Judicial District, by Governor William Langer, he served in that capacity until 1962. Judge Gronna died January 19, 1965.

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Asmunder Benson

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1954 - 1960

Judge Benson was born in Akra, Dakota Territory, July 28, 1885. Moved to Upham, North Dakota as a young boy and graduated from Upham High School. He worked while attending the University of North Dakota, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1912, and his Law degree in 1915. Upon admission to the Bar, he moved to Bottineau, North Dakota, where he begin practicing law. He served on the City Council of Bottineau for ten years, and several terms as State's Attorney from Bottineau County. He was appointed Judge of the Second Judicial District, by Governor C. Norman Brunsdale on June 1, 1954, to succeed the Honorable Harold B. Nelson who had resigned. He served in that capacity until he resigned in late December, 1960. Judge Benson died on March 10, 1968.

Barbara L. Whelan

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2017 - Present

Born in 1963 in Turtle Lake, ND. BA, Hospital Administration, Concordia College, 1986; JD, University of Baltimore School of Law, 1990. Private practice in Maryland, 1990-93. Private practice in Hettinger, 1993-1994. Private practice in Grafton, 1994-1998. Pembina County State's Attorney, 1999-2005. Walsh County State's Attorney, 2006-2017. Appointed District Judge October 2017.

Benjamen J. Johnson

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2017 - Present

Born in Williston. Graduate, University of Mary, 2004. J.D. degree from University of North Dakota School of Law, 2008. In private legal practice, Tioga, 2008-2017. Northwest Judicial District public defense contractor 2012-2017. Former assistant state's attorney and state's attorney for Burke County and prosecutor for the Three Affiliated Tribes. Served as city attorney for Tioga, Ross, Wildrose, Flaxton, Portal and Bowbells. Appointed District Judge in 2017.

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Benny A. Graff

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1974 - 2004

Born in 1938, Hibbing, MN. Hibbing Junior College, A.S., 1958; University of North Dakota, B.S.Ch.E, 1961; J.D., University of North Dakota School of Law, 1964, with Order of the Coif; Editor, North Dakota Law Review. Admitted to the North Dakota Bar, 1964. Private practice in Mandan, ND, 1964-70. Corporate counsel for S.C. Johnson, Inc., Racine, Wisconsin, 1970-71; Assistant Counsel, U. S. Senate Subcommittee for Judicial Improvement, 1971; private practice in Carrington, ND, 1971-74. Appointed District Judge, February 1, 1974; elected 1974, 1980, 1986, 1992, and 1998. Presiding Judge from 1976 until his retirement. Chief Presiding Judge in 1987. Retired as District Judge, January 31, 2004. Appointed Surrogate Judge, 2004. Married: wife, Kay; two children.

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Bert L. Wilson

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1981 - 1991

Born May 22, 1921, at Flaxton, N.D. Graduate of Bowbells High School. Attended Valley City State College, Bismarck State College, University of North Dakota with General Business major; L.L.B. and J.D. University of North Dakota. Lt.j.g. U.S. Naval Reserve in World War II; served in both theaters of war; D-Day at Normandy, Rhineland; ended service in Okinawa. In general practice with father in Bowbells and practiced law in Burke County for 30 years. Burke County State's Attorney 1953-1978. County Judge of Increased Jurisdiction of Williams County 1979-1981. Appointed District Judge November 30, 1981, by Governor Allen I. Olson. Elected 1982 and 1988. Retired 1991. Served as a Surrogate Judge 1991-2000. Member, Lutheran Church, American Legion, Lions, Masons, Scottish Rite, Shrine, Eastern Star, State and National Bar, Judicature Society. Married Beatrice Aune in 1946. Five children: Nancy McCann, Shelley Kilgore, James, Tammy Post, and Thomas.

Bradley A. Cruff

District Court Judge

Elected: 2012 - Present

Born 1964 in Valley City, North Dakota and raised on the family farm and ranch at rural Rogers, North Dakota. He is a 1982 graduate of Barnes County North; a 1986 graduate of Valley City State College; and received his law degree from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1994. After graduation he became an associate at the Carol S. Nelson law firm of Valley City. He was elected and served as Valley City Municipal Judge from 1996-1998 at which time the Nelson and Lenaburg, Fitzner, Hooper firms merged and he served in the capacity of Assistant City Attorney for Valley City. He was elected Barnes County Commissioner in 1998 and served until 2002. In 2000 he became a partner in the firm of Lenaburg, Fitzner, Nelson, Hooper & Cruff. In 2005 he served briefly as City Attorney for Valley City before being appointed as the Barnes County State’s Attorney where he practiced as a prosecutor until he was elected to the bench in 2012 for the Southeast Judicial District, chambered in Wahpeton, North Dakota; term commencing January 1, 2013. He currently presides over the Richland County DUI Court.

Bruce A. Romanick

District Court Judge

Elected: 2000 - Present

Born in 1960, Washburn, N.D. B.S., University of North Dakota 1982. J.D., University of North Dakota 1986. Private practice in Washburn and Bismarck, N.D., 1986-88. Judge Advocate for the United States Army, Fort Carson, Colorado, and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1989-1992. Private practice in Moorhead, MN, 1992-1994. Assistant State's Attorney, Burleigh County, 1995-2000. Elected District Judge in 2000, reelected in 2006, 2012. Married: Wife, Roxane. Two children.

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Bruce E. Bohlman

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1987 - 2004

Born in 1939, Thompson, ND. Obtained B.S.B.A. and J.D. from University of North Dakota. Private practice and teaching 1969-1987. Appointed to the Northeast Central Judicial District bench in November 1987 by Governor George A. Sinner. Elected 1988, 1992, and 1998. Chaired the North Dakota Judicial Conference. Chairs the North Dakota Continuing Judicial Education Commission. Married: wife Eunice, two children. Retired as District Judge Dec. 31, 2004. Served as Surrogate Judge 2005-2013.

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Burt L. Riskedahl

District Court Judge

Elected: 1995 - 2006

Born in 1940, Bismarck, ND. Holds a B. A. Degree from Jamestown College 1962 and an M.S.W. from the University of Denver 1964. Received Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law 1973. Judge of the Burleigh County Court 1979-94. Elected district judge in 1994, 1996, and 2002. Retired as district judge March 31, 2006. Married: wife Margo. Two children.

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Charles A. Pollock

District Court Judge

Elected: 1897 - 1916

Judge Pollock was born in Elizabethtown, Essex County, New York, September 27, 1853. He attended Cornell College at Mt. Vernon, Iowa, from where he graduated in 1878 with a B. A. degree. In 1881 he graduated from the Law Department of the University of Iowa, he then opened a law office in Fargo, North Dakota. His Alma Mater conferred upon him the Master of Arts degree in 1881, and L. L. D. degree in 1908. He lectured in the Law Department of the University of North Dakota in 1900. In 1885 he was elected District Attorney of Cass County, then Dakota Territory, which position he occupied until 1889. He was president of the North Dakota Bar Association in 1921. He served as Judge of the Third Judicial District from 1897 until 1916. Judge Pollock died on July 9, 1928.

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Charles E. Wolfe

District Court Judge

Elected: 1923 - 1929

Judge Wolfe was born in Nicollet, Minnesota, November 13, 1859. He practiced law in the Territory of Dakota and North Dakota for forty-four years, and served many years as City Attorney of Wahpeton, and State's Attorney of Richland County. He served as Judge of the Third Judicial District from 1923 until his death on February 20, 1929.

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Charles F. Templeton

District Court Judge

Elected: 1889 - 1913

Judge Templeton was born in Washington County, Vermont, June 21, 1856. He attended Barre Academy at Barre, Vermont, and from there entered Dartmouth College in 1874, after graduating he was admitted to practice law in December, 1880. Shortly thereafter he came to the Territory of Dakota, formed a partnership to practice law with B. F. Spalding, who later became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. This partnership continued until July, 1887, when he was appointed Attorney General of the Dakota Territory, he resigned one year later, he then was appointed Judge of the Eighth Judicial District of the Dakota Territory by President Cleveland. In 1889 he was elected Judge of the First Judicial District and again in 1892, he served in that capacity until the end of 1896. He then resumed private practice at Grand Forks, North Dakota until 1907, when Governor Burke appointed him Judge of the First Judicial District, he served in that capacity until his death on January 3, 1913.