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All District Court Judges

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Kirk Smith

District Court Judge

Elected: 1977 - 2000

Born February 5, 1930, at Cogswell, ND. Served U.S. Navy, 1951-54. Ph.B. and J.D. degrees from University of North Dakota, 1956-57. Law Clerk for Charles J. Vogel, U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, 1957-58. Practiced law at Enderlin and Grand Forks, ND, 1958-63. Grand Forks County Judge, 1963-77. District Judge, 1977-2000. International speaker on legal issues for U.S. Information Agency, 1993. Retired as District Judge, December 31, 2000. Appointed Surrogate Judge, 2001. Married: wife Joan; three children.

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Stephannie N. Stiel

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2018 - Present

Judge Stiel was appointed as District Court Judge by Governor Doug Burgum in 2017 for the East Central Judicial District judgeship #9 located in Fargo, N.D.  

Born  in 1978 in Aberdeen, S.D.; Judge Stiel attended Minnesota State University Moorhead graduating with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice and Psychology in 2000. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 2003, and was admitted to the N.D. State Bar on October 6, 2003.   

Judge Stiel worked as a Law Clerk with the North Dakota Supreme Court from 2003-2004. She worked in private legal practice in Fargo from  2004 until her judgeship in 2017.

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Bonnie L. Storbakken

District Court Judge

Elected: 2020 - Present

Judge Bonnie Storbakken was elected in 2020 as District Court Judge for the South Central Judicial District judgeship #7 located in Mandan, N.D. 

Born in 1972; Judge Storbakken is a native of Grand Forks. She received her Bachelors of Science degree from the University of North Dakota in 1999.   Judge Storbakken received her Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 2004, and was admitted to the N.D. State Bar on September 27, 2004.   

Judge Storbakken was the Staff Attorney and Program Director at the  State Bar Association of North Dakota from 2004 to 2005.  She was in private legal practice from 2005 to 2013. She worked for the  North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights Commission from 2013 to 2014, and was Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Governor Jack Dalrymple from 2014 to 2016. Judge Storbakken was the Executive Secretary for the North Dakota Board of Medicine from 2017 until her judgeship in 2020.

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Lyle G. Stuart

District Court Judge

Elected: 1979 - 1984

Judge Stuart was born in Bucyrus, North Dakota, October 17, 1922. He graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1949, and was engaged in private practice at Hettinger, North Dakota until 1978 when he was elected Judge of the Sixth Judicial District. With the reorganization of the district court system in 1979, he became Judge of the Southwest Judicial District, he served in that capacity through 1984. He then returned to private practice at Hettinger, North Dakota, until his death on November 8, 1998.

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Michael G. Sturdevant

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2006 - 2015

Born March 1949 in Wahpeton, ND. Received his bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University in 1971 and his law degree from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1974. Admitted to practice in North Dakota in 1974. Engaged in private legal practice in Minot, ND, from 1974-2006. Appointed Northeast Judicial Disrict judge in 2006 by Governor John Hoeven. Elected 2008 and 2014. Retired September 1, 2015. Married with three children.

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Glenn K. Swanson

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1963 - 1970

Judge Swanson was born in Upham, North Dakota, February 2, 1922. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II, Swanson received his law degree from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1949, and was admitted to the North Dakota State Bar that same year. On June 4, 1963 William L. Guy appointed him Judge of the Second Judicial District and he served in that capacity until 1970. He died Nov. 13, 2014.

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Peter G. Swenson

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1927 - 1950

Judge Swenson was born in Trondheim, Norway on December 23, 1866. At age five he emigrated with his parents to the United States. He attended schools at Decorah, Iowa, and taught school in Iowa and North Dakota before he entered the University of Minnesota School of Law, where he received his Law Degree in 1892. He began practicing law at Hillsboro, North Dakota in 1893, where he also severed as State's Attorney of Traill County. Following the death of Judge Charles M. Cooley of Grand Forks, he was appointed Judge of the First Judicial District, by Governor A. G. Sorlie, on September 24, 1927. He served in that capacity until his retirement on October 1, 1950. Judge Swenson died on June 6, 1959.

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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.

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John A. Thelen

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2015 - Present

Judge Thelen was appointed as District Court Judge by Governor Jack Dalrymple in 2015 for the Northeast Central Judicial District #4 located in Grand Forks, ND.  He was elected in 2018. 

Born in 1952; Judge Thelen earned his Bachelors of Science in Economics from the University of North Dakota in 1978.  He received his Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1981, and was admitted to the N.D. Bar on October 5, 1981. 

He worked in private legal practice from 1981-2009.  He also worked as a Judicial Referee and Magistrate in the Northeast Central Judicial District from 2009-2015.

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George A. Thom

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1947 - 1962

Judge Thom was born in Correctionville, Iowa, December 30, 1883. After graduating from high school, he went on to the University of Iowa where he received his law degree in 1907. He was admitted to the Iowa State Bar, on June 12, 1907; North Dakota State Bar, December 7, 1907. He was in private practice in Denhoff and Goodrich, North Dakota, where he served as State's Attorney of Sheridan County. He moved to McClusky where he continued his practice until he was appointed Judge of the Fourth Judicial District by Governor Fred Aandahl on September 1, 1947, he served in that capacity until his retirement in 1962. Judge Thom died February 7, 1973.

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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.

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Harold P. Thomson

District Court Judge

Elected: 1947 - 1951

Judge Thomson was born near Hamilton, North Dakota, November 21,1889. He received his law degree from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1914. He served as State's Attorney of Pembina County for several years. He was elected Judge of the Second Judicial District in 1946, he served in that capacity until 1951. He was confined to bed for about a year before his death, he conducted judicial duties from the hospital and his home. Judge Thomson died in Winnipeg on May 13, 1951.

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Nicholas D. Thornton

District Court Judge

Elected: 2022 - Present

Judge Thornton was elected as District Court Judge in 2022 for the Southeast Judicial District judgeship #2 located in Valley City, ND.

Born in 1980; Judge Thornton is a native of Jamestown.  He graduated from Jamestown High School in 1998 and attended Minnesota State University in Moorhead, MN receiving his Bachelor of Administration in Criminal Justice in 2003.  He graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Law and received his Juris Doctor in 2006.  Judge Thornton was admitted to the N.D. Bar on September 25, 2006.

Judge Thornton served as a law clerk for Justice Carol Ronning Kapsner at the North Dakota Supreme Court from 2006-2007. He was in private legal practice at the Serkland Law Firm from 2007-2008; Assistant Public Defender at the Fargo Public Defender’s Office 2008-2013; and in private legal practice at the Fremstad Law Firm, 2013-2022. 

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Jerod E. Tufte

District Court Judge/Justice of the Supreme Court

Elected: 2017 - Present

Born in 1975 in Minot, N.D. J.D., Arizona State University College of Law 2002. B.S., Computer Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, 1997. Legal counsel to Gov. Jack Dalrymple, 2011-2014. JAG officer, N.D. Army National Guard, 2008-2016. In private legal practice in Steele, 2005-2011. Kidder County State's Attorney 2005-2011, Sheridan County State's Attorney, 2011. In private legal practice in Phoenix, Arizona, 2003-2005. Law clerk to Judge Roger Wollman, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 2002-2003. Appointed District Judge in July 2014. Elected Justice of the Supreme Court in 2016 taking office on January 1, 2017. Married, three children.

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Tristan J. Van de Streek

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2019 - Present

Judge Van de Streek was appointed as District Court Judge by Governor Doug Burgum in 2019 for the East Central Judicial District judgeship #2 located in Fargo, ND.

Born in 1976; Judge Van de Streek attended Minot State University acquiring a Bachelor of Administration in 2000.  He attended the University of North Dakota School of Law receiving his Juris Doctor in 2003.  He was admitted to the N.D. Bar on October 6, 2003.

Judge Van de Streek was in private legal practice in Minot from 2003-2007. He was  the Assistant State's Attorney in Cass County from 2007-2018. 

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Kristi Pettit Venhuizen

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2023 - Present

Judge Venhuizen was appointed as District Court Judge by Governor Doug Burgum in 2023 for the Northeast Central Judicial District judgeship #6 located in Grand Forks, ND.  

Born in 1973, Judge Vanhuizen grew up in Grand Forks.  She graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 1995.  She received her Juris Doctor from Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas, in 1998.  She was adminited to the N.D. Bar on September 30, 1998; the Kansas State Bar on April 30, 1999; and the Minnesota State Bar on February 10, 2000.

Judge Venhuizen was in private practice for 25 years.  She also served as the city prosecutor in Grand Forks and the Traffic Safety REsource Prosecutor for the State of North Dakota. 

Judge Venhuizen served on the SBAND Board of Governors from 2007-2013 and was elected SBAND President in 2011-2012.  She is also a past president of the Greater Grand Forks County Bar Association and a former chair of the Inquiry Committee Northeast.

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James Vukelic

District Court Judge

Elected: 1995 - 2000

Born in 1950, Mott, ND. Holds B.S. (Social Studies/Speech) and M.S. (Counseling and Guidance) from UND. Former school guidance counselor and teacher. JD from UND in 1978. Sole practitioner and state's attorney 1978-86. Former solicitor general and chief deputy, ND Attorney General's Office 1987-94. Elected district judge 1994. President, Big Muddy Bar Association 1995. Wife, Pam. Children: Reed and Meredith. Left office December 31, 2000.

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Wallace E. Warner

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1972 - 1975

Judge Warner was born in Edinburg, North Dakota, October 9, 1916. He graduated from Edinburg High School, he then attended the University of North Dakota, graduating from the law school. He also attended the American University, Washington, D.C., summer of 1935. Served as State's Attorney of Walsh County; Attorney General of North Dakota; first Chairman of the North Dakota Parole Board; North Dakota State Securities Commissioner; Richland County Judge, and Delegate to the 1971-1972 North Dakota Constitutional Convention. He was appointed Judge of the Third Judicial District by William L. Guy on April 19, 1972, and served in that capacity until 1975. Judge Warner died on February 25, 1994.

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Wade L. Webb

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2003 - Present

Judge Webb was appointed as District Court Judge by Governor John Hoeven in 2003 for the East Central Judicial District judgeship #7 located in Hillsboro, ND. He was elected in 2006, re-elected in 2008 and 2014. 

Born in 1970 in Grafton, ND. Judge Webb is a graduate of Oak Grove Lutheran High School located in Fargo, ND in 1988. He received his Bachelor of Administration from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN, in 1992; and received his Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1995.

Judge Webb served as a Minnesota District Court law clerk from 1995-1996. He was the Cass County Assistant State's Attorney, leading the Personal Crimes Team from 1996-2003.  

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Robert O. Wefald

District Court Judge

Elected: 1999 - 2010

Born in Excelsior, Minn. Graduate of Minot High School. B.A. from the University of North Dakota. J.D. from University of Michigan Law School. Navy officer during Vietnam War. Captain in Naval Reserve (retired). Law clerk to N.D. Supreme Court. Private practice in Bismarck, 1971-80, and 1985-98. Served as North Dakota Attorney General, 1981-84. Elected District Judge in 1998 and 2004. Married: wife, Susan. Three grown children: Sarah, Kathryn, and Tom.