All District Court Judges

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James H. O'Keefe

District Court Judge

Elected: 1971 - 1994

Born May 22, 1930, at Fargo, N.D. Graduate of Grand Forks Catholic Schools; Ph.B. and J.D. University of North Dakota 1956. Veteran Korean Conflict. Law Clerk for Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals; Editor, North Dakota Law Review; Walsh County State's Attorney; Municipal Judge at Grafton; Past President, State's Attorneys Association and District Judges. Elected District Judge in 1970. Reelected 1976, 1982, and 1988. Retired 1994. Surrogate Judge 1995-2002. Married to Leatrice. Six children. Died January 17, 2003.

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James M. Bekken

District Court Judge

Elected: 1995 - 2010

Born in 1948, Grand Forks, ND. Ph.B. in Social Studies and Mathematics, University of North Dakota 1970, and a J.D. with distinction, University of North Dakota School of Law 1977. Taught in Proctor, MN and Grand Forks, ND, 1970-74; Private law practice in New Rockford, ND, 1977-82. Elected 1982 County Court Judge for Benson, Eddy, Foster, and Wells Counties. Elected Judge of the Southeast Judicial District in 1994, 1998 and 2004. Member, North Dakota Judicial Conference and North Dakota Association of District Judges. Married: wife, Sandy. Three children: Scott, Aaron, Stephanie. Died May 3, 2010, at Rochester, Minn.

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James M. Hanley

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1915 - 1920

Judge Hanley was born in Winona, Minnesota, on January 6, 1877. He attended high school at Kasson, Minnesota and Carleton College. He was admitted to the Bar at the age of twenty-one, started his law practice in 1902 at Mandan, North Dakota. He was elected to the House of Representative in 1908 and 1911, he also served as Speaker of the House, and as States Attorney of Morton County 1909 and 1910. In 1915 he was appointed Judge of the Twelfth Judicial District, by Governor Louis B. Hanna, he served in that capacity until 1919, when the judicial districts were revised he became Judge of the Sixth Judicial District from 1919 until 1920. Judge Hanley died on January 31, 1947.

James S. Hill

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2014 - Present

Born Grand Forks, N.D. 1974 graduate of the University of North Dakota School of Law. Served five years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Bismarck. In private practice in Bismarck, 1981-2014. Served as representative of the State Bar Association to the American Bar Association House of Delegates and served on the ABA Board of Governors. Current Chair, ABA Commission on IOLTA. Appointed District Judge August 2014 by Gov. Jack Dalrymple. Elected 2016. Married to Charlotte, daughter Sarah.

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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.

Jason McCarthy

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2016 - Present

B.A, Criminal Justice, Minnesota State University Moorhead, 1995. J.D., University of North Dakota School of Law, 1999. Served in the Grand Forks County States Attorney's office for 13 years. Appointed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple Oct. 24, 2016, began service Dec. 1, 2016.

Jay A. Schmitz

District Court Judge

Elected: 2010 - Present

Born in 1962, Pierre, S.D. Raised on cattle ranch near Verona, N.D. Graduated Oakes H.S., 1980; B.A. in Political Science, Moorhead State University, 1985; J.D., Southwestern University School of Law, Los Angeles, 1989. In private practice, Los Angeles, from 1989-1995. In private practice, Oakes, from 2000-2002. Served as Stutsman County Chief Assistant State's Attorney, Jamestown, from 2003-2010. Member of the Southeast Judicial District Caseload Management Committee. Elected Southeast Judicial District Judge in 2010, 2016. Married: wife, Donna, two daughters and one son.

Jay Knudson

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2017 - Present

Grew up on a farm near Clifford, ND. Graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of North Dakota in 2001 and a law degree from the UND School of Law in 2004. In private practice in Grand Forks for six years after law school, then served as an attorney in the Indigent Defense Office in Grand Forks for four years.Served as a Judicial Referee/Magistrate Judge for the Northeast Central Judicial District 2015-2016 and then was in private practice until appointed NECJD Judge in 2017.

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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.

John A. Thelen

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2015 - Present

UND, B.S. Economics, 1978; UND School of Law, J.D., 1981. Private practice of law, 1981-2009. Judicial Referee and Magistrate, 2009-2015. Appointed district judge, 2015.

John C. Irby

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2002 - Present

Born July 1, 1956, Warroad, Minn. Graduate: Falls Senior High School, International Falls, Minn.; Moorhead State University, B.A.; University of Wyoming, J.D. Practiced law with Burgum and Irby, P.C., Casselton, N.D., 1982-2002. Legal intern for Legal Services for Southeastern Wyoming, Inc., 1980. Served as Casselton city prosecutor and assistant city attorney 1982-2002. Appointed District Judge in 2002 by Governor John Hoeven. Elected 2006, 2012. Married: Janice Irby. Two children: Joseph and Lindsey.

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John C. Lowe

District Court Judge

Elected: 1921 - 1942

Judge Lowe was born near Stella, Nebraska, on December 6, 1873. While a student at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, he served as a stenographer in the federal courts. In 1898 he went to New York, and attended night classes in the New York Law School and New York University while working in law offices. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1902. Practiced law for a time in New York, before coming to Minot, North Dakota in June, 1903. He was elected District Judge of the Fifth Judicial District in 1920 and served in that capacity until 1942. Judge Lowe died on May 4, 1950 at Donna, Texas.

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John C. McClintock, Jr.

District Court Judge

Elected: 1995 - 2017

Born in 1961, Rugby, N.D. Graduated with B.S.B.A. in accounting from UND in 1983 and J.D. in 1986. Worked for Price Waterhouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Started private practice in Rugby 1991. Assistant Pierce County State's Attorney 1993-94. Member of North Dakota Bar Association and American Bar Association. Admitted to Federal District Court. Elected district judge in 1994, reelected in 2000, 2006, 2012. Four sons. Retired April 2017.

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John C. Pollock

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1946 - 1958

Judge Pollock was born in Casselton, Dakota Territory, on December 29, 1888. Educated in the Casselton and Fargo, North Dakota, public schools. For professional reasons the family moved to Fargo in 1897, where he received his B.A. degree from the Fargo College, in 1909. He graduated from the Harvard Law School in 1912, then returned to Fargo where he entered in the practice of law with his father and brother in the Pollock & Pollock Firm. He became State's Attorney in 1927, serving two terms, was appointed Juvenile Commissioner, First Judicial District February 1, 1931, served until he was appointed Judge of the First Judicial District, by Governor Fred G. Aandahl, on October 23, 1946, served in that capacity until his death on August 9, 1958.

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John E. Greenwood

District Court Judge

Elected: 2003 - 2017

Born in 1949. Graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1971 and from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1975. Private practice in Jamestown, 1975-1993. Served as an assistant state's attorney for Stutsman County, 1977-1986. Appointed Stutsman County State's Attorney in May 1993; elected in 1994; reelected in 1998. Appointed Southeast Judicial District Judge by Governor Edward T. Schafer in 1999. Elected District Judge in 2002. Reelected 2006, 2012. Member, North Dakota Legal Counsel for Indigents Commission. Married: wife, Susan. Three children: Joseph, Karen, and Michael. Retired as district judge effective Aug. 1, 2017.

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John F. Cowan

District Court Judge

Elected: 1901 - 1912

Judge Cowan was born in Moffat, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, December 29, 1858. In 1862 the family emigrated to Ontario, Canada, where he attended the common schools of Canada, graduating from the Ottawa Normal School in 1877. After that he studied medicine in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario for two years. He came to the United States in 1880, locating in Port Huron, Michigan, where he was a clerk for the Chicago & Grand Trunk Railroad Company. In 1881 he came to North Dakota and settled near Stump Lake, in Nelson County, later he moved to Devils Lake, where he began reading law and later entered the law office of John McGee, of Devils Lake, he then became a member of the firm of McGee & Morgan. In 1885 he was admitted to practice before the Territorial District Court, he opened his own law office that same year, later he became associated with P. J. McClory, under the firm name of Cowan & McClory. In 1890 he was elected State's Attorney of Ramsey County serving until 1894, when he was elected Attorney General of North Dakota, he was re-elected to this position three times. He served as Judge of the Second Judicial District from 1901 until 1912, surviving an unsuccessful impeachment attempt in 1911 Judge Cowan died on November 25, 1917.

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John J. Kehoe

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1948 - 1954

Judge Kehoe was born in Castle Grove, Iowa, on November 5, 1871. He attended country school in Delaware County, Iowa, and St. Joseph's Academy and College at Dubuque. He received his law degree from the University of Iowa in 1897. He came to North Dakota in 1902, served as State's Attorney of Towner County for twenty-three years. He also was mayor of Cando, North Dakota and served two terms as State Senator from Towner County. In November, 1948 he was appointed Judge of the Second Judicial District by Governor Fred G. Aandahl, he served in that capacity until his resignation on May 12, 1954. Judge Kehoe died on December 10, 1956.

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John O. Garaas

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1978 - 1988

Judge Garaas was born in Wheelock, North Dakota, September 1, 1922. He attended St. Olaf College and University of North Dakota, graduating with B. A., L. L. B. and J. D. degrees. He was admitted to the Bar in 1949 and practiced at Watford City and Fargo, North Dakota. Served as State's Attorney of McKenzie and Cass Counties and United States Attorney for North Dakota. He served in the United States Army during WWII. In 1978, Governor Arthur A. Link appointed him Judge of the First Judicial District. With the reorganization of the district court system in 1979, he became Judge of the East Central Judicial District, he served in that capacity until 1988. Judge Garaas died on March 4, 1997.

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John Sad

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1951 - 1963

Judge Sad was born in Hardanger, Norway, July 24, 1887. He moved to Valley City, North Dakota, with his parents, and attended the Valley City public schools. He graduated from the University of North Dakota and was admitted to the North Dakota State Bar in 1915. He practiced law in Cooperstown, North Dakota, for thirteen years, and served as State's Attorney from Griggs County for six years. In 1927 he moved back to Valley City and became a partner of the Hanchett, Sproul & Sad Law Firm. He also served as State's Attorney of Barnes County for four years. In November 1951 he was appointed Judge of the First Judicial District, by Governor C. Norman Brunsdale, and served until his retirement in 1963. Judge Sad died July 20, 1969.

John W. Grinsteiner

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2015 - Present

Born in Bismarck, ND. Bachelor's Degree from the University of North Dakota and Bismarck State College. Law Degree from University of North Dakota School of Law, 1998. In private practice in Bismarck, 1998-2003. Judicial referee and magistrate for the South Central Judicial District, 2003-2015. Appointed district judge in 2015.