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All District Court Judges

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Donald L. Jorgensen

District Court Judge

Elected: 1985 - 2014

Born in 1944, Kenmare, ND. Ph.B, University of North Dakota; J.D., University of North Dakota School of Law, 1970. Served in U. S. Army. Engaged in private practice in Dickinson for ten years. Served two years as county judge of Stark County. Elected Judge of the Southwest Judicial District in 1984, reelected 1990. Transferred to South Central Judicial District with chambers at Linton in 1995. Reelected in 1996, 2002 and 2008. Active as a member of the National Juvenile and Family Court Judges, served two terms as Chairman, Rural Courts Committee, National Juvenile Judges. Married: Wife, Caroleene. Three children; Damon, Heather, and Heidi. Retired July 3, 2014.

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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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Clemens F. Kelsch

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1962 - 1974

Judge Kelsch was born in Rosenthal-Odessa, Russia, November 4, 1890, and raised on a farm near Linton, North North. He graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1915, he then started his law practice at Mandan, North Dakota. He served four years as Mandan City Attorney, eight years as Morton County State's Attorney, four years as First Assistant Attorney General and four years as Special Assistant Attorney for the Public Service and Water Conservation Commission. After winning the 1962 election as Judge of the Sixth Judicial District, he was appointed Judge on December 1, 1962 by William L. Guy to fill the vacancy created by the death of Judge Asmundur, he served in that capacity until 1974. Judge Kelsch died on January 2, 1987.

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Jon R. Kerian

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1980 - 1992

Born in 1927, Grafton, N.D. Graduate of Central High School, Grand Forks; University of North Dakota, Ph.B. 1955, and L.L.B. 1957, J.D. 1969. U.S. Army in Korean Conflict, 1951-52. Practiced in Grand Forks, 1958-61. Assistant Attorney General with Highway Department, 1962-67. Practiced in Minot, 1968-1980. Appointed District Judge, 1980, by Governor Arthur A. Link. Elected, 1980 and 1986. Retired as District Judge, 1992. Appointed Surrogate Judge, 1992. President, N.D. State Bar Association, 1979-80. President, Western States Bar Conference, 1983. Member, Board of Governors, National Conference of State Trial Judges (ABA), 1983-89. Editor, State Trial Judges Newletter, 1988-93. Member, Board of Editors, The Judges Journal, 1988-93. Member, Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity. Married to Sylvia Ann; two children, John and Ann. Judge Kerian died June 28, 2008.

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Lester Ketterling

District Court Judge

Elected: 1995 - 2005

Born 1940 in Wishek, ND. Received LL.B. degree from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1964, and admitted to practice in North Dakota. General Law practice at Westhope, ND, from 1966-1987. County Judge 1987-94. Elected district judge in 1994, 1996, and 2002. Retired as district judge Dec. 31, 2005. Married: wife, Eunice. One son. He died March 6, 2010.

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Debbie G. Kleven

District Court Judge

Elected: 1995 - 2016

Born in 1958, Valley City, ND. B.S., University of North Dakota 1980. J.D. University of North Dakota 1983. Private practice in Grand Forks, ND, 1983-85. Assistant State's Attorney, Grand Forks County, 1985-1990. Elected Grand Forks County Judge 1990 and served in that capacity 1991-94. Elected District Judge in 1994, 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2014. Married: Husband, Paul. Two children. Resigned effective Aug. 8, 2016.

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William J. Kneeshaw

District Court Judge

Elected: 1901 - 1943

Judge Kneeshaw was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on May 5, 1854. He was educated at the high school affiliated with McGill College and also St. Andrews Academy. He came to Pembina, North Dakota in 1873 and was admitted to the bar in 1879. He served as State's Attorney of Pembina County for many years and also at various times as mayor of Pembina, county commissioner and county treasurer. He was elected Judge of the Seventh Judicial District in November 1900, serving until 1919 when the judicial districts were revised. He was Judge of the Second Judicial District from 1919 until his death on September 23, 1943. He served longer as a district judge than any other judge in state history.

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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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William S. Lauder

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1889 - 1904

Judge Lauder was born in Yates Center, New York, February 9, 1854. He came with his parents to a farm near River Falls, Wisconsin. He was educated in the schools of River Falls and attended the St. Croix Collegiate Institute at River Falls. He apprenticed himself to Wellington Van Etta, a Wisconsin lawyer and studied law. After completing his studies and having been admitted to the Bar, he moved to Wahpeton, North Dakota, where he practiced law. In 1884 he was elected Probate Judge of Richland County, after serving one term in that office, he became District Attorney, which office he held for four years. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1889, where the State Constitution was prepared, and arrangements were made for the separation of the Dakota Territory. Soon after the Constitutional Convention he was appointed Judge of the Fourth Judicial District by Governor John Miller, he served in that capacity until 1904. Judge Lauder died on May 17, 1931.

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Lawrence A. Leclerc

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1979 - 2004

Born in 1934, Fargo, N.D. Graduate: Shanley High School; U. S. Army 1953-56; BA and JD from University of North Dakota. Private practice 1966-79, Fargo. Appointed District Judge 1979 by Governor Arthur A. Link. Elected 1980, 1986, 1992, and 1998. Member: Joint Procedure Committee; Judicial Conduct Commission. Married: Wife, Kathryn. Four children. Retired as District Judge Dec. 31, 2004. Appointed Surrogate Judge, 2005. Judge Leclerc died in October 2015.

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Gary H. Lee

Presiding Judge

Elected: 2004 - Present

Born in 1955. BA and JD, University of North Dakota. Private practice 1982-2004, Minot. Assistant Attorney General, 1980-1982. Elected Northwest District Judge in 2004, 2010, 2016.

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Troy J. LeFevre

District Court Judge

Elected: 2016 - Present

Born and raised in Jamestown, ND. Graduate, Jamestown High School, 1992. B.A, Political Science, University of North Dakota, 1996. J.D., University of North Dakota School of Law, 2002. Private practice of law, 2002-2004. Law Clerk, Southeast Judicial District, 2004-2006. Chief Assistant State's Attorney, Stutsman County, 2006-2016. Elected District Judge 2016. Wife, Wenda, children Luke, Isabel and Grace.

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Kalita E. Leighton

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1911 - 1920

Judge Leighton was born in Putnam County, Missouri, on September 13, 1871. He was educated in the public schools at Allerton, Iowa; attended the Highland Park Normal College, Des Moines, Iowa for two years; graduated from the Law Department of the University of Iowa in 1896. In 1900 he moved to Minot, North Dakota, and formed a partnership in the practice of law with D. C. Greenleaf. In January, 1911, he was appointed Judge of the Eighth Judicial District, by Governor John Burke, he served in that capacity until 1919, when the judicial districts were revised he became Judge of the Fifth Judicial District from 1919 until 1920. He then returned to private practice at Minot, North Dakota, until his appointment as Assistant Attorney General of North Dakota, which position he held until his death on January 10, 1928.

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Frank T. Lembke

District Court Judge

Elected: 1919 - 1946

Judge Lembke was born in Naperville, Illinois, on August 9, 1870, raised in Albert Lea, Minnesota. He moved his family onto his homestead at Minot, North Dakota in 1903. He entered the University of North Dakota in 1910 and took a course in law, graduating in 1913, he was admitted to the North Dakota Bar that same year, he practiced law in Grand Forks, North Dakota 1913-1914. He moved to Glen Ullin, North Dakota, April, 1914; was appointed City Attorney on May 1914 and served in that office till he move to Elgin, North Dakota in November, 1917. He was elected State's Attorney of Grant County in 1918 and held that office till he was appointed Judge of the Sixth Judicial District by Governor Lynn J. Frazier on August 25, 1919. He served in that capacity until 1946. Judge Lembke died on May 21, 1951.

Stacy J. Louser

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2014 - Present

Born in 1973, Minot, ND. B.S., Occupational Therapy, University of North Dakota (1996); M.S., Management, Minot State University (2001); J.D., University of North Dakota School of Law (2007). Private practice in Minot, ND, 2007-2014. Appointed District Judge in 2014, elected 2016 and 2018. Married: Husband, Eric. Four children.

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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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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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Wilfred C. Lynch

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1960 - 1973

Judge Lynch was born in Turtle Lake, North Dakota on July 12, 1926. Graduated from the North Dakota University School of Law in 1949. He served as Special Assistant Attorney General, Adjutant General's office 1949-1951; Assistant Attorney General of the State of North Dakota 1951-1952. He was a partner in the law firm of Jansonius, Fleck, Smith, Lynch & Strutz of Bismarck, North Dakota, from 1952 until 1960, when he was appointed Judge of the Fourth Judicial District, by Governor John E. Davis. He served in that capacity until 1973. Judge Lynch now resides in Eugene, Oregon.

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Steven L. Marquart

District Court Judge

Elected: 2004 - Present

Born in 1954. Graduate: Moorhead High School; BA, Moorhead State University; JD, University of North Dakota School of Law. Private practice 1979-2004, Fargo. Law Clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Paul Benson. Elected District Judge 2004, 2010, 2016.

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Douglas L. Mattson

District Court Judge

Elected: 2002 - Present

Born in 1955, Minot, N.D. Served in North Dakota House of Representatives 1978-1982. Graduated from University of North Dakota School of Law and admitted to Bar in 1985. Worked for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Senator Mark Andrews in Washington, D.C., 1985-1986. In private practice in Minot 1987-1990. Ward County State's Attorney 1990-2002. Elected District Judge for Northwest Judicial District 2002, 2008 and 2014.