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All District Court Judges

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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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Harry E. Rittgers

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1953 - 1960

Judge Rittgers was born in Lone Pine, California, January 13, 1884. When he was three years old he moved with his parents to Emmetsburg, Iowa, and thereafter they moved to Glenwood, Minnesota, where he attended high school. He then attended the University of Minnesota for one year, after that he attended business college in Fargo, North Dakota. He graduated from the University of North Dakota Law School and was admitted to the North Dakota Bar, June 30, 1913. He practiced law in Medina, North Dakota, for three years before moving to Jamestown. He served as State's Attorney of Stutsman County for twelve years and City Attorney of Jamestown for eighteen years. On September 15, 1953 he was appointed Judge of the Fourth Judicial District by Governor C. Norman Brunsdale, to fill the unexpired term of Judge McFarland. He served in that capacity until 1960. Judge Rittgers died on December 26, 1971.

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Bruce A. Romanick

Presiding Judge

Elected: 2000 - Present

Judge Romanick was elected as District Court Judge in 2000 for the South Central Judicial District #3 located in Washburn, ND.  He was re-elected in 2006, 2012, and 2018.  

Born in 1960; Judge Romanick is a native of Washburn.  He received his Bachelor's of Science degree from the University of North Dakota in 1982. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota School of law in 1986, and was admitted to the N.D. Bar on September 25, 1986. 

Judge Romanick worked in private legal practice in Washburn and Bismarck from 1986 - 1988. He was a Judge Advocate for the United States Army, Fort Carson, Colorado, and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1989-1992.  He worked in  private legal practice in Moorhead, MN from 1992-1994, and was the Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney from 1995 until his judgeship in 2000.

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Lolita G. Romanick

Surrogate Judge

Appointed: 2014 - 2023

BS in Occupational Therapy, University of North Dakota, 1979; JD, University of Idaho School of Law, 1983; BA in French, University of North Dakota, 1995. Private practice in Grand Forks and Minot, ND, 1984 - 2014. Appointed Northeast Central Judicial District Judge in 2014; elected 2018. Retired as district judge in November 2023.

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Roderick Rose

District Court Judge

Elected: 1889 - 1896

Judge Rose was born in Smiths Falls, Canada, May 15, 1838. He moved with his parents to Woodstock, Canada, where he received his education. In 1858 he moved to Iowa where he was principal of the Montezuma and Davenport schools for twelve years. He was admitted to the bar at Davenport, Iowa in 1871; practiced law in Davenport; served three terms as mayor of that city before coming to Jamestown, North Dakota in 1882. He continued to practice law until 1888, when he was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Dakota by President Cleveland. After statehood he was elected Judge of the Fifth Judicial District, serving through 1896. In 1900 he was elected State's Attorney of Stutsman County and served in that capacity until his death on September 10, 1903.

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Cynthia A. Rothe-Seeger

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1988 - 2008

Born in 1948. B.A., M.A., University of North Dakota. J.D., University of North Dakota School of Law, 1975. Juvenile Supervisor 1975; Fargo Police Department Legal Advisor 1976; Cass County State's Attorney's Office 1976-81; Magistrate Cass County Court 1982; Cass County Court Judge 1983-88. Appointed District Judge 1988 by Governor George A. Sinner, she was the first woman to become a district judge in North Dakota. Elected District Judge in 1988, 1990, 1996, and 2002. Retired Dec. 31, 2008. Married: Husband, Mark Seeger. Two children.

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Gerald H. Rustad

District Court Judge

Elected: 1993 - 2010

Born in 1944 in Williston, North Dakota. B.A. degree from University of North Dakota. J.D. degree from University of North Dakota School of Law 1969. Editor of North Dakota Law Review 1968-69. Private practice 1969-92. Williams County State's Attorney 1979-82. City attorney for Williston 1988-92. Elected District Judge in 1992, 1998 and 2004. Retired 2010. Married: Wife, Dawn. Four children. Judge Rustad died Dec. 4, 2014.

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Joshua B. Rustad

District Court Judge

Elected: 2010 - Present

Judge Rustad was elected as District Court Judge in 2010 for the Northwest Judicial District #1 located in Williston, ND.  He was re-elected in 2016.  

Born in 1972; Judge Rustad is a native of Williston.  He graduated from Williston High School in 1991. Judge Rustad received his Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1999, and was admitted to the N.D. Bar on September 24, 1999.  He worked in private legal practice in Williston from 1999-2006. He was the supervising attorney with the North Dakota Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents, Williston office from 2006 until his judgeship in 2010. 

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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.

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Theodore Sandberg

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2024 - Present

Judge Sandberg was apponted as District Court Judge by Governor Doug Burgum in 2024 for the Northeast Central Judicial District judgeship #2 located in Grand Forks, ND. 

Born in 1969; Judge Sandberg served in the United States Navy Submarine Force after high school from 1988 to 1991.  He graduated from Wayne State University in 1994; and received his Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1997.  He was admitted to the N.D. State Bar on January 8, 2009.

Judge Sandberg served as a law clerk to Circuit Court Judge James A. Batzer in Western Michigan from 1997 to 1998; and as a law clerk to U.S. Magistrate Judge A. Harry Branson in Anchorage, Alaska from 1999 to 2001.  Judge Sandberg worked as a prosecuting attorney in Detroit, Michigan from 2001 to 2006; and worked in private legal practice from 2006 until his judgeship in 2024.  

Judge Sandberg was elected to the SBAND Board of Governors from 2016 to 2024, and was elected SBAND President from 2024 to 2025.  Judge Sandberg is also past-President of the Greater Grand Forks Bar Association and the North Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. 

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Otto E. Sauter

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1895 - 1900

Judge Sauter was born in Chicago, Illinois, September 16, 1859. He attended schools in the city of Chicago; read law in the office of Cleveland and Heaton of Osage, Iowa; admitted to the Iowa State Bar in 1881. He entered the senior class of the law department of the University of Michigan, graduating in 1882. Upon his graduation he came to Dakota Territory on June 1, 1882, settling in Grafton, North Dakota. He practiced law in Grafton until his appointment as Judge of the Seventh Judicial District by Governor Allin in 1895, served in that capacity until 1900. Soon after that he moved to Seattle, Washington, where he was admitted to the Bar of Washington, October 17, 1905. In 1938, having retired from the practice of law he moved to Redwood City, California, where he died on July 12, 1940.

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Winfield R. Schell

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1933 - 1942

Judge Schell was born in Norwalk, Wisconsin, November 11, 1898. He obtained some of his primary education in the Norwalk, Wisconsin, public schools and studied for two years in the La Crosse State Teacher's College. He attended the University of Montana and thereafter entered the law school of the University of North Dakota, graduating in 1928. Admitted to the North Dakota State Bar on July 13, 1928. He practiced law at Beach and New England, North Dakota from 1928 to 1932, and served as State's Attorney of Golden Valley County. In 1933 he was appointed Judge of the Sixth Judicial District by Governor William Langer, he served in that capacity until 1934. Judge Schell died on September 4, 1942.

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Robin A. Schmidt

Presiding Judge

Appointed: 2013 - Present

Judge Schmidt was appointed as District Court Judge by Governor Jack Dalrymple in 2013 for the Northwest Judicial District judgeship #4 located in Watford City, ND. She was elected in 2016.

Born in1976; Judge Schmidt graduated from Sawyer High School.  She attended the University of North Dakota, receiving a Bachelors of Science degree in Social work in 1999. She 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 Schmidt worked as a law clerk with the North Dakota Supreme Court from 2004-2005. She worked in private legal practice in Fargo, N.D. from  2005-2010. She also worked in private legal practice in Watford City from 2010 until her judgeship in 2013. 

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Jay A. Schmitz

District Court Judge

Elected: 2010 - Present

Judge Schmitz was elected in 2010 as District Court Judge for the Southeast Judicial District #6, located in Valley City, N.D. He was re-elected in 2010 and 2016.  

Born in 1962 in Pierre, S.D.; Judge Schmitz was raised on a cattle ranch near Verona, N.D. He graduated from Oakes High School in 1980. He received his Bachelors of Administration in Political Science from Moorhead State University in 1985.  He received his Juris Doctor from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, CA in 1989; and was admitted to the N.D. State Bar on May 1, 2000.

After graduation, Judge Schmitz worked in private legal practice in Los Angeles, CA from 1989-1995. After moving back to North Dakota, he worked in private legal practice in Oakes, N.D. from 2000-2002. He served as the Stutsman County Chief Assistant State's Attorney in Jamestown, N.D. from 2003-2010. 

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Dennis A. Schneider

District Court Judge

Elected: 1977 - 1998

Born September 23, 1939, in Bismarck, N.D. Educated in parochial schools. Graduated from North Dakota State University, 1961, B.S. degree. Military service, U.S. Air Force. Graduated from University of North Dakota School of Law, 1968, J.D. degree. Law Clerk, North Dakota Supreme Court 1968-69. Burleigh County State's Attorney's Office 1968-74. Private practice 1975-76. Burleigh County Judge 1977-79. District Court Judge 1979-1998. Retired at the end of 1998. Three children. Died May 7, 2000.

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Thomas J. Schneider

District Court Judge

Elected: 1986 - 2020

Born in 1950, Dickinson, ND. B.A. from the University of North Dakota 1972. J.D. from the University of North Dakota School of Law 1981. Private practice 1981-85. Mandan Municipal Judge 1982-86. Judicial Referee, South Central Judicial District 1982-86. County judge, Morton, Grant, and Sioux Counties 1986-94. Elected District Judge in 1994, 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2014. Married: wife, Rita. Three children, Carrie, Joseph, Amanda.

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Clifford Schneller

District Court Judge

Appointed: 1956 - 1972

Judge Schneller was born in Wahpeton, North Dakota on December 26, 1902. He attended Wahpeton public schools and the State School of Science for one year. He enrolled at the University of Southern California for the year of 1921, then returned to North Dakota, attending the University of North Dakota Law School, graduating in 1924. Thereafter he practiced law with his father, F. B. Schneller, at Wahpeton, until the death of his father in 1935. Served as State's Attorney of Richland County, North Dakota, 1933 to 1941; Wahpeton, City Attorney from 1948 until 1956, when he was appointed Judge of the Third Judicial District, by Governor C. Norman Brunsdale. He served in that capacity until his death on March 18, 1972.

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James T. Shockman

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2024 - Present

Judge Shockman was appointed as District Court Judge by Governor Doug Burgum in 2024 for the Southeast Judicial District, Judgeship #1, located in Jamestown, ND. 

Born in 1986; Judge Shockman was raised in Berlin, N.D., where he is still active on his family's farm.  He attended LaMoure High School, graduating in 2004.  He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and his Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, MN in 2011. He was admitted to the Arizona State Bar in 2011, and the N.D. State Bar on April 30, 2013.

Judge Shockman served as LaMoure State's Attorney from January 2019 to 2023.  Judge Shockman also had a solo private legal practice from 2015 until his judgeship in 2024.  Judge Shockman also worked as an attorney for Murnane Brandt in Bismarck, N.D. and practiced law in the area of securities litigation in Phoenix, AZ. 

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Mikal Simonson

District Court Judge

Elected: 1995 - 2010

Born in 1947, Portland, OR. Raised in Watford City, ND. B.S., Valley City State University; J.D., University of North Dakota School of Law. Engaged in civil practice/prosecutor for nine years. Served as Barnes County Judge from January 1986 until elected district judge in November 1994; reelected 1998 and 2004; defeated 2010. Activities include: Chair, Judicial Conduct Commission; Executive Committees, Judicial Conduct Commission; North Dakota Pattern Jury Instruction Commission; Barnes County Bar Association; Southeast Judicial District Bar Association; Rotary Club. Married: wife, Mary. Two sons, Nick and Ben.

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Kirsten M. Sjue

District Court Judge

Appointed: 2015 - Present

Judge Sjue was appointed as District Court Judge by Governor Jack Dalrymple in 2015 for the Northwest Judicial District judgeship #6 located in Williston N.D.  She was elected in 2018.

Born in 1981; Judge Sjue graduated from Williston High School in 1999.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Dakota in 2003.  She received her Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 2006, and was admitted to the N.D. State Bar on September 25, 2006.  

Judge Sjue worked as a Law Clerk at the North Dakota Supreme Court from 2006-2007. She was also a Law Clerk to U.S. District Judge,Ralph Erickson from 2007-2009.  Judge Sjue worked in private legal practice in Williston, N.D. from  2009-2013, and was the Assistant State's Attorney for Williams County from 2013 until her judgeship in 2015.