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All District Court Judges

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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

Born in 1972. Graduate, Williston High School, 1991. Graduate, University of North Dakota, 1995. J.D. degree from University of North Dakota School of Law, 1999. Private legal practice in Williston, 1999-2006. Supervising attorney, North Dakota Commission on Legal Counsel for Indigents, Williston office, 2006-2010. Elected District Judge in 2010, 2016. Married: wife Lacey and four children.

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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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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

Born 1976. Graduate of Sawyer H.S. University of North Dakota, B.S., Social Work, 1999. University of North Dakota School of Law, J.D., 2004. Judicial Clerk, North Dakota Supreme Court, 2004-2005. Private legal practice, Fargo, 2005-2010. Private legal practice, Watford City, 2010-2013. Appointed District Judge in 2013, elected 2016.

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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.

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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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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

Graduate, Williston High School, 1999. Graduate, University of North Dakota, 2003. J.D. degree from University of North Dakota School of Law, 2006. Law Clerk to N.D. Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle, 2006-2007. Law Clerk to U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson, 2007-2009. In private legal practice, Williston, 2009-2013. Assistant State's Attorney for Williams County, 2013-2015. Appointed District Judge in 2015; elected 2018.

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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

Born in Aberdeen, S.D., in 1978. Minnesota State University Moorhead, B.A. in Criminal Justice and Psychology, 2000. University of North Dakota School of Law, J.D., 2003. Served as Law Clerk with the North Dakota Supreme Court, 2003-2004. In private legal practice, Fargo, 2004-2017. Appointed District Judge 2017.

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Bonnie L. Storbakken

District Court Judge

Elected: 2020 - Present

Born in 1972 in Grand Forks.  BS, UND, 1999. JD, UND School of Law, 2004.  Staff Attorney and Program Director, State Bar Association of ND, 2004 to 2005.  Private Practice, 2005 to 2013.  ND Department of Labor and Human Rights Commission, 2013 to 2014. Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Governor Jack Dalrymple, 2014 to 2016. Executive Secretary, ND Board of Medicine, 2017 to 2020.  Elected District Judge 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.