Born and raised in Noonan, North Dakota.
Awarded a Juris Doctor (JD) Magna Cum Laude from UND School of Law in 1958. Editor of North Dakota Law Review in senior year.
Served as an assistant attorney general from 1958 to 1975. Appointed first assistant attorney general in 1975. As an assistant attorney general, held portfolios for elementary, secondary, and higher education, oil and gas, and the state retirement system. Served as the North Dakota delegate to the Interstate Oil Compact Commission. Appointed to the Supreme Court in August 1978 and elected to serve the unexpired term in November 1978. Elected for a full 10-year term in 1984 and re-elected in 1994, 2004, and 2014. Elected Chief Justice in January 1993 by vote of the district court judges and Supreme Court justices. Re- elected as Chief Justice January 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015.
Memberships and Committees
Chaired North Dakota Judicial Conference, 1985 to 1987; President of the Conference of Chief Justices, 2000 to 2001; appointed by Chief Justice Rehnquist to the Federal/State Jurisdiction Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States; Chairperson of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association (ABA), 2000 to 2001; recipient of the University of North Dakota Sioux Award, 1992; recipient of the North Dakota State Bar Association Distinguished Service Award, June 1998; inducted into the Warren E. Burger Society, October 2002; recipient of the National Center for State Courts Paul C. Reardon Award, 2003; 2008 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Eighth Circuit; recipient of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar 2009 Robert J. Kutak Award; 42nd recipient of the North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, 2015; recipient of National Center for State Courts Harry L. Carrico Award, 2015; recipient of National Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity Order of Achievement, 2015; recipient of University of North Dakota Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, 2015; recipient of University of Mary Degree of Doctor of Leadership, 2015.