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Supreme Court Justice Gerald VandeWalle retiring

Courtesy Supreme Court
Courtesy Supreme Court

North Dakota Supreme Court justice Gerald VandeWalle will retire, effective January 31st, 2023.

VandeWalle is the longest serving justice in state history. He served 44 years on the Supreme Court, 27 as Chief Justice. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1978. Before that, he served as a special assistant attorney general, getting that appointment in 1958.

"He was 'the Chief' to so many of us — I still call him that," said State Bar Association of North Dakota executive director Tony Weiler. "He had a lifetime of service to North Dakota. It really is legendary."

Weiler said he met Vandewalle when he clerked at the Supreme Court in 1998. He said his memories will be about how VandeWalle treated people.

"He was always respectful, always kind to people," Weiler said. "He was thoughtful of how decisions made by the Court would impact North Dakotans, and he applied the law in a way he believed was really just."

Former Supreme Court Justice Dale Sandstrom served with him for 24 years – and actually met VandeWalle when they were in the Attorney General’s office.

"His is an amazing record of service to the people of North Dakota," Sandstrom said. "He is not only the longest service justice, he's the longest service statewide elected official since statehood."

Sandstrom said VandeWalle devoted his life to serving the people of North Dakota.

"That's a record of service unlikely to be equaled," Sandstrom said.

The clerk of the Supreme Court – Petra Hulm – said VandeWalle’s contributions to the justice system in North Dakota will “leave an indelible mark on North Dakota’s history."

The state Judicial Nominating Committee will now meet. Weiler is a member of that committee.

"The committee will be tasked with nominating attorneys to the Governor," Weiler said.

That committee must forward a list of nominees to the Governor within 60 days of receiving the vacancy notice. The Governor then has 30 days to fill the vacancy, direct the committee to reconvene, or call for a special election to fill the vacancy.

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