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Politics & Government

Supreme Court proposing to add judges

The North Dakota Supreme Court wants to increase by 4 the number of district judges.

Chief Justice Gerald Vandewalle says two would be added to Bismarck, one to Dickinson and one in Watford City. Vandewalle says case loads have increased statewide – but especially in western North Dakota. He does expect legislators to carefully scrutinize this proposal – in light of some fears of softening oil prices.

"They raised the issue last year, and appropriately so -- what happens if our economy starts a downturn in the growth," said Vandewalle. So, he says the proposal includes reinstating language that would allow the Supreme Court to reduce the number of judges.

"Every time there's a vacancy, we can look at it and say, 'Do we need this judgeship in the position it is? Do we need this judge any place else in the state?'" said Vandewalle. "If we don't need it, then eliminate the position."

Vandewalle says that only works when a vacancy occurs.

"A vacancy occurs upon death or resignation, or the incumbent fails to run," said Vandewalle.

Vandewalle says Williston probably needs another judge – but there are physical space issues.

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