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Senate confirms confirms as judge

The U.S. Senate has confirmed East Central District Judge Ralph Erickson's nomination to the federal bench.

The Senate's unanimous consent late Wednesday cleared the way for Erickson to become North Dakota's next U. S. district judge.

President Bush nominated Erickson to the federal bench in September. He is expected to sign Erickson's commission within a week.

"I am obviously pleased and humbled at the same time by the senate's action," Erickson said Thursday.

"I am honored that the president and the United States Senate have entrusted this opportunity to me," he said. "I hope to be the kind of judge that the people of North Dakota will be proud of."

Erickson, a state judge in North Dakota's East Central Judicial District in Fargo, said he will resign his current position once the president signs his commission.

He will succeed U.S. District Judge Rodney Webb as eastern North Dakota's federal judge.

The appointment is a lifetime position.

Webb has taken senior status and plans to work a lighter caseload.

Erickson was born in Thief River Falls, Minn., and grew up in Rugby, N. D. He graduated from Jamestown College and the University of North Dakota law school.

After nine years as a private attorney, Erickson became a Cass County magistrate in 1993. Voters elected him to the East Central District Court, which includes Cass, Traill and Steele counties, in 1994, 1996 and last year.

Webb, Gov. John Hoeven, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and other state and judicial officials congratulated Erickson Thursday.

Erickson said once he's appointed to the federal bench, he will submit his resignation to Hoeven, who will notify the North Dakota Supreme Court of the vacancy.

The court will likely choose to fill the vacancy, given the district's heavy caseload.

If so, Hoeven will call the state's Judicial Nominating Committee into session.

The committee will seek nominations, interview candidates and forward no more than seven nominees to the Hoeven.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526