FARGO — A district court judge in Jamestown and former Cass County prosecutor has pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence after a downtown Fargo crash.
Judge Cherie Lavonne Clark announced her plea in a statement relayed Friday, Sept. 17, through her attorney Jesse Lange.
The statement reads, in part, as follows:
"On September 11, 2021, Fargo police cited me for impaired driving. The arresting officer was courteous, compassionate, and professional.
At the officer’s request, I completed a breath test. The results were .094, which is above the legal limit of .08.
As an elected official, I am expected to set a positive example. I failed to do so. I accept full responsibility for my actions.
I will faithfully comply with the terms and conditions imposed by the Court as consequences for my decision. I extend my sincere apologies to the voters of my district, to my family and colleagues, and to the entire community.
I will work tirelessly to restore the diminished trust and confidence resulting from my actions."
Neither Lange nor his client would offer further comment Friday.
Police identified Clark, 52, as the driver responsible, according to a police report and citation obtained by The Forum.
Police said officers detected signs of impairment, performed standardized field sobriety tests and a breath test on Clark, and subsequently arrested her on suspicion of DUI.
State Court Administrator Sally Holewa said all judges are subject to the same laws as private citizens, but as judges, their conduct can fall under consideration of the state Judicial Conduct Commission.
Holewa said the commission can take up such matters when a person files a complaint about a judge, or if the commission decides to initiate a complaint on its own.
Commission members would consider the totality of the circumstances of the conduct, with consequences ranging from a private reprimand up to suspension of a license or removal from the bench. Holewa said she was speaking in general terms, not specifically about this particular case.
It's not clear if a conduct complaint regarding Clark's DUI case has been initiated against her. The Forum reached out to a representative of the Judicial Conduct Commission but had not heard back as of Thursday afternoon.
Clark was appointed to the judgeship in the Southeast Judicial District of North Dakota in 2017. She began the position with her chambers in the Stutsman County Courthouse in late summer of that year.
She worked as an assistant state's attorney for Cass County from 2006 to 2017 and as an assistant county attorney for Otter Tail County in Minnesota from 2002 to 2006.
Editor's note: Jesse Lange, an attorney with Aaland Law Firm is representing Cherie Clark. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the name of Clark's attorney.