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Judge suspected of DUI after hitting 2 parked cars in Fargo, police say

Cherie Clark, a judge in Jamestown and former prosecutor in Cass County, was pulled over on suspicion of DUI in Fargo the evening of Sept. 11, according to a citation.

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Judge Cherie Clark addresses a courtroom on March 18, 2019. John M. Steiner / Forum News Service
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FARGO — A district court judge in Jamestown and former Cass County prosecutor is facing a charge of driving under the influence after a downtown Fargo crash.

Fargo police officers responded to a crash at about 11:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at First Avenue North and Broadway where a driver had struck two parked cars.

Police identified Judge Cherie Lavonne Clark, 52, of Jamestown 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. She was given a promise-to-appear bond of $700.

Clark was not booked into the Cass County Jail the evening of the crash, a jail staffer said, but could have been cited and released. That has been the procedure for DUI cases, recently, due to COVID-19 and tight space at the jail.

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The Forum's attempts to reach Clark for comment Thursday by phone and email were unsuccessful. Court records did not list an attorney for her. Her arraignment is set for Thursday, Sept. 23, in Fargo Municipal Court.

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.

Clark is a University of South Dakota School of Law graduate, and was admitted to the North Dakota bar in 2007.

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.

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