DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — There will be a new vacancy on North Dakota's State Board of Higher Education after board member and Devils Lake attorney Dan Traynor on Thursday, Dec. 19, was confirmed to a federal judgeship.

Traynor was nominated to fill the role of Judge Daniel Hovland, who announced late last year he would enter semi-retirement. North Dakota's other district judge, Peter Welte, was confirmed by the Senate in July.

Reached by phone Thursday, Traynor said he is "honored and excited" by the confirmation.

“We’ve secured Senate confirmation for Dan Traynor to serve as a U.S. District Court judge for North Dakota,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. “I’ve known Dan for years, and the people of North Dakota will be well-served by him. Dan has shown a strong commitment to the rule of law and we’re pleased that he will be taking this role on the bench.”

Traynor graduated from the University of North Dakota's School of Law in 1997. He served as an extern for U.S. District Judge Patrick Conmy and as a law clerk for North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle. He is currently in private practice and his practice areas include tort law, insurance coverage and defense, as well as business litigation, election law and Indian law.

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“Here is the bottom line: Dan is eminently qualified in every way,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. “His character, demeanor, temperament, as well as his intellectual capacity, will make him an excellent judge. I look forward to voting for him and urge my colleagues to do the same.”

Traynor is a member of the State Bar Association of North Dakota, the Minnesota State Bar Association, the American Bar Association , the American Law Institute and the Defense Research Institute. He represents the North Dakota Bar Association in the ABA House of Delegates. Traynor is also the former chair of the Disciplinary Board of the North Dakota Supreme Court, and he served on the board of the North Dakota Defense Lawyers Association.

Nick Hacker, chairman of the State Board of Higher Education, said policy doesn't require Traynor to step down from the position. But Traynor said before he fully assumes his new job he will be stepping down from the board, though the timetable isn't exactly clear. To fill the vacancy, a new round of applications will have to be opened to fill the position. A person would be appointed on an interim basis first and then could be apply for the full-time board position later.

Board members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Legislature.