7 apply for North Dakota Supreme Court justice opening

Gov. Doug Burgum will appoint Judge Gerald VandeWalle‘s replacement.

Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle
North Dakota Supreme Court Justice Gerald VandeWalle was awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award in 2015. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune
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BISMARCK — Several judges and attorneys have applied to fill a vacancy on the North Dakota Supreme Court.

South Central District Judge Doug Bahr, North Central District Judge Stacy Louser and Northwest District Judge Daniel El-Dweek are hoping to take the seat of Supreme Court Judge Gerald VandeWalle. Attorneys David Hagler, Kiara Kraus-Parr, Angela Elsperger Lord and Jake Rodenbiker also have applied for the opening.

Citing health reasons, VandeWalle announced last month that he would retire in January. The 89-year-old is the longest-serving justice in the history of the North Dakota Supreme Court.

He was appointed to his position in 1978. He also served as a chief justice from 1993 into 2020.

A Judicial Nominating Committee will review the applications and recommend which applicants should be nominated to fill the seat. Gov. Doug Burgum will then appoint VandeWalle’s replacement.


Bahr was appointed to his seat in Bismarck in 2018. Louser has been a judge in Minot since 2014. El-Dweek has served as a judge in Watford City since 2015.

Hagler and Rodenbiker are assistant U.S. attorneys in Bismarck and Fargo, respectively. Kraus-Parr is a defense lawyer in Grand Forks who often appears at the state Supreme Court as an appellate attorney for criminal cases. Lord specializes health care law, professional liability, and alternative dispute resolution and mediation in Fargo.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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