Forum editorial: Three have support for judgeships

East Central Judicial District voters will elect three judges on Nov. 3. All the candidates are impressive and qualified, but three are more qualified.

East Central Judicial District voters will elect three judges on Nov. 3. All the candidates are impressive and qualified, but three are more qualified.

We endorse Fargo attorney Leo Wilking for Judgeship No. 3, Fargo attorney Steven L. Marquart for Judgeship No. 4 and for re-election, Casselton, N.D., District Judge John C. Irby in Judgeship No. 8.

Judgeship No. 3

Wilking is eminently qualified for the bench. So is his opponent, West Fargo attorney Steven E. McCullough. Indeed, both men would make excellent jurists. For example, McCullough has an excellent track record of legal work and a temperament that would wear well on the bench.

Wilking, however, has a decade more experience than McCullough and was rated at the top in the North Dakota Bar Association survey of the candidates. In addition, Wilking's reputation for hard work, integrity and a broad life experience give him the edge over his opponent.


But make no mistake about it: The judicial district can't lose with either of these highly qualified candidates, but Wilking gets our nod.

Judgeship No. 4

Marquart has our endorsement by virtue of his experience as a mediator, which equips him with the necessary judicial temperament for service as a judge. His enthusiasm is sincere. His 23 years in the practice of law encompasses a broad range of litigation, but he is refreshingly honest about his need to go "back to school" to brush up on criminal law.

JonathanGaraas knows the law; he's been practicing for a long time. He has clear ideas about how the judiciary should operate. But he also is handicapped by a low rating on the key ethics question in the Bar Association survey and the conclusion of his peers that he abuses the legal system. His campaign calls for full-blown Saturday court sessions. That sounds good, but application would be a staffing nightmare.

Judgeship No. 8

Judge Irby was appointed to the bench by Gov. John Hoeven after receiving the endorsement of the Judicial Nominating Committee. Since then Irby has earned a reputation as a fair, studious and hard-working judge. He wins praise for his work in helping establish an adult drug court. His judicial temperament is among his strengths. His experience as a small town lawyer has served him well and has been a plus on the bench.

Steve Dawson did not fare well in the Bar Association's ratings, so he dismisses the evaluation by the men and women in his profession. His view of the role of the courts seems somewhat constricted. For example, he doesn't believe the adult drug court championed by his opponent is the proper function of the court. Dawson is wrong about that.

For District Judge: Wilking for Judgeship No. 3; Marquart for Judgeship No. 4; Irby for Judgeship No. 8.


Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board

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