BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum appointed a judge and veteran litigator Monday to replace Justice Gerald VandeWalle, who had been the longest-serving chief justice in state history.
Judge Douglas Bahr will join the North Dakota Supreme Court on Feb. 1 after serving in the South Central Judicial District since 2018, when Burgum first appointed him to the bench.
"Judge Bahr will make an excellent addition to the North Dakota Supreme Court with his broad legal background in the public and private sectors and his extensive experience at both the state and federal levels," Burgum said in a statement.
North-Central Judicial District Judge Stacy Louser, Minot, was among the trio of finalists. She was appointed to her North-Central judgeship in 2014 and has been successfully re-elected.
Bahr has practiced law for 27 years, including 25 in the state attorney general's office. He was an assistant attorney general from 1991 to 1998 and director of the civil litigation division from 1999 to 2016. He has appeared numerous times before the North Dakota Supreme Court and 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"His analytical skills, compassion, high integrity and character, sense of fundamental fairness and deep understanding of the law will serve our state's highest court well," Burgum said.
VandeWalle, 89, announced in November that he would retire for health reasons. He has served for 44 years on the Supreme Court, including 27 years as chief justice, from 1993 until 2019, when he did not seek reappointment as chief. He will remain on the court until Jan. 31.
Bahr can serve until the 2026 general election, when he would have to run again.