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State of North Dakota

History of Reform Efforts: North Dakota

Formal Changes Since Inception

1889
Supreme court justices elected by the people to six-year terms. District court judges elected by the people to four-year terms.

1909
Legislature passed the Non-partisan Judiciary Law, which forbade any references to party affiliation in judicial nominating petitions and called for a separate "judiciary ballot" to list candidates without party designation.

1930
Tenure of supreme court justices changed from six to ten years. Tenure of district court judges changed from four to six years.

1967
Legislature changed the method of selecting the chief justice from rotation to election by the state's judges.

1976
Voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing a judicial nominating committee to recommend candidates to fill interim vacancies. The legislature did not create the judicial nominating commission until 1981. Voters had rejected similar amendments in 1966 and 1968.

1987
Court of appeals established on an experimental basis by the legislature. Its operation was extended in 1993, 1995, and 2000.

1998
Voters approved a change in the process for filling judicial vacancies, requiring that judges appointed to fill interim vacancies serve at least two years before standing for election to serve the remainder of the term. Prior to the amendment, appointees served until the next general election.