Choosing 'your honor': Greenwood, Henning square off on Nov. 6 ballot for Weir's judicial seat
Earlier this year when Southwest District Judge H. Patrick Weir announced his resignation at the end of his term, it left an open seat to be filled in the Nov. 6 general election.
Dann Greenwood, Tom Henning and Kevin McCabe went toe-to-toe in the primaries, leaving Henning and Greenwood to duke it out in the general election.
"I think my background will give me the ability to do well in the area," Greenwood said. "I'm excited about the challenge because it does involve a new approach. In the past, I've always been an advocate and in a judgeship you have to work very hard to be impartial."
Both have long-term experience, Greenwood in his private practice and Henning in the Stark County State's Attorney's Office.
"Our criminal practice up here is extensive," Henning said of his 30 years in the state's attorney's office. "Our civil practice isn't as extensive, but we're in the courtroom an awful lot."
Greenwood has been campaigning on the results of a bar association poll released in June, in which 159 bar association members rated judicial candidates from across the state. Twenty-three of those polled were in the Southwest District.
"I think that demonstrates that the professionals that I've dealt with over the years have a good deal of confidence in my ability to perform that job," Greenwood said.
Henning is worried that the low number of lawyers polled (it was sent out to more than 2,000 statewide) and even lower number from the southwest corner of the state, combined with the fact that he is not a member of the bar association, skew the results of the survey.
"There were three guys in the poll, he's the only one that's ever been -- I mean, that's a big deal, to be president of the bar association, I don't disagree," he said. "But I think, when you do a poll like that ... do they know me? I don't know how they could."
Henning is a member of the North Dakota State's Attorney's Association.
The North Dakota Bar Association has the same dog in the fight as anyone else, executive director Bill Newman said.
"We want to have good judges," he said. "We, like the general public, want to have people sitting on the bench who will do the job well."
Other than the poll, the bar association takes no other action in a judicial race, Neumann said. It does not do any endorsing.
As of June, the average district judge in North Dakota earned an annual salary of $126,460. In comparison, the governor made $113,591, but a judge is not provided housing.
Weir of Medora was appointed to his post in 2009. Both Henning and Greenwood put their names in the hat for the position at that time as well.
"I think the Southwest Judicial District is lucky to have two good lawyers to choose from in this particular race," Neumann said.