Judge’s seat could be transferredSince Southwest District Judge H. Patrick Weir will resign after his term expires in December, the North Dakota Supreme Court must decide whether to transfer the position to another district.
Since Southwest District Judge H. Patrick Weir will resign after his term expires in December, the North Dakota Supreme Court must decide whether to transfer the position to another district.
Due to an ever-increasing case load, a transfer could mean longer waits for court dates.
The Supreme Court is seeking public comments regarding the matter, which must be decided upon by the middle of May.
Weir’s resignation has complicated a Dickinson attorney’s plan to run for the position.
Kevin McCabe said he filed a petition to run, but “it’s pretty much in limbo right now.”
Judge Zane Anderson’s position is also up for election, said LeeAnn Oliver, election specialist with the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office.
“I could run against Anderson, but I’m not going to do that,” McCabe said. “I’m just going to see where this one goes.”
The only petition Oliver had received for either position as of Wednesday was from McCabe. The deadline is 4 p.m. April 15.
If the judgeship stays in this district, McCabe will run for election, he said.
Weir said he would find it “extraordinary” if the position was transferred.
“Given the increased workload, I would anticipate and hope that the judgeship would stay in the southwest district and I’m quite certain that it probably will,” he said. “I think all of the judges in western North Dakota are seeing rather dramatic increases in the caseloads, so I think each of the districts is going to claim they’re so busy they couldn’t afford to lose a judge.”
Sally Holewa, state court administrator, said there have been three southwest district judges since 2000.
“In 1991, the Legislature passed a bill that unified county and district court,” she said.
Part of the bill also stipulated the state must go from 53 county and district judges to 42. It went into effect in 1995 when there were five judges in the district which were eventually reduced to three, Holewa said.
The bill also allowed for moving judgeships when a position is vacated, she said.
“It’s happened very infrequently since the mandatory reduction,” Holewa said.
The last time a judgeship was transferred was in 2006, when one was moved from Stanley to Minot, she said.
Case filing and population trends are some of many considerations when deciding whether to move the position, she added.
Weir, who was appointed to his position in 2009, said he is stepping down with “mixed emotions,” but had no intention of completing the next six-year term.
“I’m just not absolutely certain I could continue working as hard as the three of us work,” Weir said. “I thought just in fairness to the voters and to any other lawyers that had perhaps an interest in becoming a judge, I would do it in February — make my announcement — so they would have plenty of time to get their name on the ballot for the June primary and the November election.”
Weir, 72, grew up in Dickinson and resides near Medora.
Attempts to reach Anderson were unsuccessful.
Comments must be sent by March 15 to Penny Miller, clerk of the Supreme Court, at firstname.lastname@example.org or to 600 E. Boulevard Ave., Department 180, Bismarck, ND 58505-0530.