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Bill adding 3 judges passes

BISMARCK -- The North Dakota judicial system will have three new district court judges once Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs off on the budget for the state's judicial branch.

House lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2002 Monday morning 87-4 with the Senate unanimously passing it Friday.

Two judges will be placed in the Northwest District and the other in the East Central District.

Chief Justice Gerald Vandewalle asked lawmakers for the three new judges to help handle the large increase in court cases that have come largely, in part, from the increase in population due to the oil boom.

Vandewalle said it's clear one will be in Fargo and another in Williston, although where they will be placed has to receive some consultation with various officials and go through administrative hearings, he said.

The three positions will have to be filled within 30 days of the bill becoming law on Aug. 1 and the judges will remain in office until the next general election two years from their appointment -- 2015 -- when they will have to be elected.

District court judges will receive a salary jump from $122,000 to $131,000 through June 2014 and $135,000 after.

The bill also bumps the salary of a Supreme Court justice from $134,000 to $143,000 until June 2014 and $147,000 after with the chief justice earning an additional $4,127 a year through 2014 and $4,250 after.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.