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Burgum appoints new district court judge in Grafton

GRAFTON, N.D.-- Gov. Doug Burgum appointed a longtime Walsh County prosecutor to a judgeship Wednesday in the Northeast Judicial District.

Walsh County State's Attorney Barbara L. Whelan will begin her role as judge chambered in Grafton on Oct. 23. She replaces Judge M. Richard Geiger who retired Oct. 1 after 23 years on the bench.

Whelan has been a prosecutor in Walsh County since 2006 and served as Pembina County state's attorney from 1999 to 2005. She previously worked in private practice for eight years in Grafton.

The Northeast Judicial District has six full-time judges covering 11 counties. Judges frequently are required to travel across the district, which includes Benson, Bottineau, Cavalier, McHenry, Pembina, Pierce, Ramsey, Renville, Rolette, Towner and Walsh counties.

The North Dakota Supreme Court took public comments this year considering moving Walsh County into the Northeast Central District and chambering the new judge in Grand Forks, but ultimately opted for the status quo.

Burgum is awaiting a list of finalists from the Judicial Nominating Committee to fill a vacancy in the Northeast Central District, which serves Grand Forks and Nelson counties, created when Justice Jon Jensen left for the state Supreme Court.

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