North Dakota established their Court of Appeals in 1987 to take some of the workload off the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court for the state and has original jurisdiction over appeals as they are assigned to it by the Supreme Court. When it was created, the Court of Appeals was named the “Temporary Court of Appeals,” and the legislature expires on January 1, 2020. It is unclear whether or not North Dakota will renew this law or revise it to become a permanent part of their court structure.
When a losing litigant in District Court or Municipal Court is unsatisfied, they have the option of appealing their case to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals does not hold jury trials, nor do they examine the facts of the case, they review the original evidence, court documents, court transcripts, oral arguments and briefs prepared by each side, to determine if any errors occurred in applying the law to the first trial. Three judges sit on a panel to review cases. Two of the three must agree to form a majority. Court of Appeals judges are required to formally submit their findings as “opinions” to the Supreme Court, and they are published each month publicly.
Court of Appeals judges are usually retired District Court judges or retired Supreme Court justices, and they are all attorneys. They serve only a one-year term.
North Dakota opened up e-filing as an option for attorneys filing appeals for clients in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals in May of 2019. Both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are located in Bismarck, North Dakota. Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges earn between $82,000 - $86,000 and are some of the lowest paid judges in the country.