North Dakota District Courts are the general jurisdiction courts for the state created by the state Constitution to level the court system. These courts have original domain over most all types of cases except where the law dictates otherwise. District Courts act as appellate courts for Municipal Courts when requested by the Supreme Court.
North Dakota is split into eight judicial districts, and there is one District Court in each of the 53 counties across the state. District Court judges are elected into office and serve a six-year term. They can hear cases in any county in their district. The Supreme Court can assign a judge to a district outside their own elected region for temporary or permanent positions. There are 51 District Court judges. In each district, one judge is elected by his or her peers to act as Chief Judge. They serve an administrative and supervisory role along with their other responsibilities. To help with these extra duties, the judge is assisted by a trial court administrator who “ensures uniform and consistent implementation of Judicial Branch policies and procedures. Among other duties, the trial court administrator supervises all trial court personnel except referees, law clerks, court reporters, and electronic court recorders unless the presiding judge has assigned supervision of those positions to the administrator.”
Each judge is assigned a Court Clerk to help with the management of the court, keeping records, schedules, and collecting fees. These court employees may come from state or county offices or be elected into the position.
The Supreme Court also assigns judicial referees to each presiding judge within a district to help them manage caseload and support the court. North Dakota has five referees in three different judicial districts.
As needed, the Supreme Court can assign Surrogate Judges to step in when there is a vacancy in one of the districts.