All three lawyers who applied to succeed North Central Judicial District Judge William W. McLees when he retires at the end of next month were forwarded on to Gov. Jack Dalrymple as acceptable candidates worthy of the position.
Dalrymple will have 30 days from Tuesday to make his decision, choosing between Kelly A. Dillon, Stacy Louser and Robert W. Martin.
The applicants were interviewed Tuesday morning at the Grand Hotel in Minot by the six permanent members of the North Dakota Judicial Nominating Committee and three auxiliary members composed of those in the legal world of the North Central district.
"All three were deemed qualified candidates," said Tony Weiler, the executive director of the North Dakota Bar Association who also serves as secretary to the committee, in an interview later on Tuesday. "They do a good job but they don't have to pick just one. They forward them on to the governor and he gets the tough job."
The three candidates represent a cross section of the law.
Dillon has served as the Deputy State's Attorney for Ward County since January 2003. She has prosecuted misdemeanor and felony crimes including serious Class AA felony crimes like gross sexual imposition and the quadruple murder trial of Omar Kalmio in early 2013.
Dillon got her Juris Doctor law degree from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks in 1994. She clerked for both a private law firm in the summer of 1991 and for the Northwest District Court in Minot in the summer of 1993. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcasting with a minor in communication arts in 1988 from Minot State University, where she later returned to serve as an adjunct professor of criminal justice from 2008 through 2010.
Louser is a Minot attorney in private practice as a partner in the Louser & Zent P.C. firm since October 2007, where she had clerked for a few months in 2005 after earning her paralegal certificate in 2004. She began her legal career following a career as an occupational therapist for which she earned a Bachelor of Science degree, Cum Laude, from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks in December 1996, and a Master of Science degree in management with a concentration in organizational behavior from Minot State University in May 2001.
She earned her Juris Doctor degree with distinction from the University of North Dakota in May 2007 and has practiced in the area of civil matters such as divorce, legal separation and parenting issues as well as business law matters such as settlement negotiation and business entity formation. She is also a qualified mediator.
Martin is the supervising attorney for the Minot office of the North Dakota Public Defenders and has served in the position, with five employees reporting to him and a full time trial case load, since March 2006. Prior to that he was a sole practitioner at the Robert W. Martin, Esq., law firm in Bismarck from May 1991 to September 2002 when he went on to become a staff attorney for the Bismarck Regional Child Support Enforcement Unit in the Burleigh County State's Attorney's Office until 2006. Also during this time he served as a Special Assistant State's Attorney in all twelve counties of the South Central Judicial District working in child and paternity cases.
As supervising attorney for the public defenders he still tries cases, now numbering about 1,700 in total, ranging from juvenile matters to Class AA felonies including five homicides.
He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minn., in May 1988 after earning his Bachelor of Arts degree from North Dakota State University in Fargo with a major in political science and a minor in history.