A prosecutor and three private practice attorneys have been named as finalists to fill the two Grand Forks judge seats left open by retired Judge Sonja Clapp and the late Judge Karen Braaten, according to the North Dakota Supreme Court.

The four finalists are Donald Hager, a Larimore attorney; Jason McCarthy, a Grand Forks County assistant state's attorney; Lolita Romanick, a Grand Forks attorney and Ted Sandberg, a Grand Forks defense attorney.

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Nine lawyers initially applied for the two open judge seats in the Northeast Central Judicial District, which covers Grand Forks and Nelson counties. One of the contenders, Grand Forks County State's Attorney Peter Welte, withdrew his name from the running in the wake of his resignation and decision to return to private practice and work for Vogel Law Firm beginning in February.

With the Grand Forks District Court short two judges, surrogate Judge Joel Medd has been picking up some of the slack. Medd retired last year, but has been filling in as a substitute judge.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple now has 30 days to pick two of the four nominees to fill the open positions. If he is not satisfied with the list of nominees, he may ask for another list to be drawn up or he may call for an election.