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North Dakota chief justice won't seek another term at the helm, but will stay on state's high court

Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle has served on the North Dakota Supreme Court for 40 years as of Aug. 15. He has been chief justice since 1993, and was awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award in 2015. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune
Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle has served on the North Dakota Supreme Court for 40 years as of Aug. 15. He has been chief justice since 1993, and was awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award in 2015. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune
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BISMARCK — The chief justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court said Thursday, Sept. 26, that he won't seek reappointment to the post he's held since 1993 but will stay on the court for the "immediate future."

Gerald VandeWalle, the longest-serving sitting chief justice in the country and the longest-serving in North Dakota's history, said his 86-year-old mind is "all right" but he's not as "energetic" as he used to be.

"It takes someone who's got all their energy to do this job," he said. "I think that's only fair to the court and the system and the state and its citizens."

The chief justice of the five-member Supreme Court serves a five-year term and is chosen by the state's district judges and fellow justices. VandeWalle said his successor will be selected Nov. 25.

VandeWalle was first appointed to the court in 1978 and was later elected by the state's voters to four 10-year terms, most recently in 2014.

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VandeWalle laughed when asked if he had ruled out running for re-election in 2024, saying he hadn't made a decision yet and was taking things day-by-day.

"At my stage, I don't even buy green bananas," he said.

VandeWalle was born and raised in Noonan, N.D., and he graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Law. He was given the state's highest honor in 2015 when then-Gov. Jack Dalrymple chose him for the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award.

"It's been an honor and a privilege. I've thoroughly enjoyed it," he said.

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