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Former State's Attorney Peter Welte nominated to be federal judge

Former Grand Forks County State's Attorney Peter Welte has been nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. District Court Judge for North Dakota.

Peter Welte
Peter Welte

Former Grand Forks County State’s Attorney Peter Welte has been nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. District Court Judge for North Dakota.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced the nomination Wednesday afternoon.

Welte would replace Judge Ralph Erickson, who was appointed to serve on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2018.  

“I am deeply honored that President Trump has nominated me for this position,” Welte said Wednesday. “I am grateful to Sen. Hoeven, and Sen. (Kevin) Cramer and Congressman (Kelly) Armstrong for their support. I am also proud to have been a part of Vogel Law Firm for the past four years, and I look forward to the next part of this journey.”

Now that he’s a presidential nominee, Welte’s next step will be a hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.


Welte is currently working for the Vogel Law Firm’s Grand Forks office in criminal defense and agricultural law. Up until 2015, Welte had served as state’s attorney for 13 years.

“Peter has shown strong dedication to serving the public, both in his professional life and as a member of his community,” Hoeven said in a statement on Wednesday. “He has shown a commitment to the rule of law, which will serve him well in this position. We appreciate his work over the years and look forward to advancing his nomination through the Senate.”

Cramer, R-N.D., said the nomination was an “excellent choice.”

“As a farmer, a graduate of both UND and NDSU, and an accomplished lawyer, Welte has the right background and credentials to effectively serve North Dakotans from the federal bench, and I urge my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee to take up his nomination quickly,” Cramer said.

Meredith Larson, who worked with Welte for about 10 years after he hired her as an assistant State’s attorney in 2005, said the announcement was not a surprise.

“He’s very well liked on both sides of political parties and on both sides of the courtroom, prosecutors and defense attorneys,” she said.

Grand Forks District Judge Jason McCarthy said he has known Welte for at least 20 years. They also worked together during Welte’s time as state’s attorney. “He’s immensely qualified for the position and I fully expect when he’s confirmed he will do an excellent job serving the citizens of our state,” McCarthy said.

U.S. House Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., said he worked with Welte and his office while working in criminal defense in Grand Forks.


“Peter was the state’s attorney in Grand Forks when I started practicing law,” Armstrong said.

“I worked with their office all the time. They were professional and fair minded, everything you want out of a judge.”

Welte was a law student at UND in the late 1990s after obtaining an undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from NDSU in 1989. He’s currently serving a second term on the Board of Governors of the State Bar Association of North Dakota.

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