Peter Welte, ’97, confirmed to federal judgeship

Peter Welte, who served as Grand Forks assistant state’s attorney, stands in his office on Jan 20, 2015, at the Grand Forks County District Courthouse. Welte began his job at Vogel Law Firm on Feb. 1, 2015. By Logan Werlinger / Forum News Service

The position, vacated by Judge Ralph R. Erickson when he was promoted from the federal judgeship in Fargo to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017, has been empty for nearly two years.

The U.S. Senate confirmed former Grand Forks County State’s Attorney Peter Welte to fill a long-vacant federal judgeship on Tuesday, July 30.

Welte’s confirmation comes more than six months after his nomination from President Donald Trump. He was introduced by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February.

“Peter has the right background for this very important position, and he brings a wealth of experience to the bench,” Hoeven said in a press release applauding the confirmation.

Welte, who Welte graduated from North Dakota State University in 1989 with a degree in agricultural economics and finished at the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1997, will fill North Dakota’s federal judgeship as soon as he is signed into office by Trump. The position has been empty for nearly two years because Judge Ralph R. Erickson was promoted from the federal judgeship in Fargo to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017.

“His confirmation to this important position is welcome news for our state and another example of President Trump and Senate Republicans working to end the judicial vacancy crisis,” Sen. Kevin Cramer said in a press release. “I am grateful to Peter for his willingness to serve and to President Trump for choosing a qualified and capable North Dakotan who dedicates his life to public service.”

Welte, who was approved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in March and confirmed by the full Senate in a 68 to 22 vote, is one of 194 nominees put forth by Trump thus far in his presidency. Until 2000, 97 percent of judges approved by the Senate faced nearly no opposition. The positions have become more contentious in recent years and Trump promised during his campaign to appoint conservative judges.

“I am humbled to be confirmed to this post,” Welte said. “I am grateful to have been a part of Vogel Law Firm for the past four and a half years, and I look forward to serving as a federal judge for the District of North Dakota.”

Welte served as the Grand Forks County State’s Attorney for more than a decade before joining Vogel Law firm to pursue private practice focusing on criminal defense and agricultural law.

“We are pleased that Peter’s confirmation was approved in the Senate by a significant, bipartisan majority,” said Rob Manly, Vogel Law Firm’s president. “He is an excellent choice to serve on North Dakota’s federal judiciary. We are proud that Peter will soon join a list of esteemed Vogel attorneys that have served North Dakota on the federal bench, a tradition that dates back to Charles Vogel serving on the district court bench in 1941, through Myron Bright, John Kelly, and Kermit Bye.”

Written By: Tess Williams | Jul 30th 2019 – 1pm.

Original story – Grand Forks Herald