North Dakota Law

Updates from the University of North Dakota School of Law.

The Honorable Ralph R. Erickson ’84 will serve as Distinguished Jurist-in-Residence

Judge Ralph R. Erickson, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, will serve as the 2024 Rodney S. Webb Distinguished Jurist-in-Residence from February 29 – March 1.

The Rodney S. Webb Distinguished Jurist-in-Residence program brings prominent judges from across the state and the country to UND School of Law to engage with our law school community and share their expertise.

As part of Judge Erickson’s visit, there will be two events that are free and open to the public.

Judge Erickson’s visit will also include guest lectures in law classes, informal receptions, individual meetings with small groups, as well as a luncheon in his honor.

The Honorable Ralph R. Erickson was born in Thief River Falls, MN. He moved with his family to North Dakota before starting elementary school. Erickson is a 1977 graduate of Rugby (ND) High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1980 from Jamestown College (now the University of Jamestown) and his J.D. from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1984.

Following law school, Erickson was in private practice in West Fargo, ND, practicing primarily in the areas of personal injury litigation, family law, criminal law, and worker’s compensation. During this time, Erickson also served as an Assistant City Attorney for West Fargo, ND where he prosecuted in both Municipal and County Court.

In 1993, Erickson was appointed a Cass County Magistrate, presiding over cases involving mental health, misdemeanors, infractions, and small claims. In 1994, he was appointed County Judge serving a multi-county district including Traill, Steele, Nelson, Griggs, and Cass Counties in Eastern ND, with his chambers in Hillsboro, ND. In 1994, Erickson was selected to the East Central Judicial District bench where he sat primarily in Fargo, ND. He served in that capacity until his appointment to the federal bench in 2003.

Erickson was nominated by former President George W. Bush to be a U.S. District Judge for the District of North Dakota on September 12, 2002. His nomination died with the expiration of the 107th Congress. He was re-nominated by President George W. Bush on January 7, 2003, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 12, 2003, and assumed office on March 14, 2003. Erickson served primarily in the Eastern Divisions of North Dakota. He served as District Judge until October 12, 2017.

Erickson has long been active in issues related to Native Americans in the federal courts as well as ethics and judicial conduct. He formerly served as the chair of the Judicial Conference of the U.S. Committee on Codes of Conduct. He is the chair of the Tribal Issues Advisory Group to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Erickson is a member of the State Bar Association of North Dakota and the Cass County (ND) Bar Association.

Erickson and his wife, Michele, currently reside in Fargo, ND and have two adult daughters.

Jurists visit for either a single day or a multi-day engagement that includes class visits, informal receptions, a presentation by the judge on a topic of their choice, and a dinner honoring the Distinguished Jurist. The Jurist-in-Residence program provides a unique and varied opportunity to learn about the bench and greatly adds to the law school experience of our students, faculty, and staff.

The Rodney S. Webb Distinguished Jurist-in-Residence Program was established in 2007. The inaugural jurist in 2007 was the late Rodney S. Webb, United States District Judge for the District of North Dakota. Through the encouragement and financial contributions of UND School of Law alumni and Judge Rodney S. Webb’s former clerks, the program has been permanently named in his honor.

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