Dalrymple Appoints El-Dweek, Sjue and Ehlis to District Court Judgeships

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School of Law


Gov. Jack Dalrymple today appointed Williams County Assistant States Attorney Kirsten Sjue and Daniel El-Dweek, supervising attorney in the Williston Public Defender’s Office, to newly created judgeships in the Northwest Judicial District. El-Dweek will be chambered in Watford City, while Sjue will serve in Williston. Gov. Dalrymple also appointed Stark County Assistant State’s Attorney Rhonda Ehlis to a new judgeship in the Southwest Judicial District, with chambers in Dickinson.

“Kirsten Sjue, Daniel El-Dweek and Rhonda Ehlis are dedicated and highly qualified attorneys who are well respected by their peers,” Dalrymple said. “Their integrity and extensive experience in criminal and civil law will be a great asset for the citizens served by the Northwest and Southwest judicial districts. I am confident that our new district court judges will bring to the bench the same sense of fairness and respect for the law that has defined their careers.”

The Northwest Judicial District serves Divide, McKenzie and Williams counties. The Southwest Judicial District serves Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Hettinger, Slope and Stark counties.

Since March 2013, Sjue has served as an assistant state’s attorney in Williams County, where her duties have included all facets of criminal cases, including jury trials and matters involving juveniles and child support. Prior to joining the state’s attorney’s office, Sjue was an associate attorney at the Crowley Fleck law firm in Williston. Her private practice included commercial and natural resources law. A long-time resident of Williston, Sjue began her legal career gaining experience as a judicial law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson as well as for Gerald VandeWalle, chief justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court.

In 2006, Sjue graduated with distinction from the University of North Dakota School of Law. A National Merit Scholar, Sjue attended Wheaton College and the University of North Dakota (UND), earning an undergraduate degree in Political Science from UND in 2003.

El-Dweek has supervised the Williston Public Defender’s Office since 2013. As the lead public defender, El-Dweek has managed the office’s daily operations and has mentored new attorneys while also representing clients at all stages of the criminal justice process. Prior to joining the public defender’s office, El-Dweek was a staff attorney at the Regional Native Public Defense Corp in White Earth, Minn., where he represented members of the Leech Lake and White Earth Ojibwe bands. From 2006 to 2010, he served as the managing attorney for Dakota Plains Legal Services at Fort Thompson, S.D.

El-Dweek graduated from the UND School of Law in 2006. He also earned an undergraduate degree in Public Administration at UND, graduating with distinction in 2003.

Rhonda Ehlis has served as an assistant Stark County state’s attorney for nine years. During her tenure in the state’s attorney’s office, Ehlis has managed a large caseload including criminal cases, juvenile matters, mental health cases, child support and civil representation for Stark County officials. An attorney for 22 years, Ehlis’s legal experience includes serving as staff attorney for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, legal counsel for the Bismarck office of Regional Child Support Enforcement, and six years of private practice at the Hardy, Maus and Nordsven law firm.

Ehlis earned her law degree from the UND School of Law in 1993. While attending law school, Ehlis worked at the Legal Aid Clinic and served as its student director in 1992 and 1993. In 1990, she earned an undergraduate degree in Political Science at UND.

During the 64th Legislative Assembly, Gov. Dalrymple supported and the Legislature approved the establishment of four new judgeships to help the state’s district courts manage their caseloads.