James S. Hill, Class of '74, Invested as District Judge

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News Article

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Campus Unit

School of Law


On Thursday, Burleigh County Courthouse room 301 was standing room only, as dozens gathered to witness the ceremonial investiture of South Central District Judge James Hill.

The ceremony was presided over by Judge Gail Hagerty, with an opening prayer by Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary and opening remarks from Gov. Jack Dalrymple and North Dakota Supreme Court Justice Gerald VandeWalle, both of whom had high praise for Hill.

"Really, you have been immersed in the law your whole life," Dalrymple said.

The governor recalled a conversation he had with Hill after Hill's predecessor, Judge Donald Jorgensen, vacated his seat. Hill had expressed interest in the position.

VandeWalle reminded Hill that as judge, he would have to remove himself from "the political give-and-take," and that while being judge brought some acclaim, "you are only one unpopular decision away" from losing it.

Rebecca Thiem, Hill's legal partner of more than three decades, spoke then of her long and successful working relationship with him, before embracing Hill and letting him take the stand to speak.

"A lawyer and a microphone, I love every minute of it," Hill joked as he began his speech.

Hill thanked his family and coworkers, both past and present, for their support and said he would do his best "to be a good and fair judge.

"I don't come here with any agenda," he said.

Though Hill was sworn in on Thursday, the action was ceremonial in nature and Hill has occupied the bench for two weeks.

Hill commented in his speech about the "never-ending" caseload North Dakota judges have to deal with.