Emily Welker, Published November 04 2013
VIDEO: Former federal prosecutor sworn in as new East Central Judicial District judge
“So much so I almost thought I was in the wrong courtroom,” Judge Steven Irby said while introducing Norman Anderson, his newly minted East Central Judicial District colleague.
At least a dozen sitting judges from North Dakota district courts, the state Supreme Court and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals attended Anderson’s judicial investiture at the Cass County Courthouse, along with a packed gallery of friends, family and colleagues.
One of them was former U.S. attorney and current Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, who told everyone he had lobbied for Anderson’s appointment to the newly created judicial opening.
Wrigley and Anderson, a former Marine, worked together on the death penalty case against convicted murderer Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. Anderson helped defend the case against its many appeals until he retired from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2007.
“I can’t match Marine stories with Norm, but we have been through a couple of battles,” Wrigley said.
During his retirement, Anderson was an administrative law judge before throwing his hat in the ring for the Cass County judicial seat.
North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle said Anderson would have to leave behind his previous roles as administrative law judge and federal prosecutor.
A judge’s role requires balance and fairness, as well as ability and intelligence – something Anderson had displayed three decades ago as VandeWalle’s law clerk, VandeWalle said.
“Thirty-one years ago, I envied you your calm and polite demeanor,” VandeWalle said. “Who would have thought in 1982, either of us would be here to mark your investiture as a district judge?”
Anderson told the assembled group that VandeWalle was one of several people who had a deep influence on his early career.
After a few years recharging his energy after the leaving the U.S. attorney’s office, Anderson said, he felt he had more to give back to the community and was ready to get back into the courtroom.
He called the experience of being sworn in “overwhelming and humbling.”
“Everyone’s been very supportive and welcoming,” he said of his new colleagues at the Cass County Courthouse. “I’m looking forward to the work.”
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Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541