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Wendy Reuer, Published February 26 2014

Gov. Dalrymple appoints Fargo attorney to district bench

FARGO – A longtime attorney here has been appointed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple to serve on the bench of the East Central Judicial District.

Thomas Olson, 61, was appointed Wednesday to replace Lisa McEvers, who was appointed in November to the state Supreme Court.

“I’m honored and humbled that the governor saw fit to place this appointment with me,” Olson said. “I’ve enjoyed 32 years of practicing law and look forward to a new phase of my career. “

The East Central District serves Cass, Traill and Steele counties.

“Thomas is a dedicated and highly qualified attorney who is well-respected by his peers,” Dalrymple said in a news release. “His many years of experience in civil litigation and mediation services will serve the people of the East Central Judicial District very well.”

Olson, an attorney with the Johnson, Ramstad and Mottinger firm in Fargo, has spent his entire legal career in the city. He specialized in litigation and mediation services.

Olson was chosen to replace McEvers among seven other attorneys who applied for the position, six of whom were also from Fargo.

In a North Dakota State Bar Association survey, nearly 300 attorneys rated Olson the highest among the seven candidates.

“I would like to thank the members of the bar and the community who have supported my nomination,” Olson said.

He will serve a two-year appointment term. He can then choose to run for a four-year term. After those years of service, Olson could choose to run for the general six-year term district judges serve.

Olson graduated in 1981 from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, and received an undergraduate degree from Augsburg College.

He has served as secretary of the North Dakota Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, is past president of the Red River Soccer Association and is a past council member of the First Lutheran Church of Fargo.

He and his wife, Sandra Leyland, have six children, including two adopted children ages 2 and 8 months.

“Only recently did I begin to think about serving as a judge,” he said. “The position fits well with my new role as father.”

Olson plans to move from private practice to the judgeship within the next 30 days.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530