Gavel passes to new chief justice in North Dakota

January 7, 2020 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The gavel has been passed to the new chief justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court.

A ceremony Monday marked the transition from 86-year-old Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle to Justice Jon Jensen.

The 54-year-old Jensen was elected chief justice by the state’s district court judges and the Supreme Court last month.

VandeWalle announced in September that he would not seek reappointment when his term expired at the end of the year.

VandeWalle was the longest-serving chief justice in state history and the oldest in the nation. VandeWalle will remain the court. He was elected chief justice five times since 1993.

Jensen was appointed to the high court by Gov. Doug Burgum in 2017. He’s a former presiding judge for the Northeast Central Judicial District in Grand Forks.

Prior to his judicial appointment in 2013 by then-Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Jensen and his wife, Linda Bata, were partners in a Grand Forks law firm, specializing in taxation law, business law and estate planning.