The North Dakota Court System is comprised of Municipal Courts, District Courts, a Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.
North Dakota Municipal Courts
North Dakota Municipal Courts are overseen by part-time judges who are elected to the position. They serve a term of four years. These courts hear mainly municipal ordinance cases, with rare exception.
North Dakota District Courts
North Dakota District Courts exercise general jurisdiction over all cases of criminal felony and misdemeanors as well as civil cases. These courts also hear juvenile delinquency cases. There are seven districts in the state, and each district has one judge supervising all courts in that district. A total of 53 District Courts serve the state of North Dakota. Judges are elected to office for a six-year term.
North Dakota Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals is an appellate court, though it only hears cases that the Supreme Court assigns to it. There are three judges who sit on the panel, which are comprised of current and retired District Court judges, retired Supreme Court justices and attorneys. There are some years that no cases are assigned to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court serves as the only appellate court in the state.
North Dakota Supreme Court
The North Dakota Supreme Court is the highest court in the state, and has five elected justices which serve ten-year terms. This court hears most of the appeals in the state from lower courts – both District Courts and the Court of Appeals. At times, it may assign cases to the Court of Appeals if the caseload is substantial.
North Dakota Notable Cases
North Dakota's voter identification laws have been called into question and called discriminatory in a case brought by a group of Native Americans. The case states that the changes to voter ID requirements in 2013 are unconstitutional and "'disproportionately burden and disenfranchise" members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa tribe.
These changes in North Dakota voter ID laws require a state ID card, ID issued by a tribal government, long-term care certificate or current driver's license and must list the person's address and birth date. The plaintiff argues that these changes caused some of them to be turned away from polls because their tribal IDs did not list a current address. A similar case heard by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit decided a Texas voter ID law was discriminatory and violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act.
A neurosurgeon from Minot, North Dakota was charged with seven counts of child pornography, including production and receipt of materials depicting the sexual exploitation of minors. Mark Eichler has pleaded not guilty, and was released on his own recognizance. The case has been moved to federal court, so state charges were formally dropped against him. His medical license expired in 2008.