Summary Review of Court Systems -

North Dakota

Structure of Civil Courts

There are district court services in each of North Dakota’s 53 counties. Under the authority granted to the Supreme Court in Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of North Dakota, the court has organized the district courts into eight judicial districts operating within four administrative units. In each district, there is a presiding judge, who oversees the courts’ judicial services in the district’s geographical area.

The North Dakota Supreme Court has five justices. Each justice is elected for a ten-year term in a nonpartisan election. The terms of the justices are staggered so that only one judgeship is scheduled for election every two years. The North Dakota Supreme Court has general jurisdiction over all appeals from the district courts.

Basis of Jurisdiction

The district courts have original and general jurisdiction in all cases except as otherwise provided by law. They have the authority to issue original and remedial writs. They have exclusive jurisdiction in criminal cases and have general jurisdiction for civil cases. The district courts are also the appellate courts of first instance for appeals from the decisions of many administrative agencies.

Commercial Courts

North Dakota has not established specialized commercial courts.


Within 60 days of filing of a lawsuit, parties must discuss ADR and file a statement as to whether it will be used. The North Dakota Judicial System encourages, but does not require, the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution as a potentially more cost effective means of resolving disputes.