Courts Law North Dakota


The North Dakota judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Courts, and Municipal Courts. The judiciary of the State is responsible for providing an equal and fair system of justice to citizens of North Dakota.


The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state of North Dakota. It is composed of five justices elected in a non-partisan election for ten-year terms. Each justice must be a licensed attorney and a citizen of the United States and North Dakota.

One member of the Supreme Court is selected as Chief Justice by the justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of the district courts. The Chief Justice's term is five years. The Chief Justice's duties include presiding over Supreme Court conferences, representing the judiciary at official state functions, and serving as the administrative head of the judicial system.

In its judging capacity, the Supreme Court is primarily an appellate court with the responsibility of hearing appeals from decisions of the district courts and the Court of Appeals.

In its administrative capacity, the Supreme Court has major responsibility for ensuring the efficient and effective operation of all non-federal courts in the state, maintaining high standards of judicial conduct, supervising the legal profession, and adopting procedural rules which allow for the orderly and efficient transaction of judicial business.

Jurisdiction of Supreme Court

The supreme court may exercise appellate jurisdiction only, except when otherwise specially provided by law or by the constitution. Such court, in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, may issue writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari, and injunction.

In the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, and in its superintending control over inferior courts, it may issue such original and remedial writs as are necessary to the proper exercise of such jurisdiction. Such court shall exercise its original jurisdiction only in habeas corpus cases and in such cases of strictly public concern as involve questions affecting the sovereign rights of this state or its franchises or privileges.


The Court of Appeals hears only the cases assigned to it by the Supreme Court. It is composed of three judges chosen from among active and retired district court judges, retired justices of the Supreme Court, and attorneys.

The Supreme Court assigns cases to the Court of Appeals from among those cases filed with it. Some years the Supreme Court assigns no cases to the Court of Appeals.


The district courts are the courts of general jurisdiction in North Dakota. They have original and general jurisdiction in all cases, including criminal felony and misdemeanor cases, and general jurisdiction for civil cases.

The district courts also serve as the juvenile courts in the state and have exclusive and original jurisdiction over any minor who is alleged to be unruly, delinquent, or deprived.

Jurisdiction of district courts

The district courts of this state have the general jurisdiction conferred upon the courts by the constitution, and in the exercise of that jurisdiction the courts have power to issue all writs, process, and commissions provided therein or by law or which may be necessary for the due execution of the powers with which the courts are vested. The courts have:

  1. Common-law jurisdiction and authority within their respective judicial districts for the redress of all wrongs committed against the laws of this state affecting persons or property.
  2. Power to hear and determine all civil actions and proceedings.
  3. All the powers, according to the usages of courts of law and equity, necessary to the full and complete jurisdiction of the causes and parties and the full and complete administration of justice, and to carrying into effect the courts' judgments, orders, and other determinations, subject to a reexamination by the supreme court as provided by law.
  4. Jurisdiction of appeals from all final judgments of municipal judges and from the determinations of inferior officers, boards, or tribunals, in the cases and pursuant to the regulations as may be prescribed by law.
  5. Disputed property line proceedings.
  6. Power to hear and determine all actions and proceedings arising from the enforcement of county home rule charter ordinances.


The jurisdiction of this court is confined to cases for recovery of money, or the cancellation of any agreement involving material fraud, deception, misrepresentation, or false promise, where the value of the agreement or the amount claimed by the plaintiff or the defendant does not exceed five thousand dollars.

The proceedings in this court must be commenced:

  1. If the defendant is a corporation, limited liability company, or a partnership, in any county in which the defendant has a place of business or in any county in which the subject matter of the claim occurred.
  2. If the claim is for collection of a check written without sufficient funds or without an account, in the county where the check was passed, or in the county of the defendant's residence or place of business.
  3. If the defendant is an individual and the claim is for collection of an open account on which credit has been extended:
    1. In the county of the defendant's residence or place of business; or
    2. If the amount of the claim is less than one thousand dollars and is not from a telephone or mail order transaction, in the county where the transaction occurred or in the county of the defendant's residence or place of business.
  4. If the defendant is an individual and the claim is not made under subdivision b or c, in the county of the defendant's residence.
  5. If the defendant is an individual and the claim arose as the result of the defendant's lease of real property, in the county where the defendant resides or in the county where the real property is located.
  6. If the plaintiff is a political subdivision and the claim is for a public utility debt, in the county in which the political subdivision is located.