Judge Gerald Rustad Retires from Bench
Final verdict: Judge Gerald Rustad will retire at year’s end
By Nick Smith
Williston Herald - original article
Published/Last Modified on Saturday, December 11, 2010 8:55 PM CST
After more than 40 years working with the law and the past 18 as a judge, Judge Gerald Rustad is stepping down from the bench.
Rustad has served as a Northwest Judicial District Court judge since first being elected in 1992. He will be retiring at the end of the year.
A LONG ROAD
It's been a long journey to the judge's seat for the Williston resident.
Rustad attended the University of North Dakota, graduating from its School of Law in 1969. He also was editor of the North Dakota Law Review in 1968-1969. In 1969, Rustad returned to Williston to practice law. "I went into private practice for nearly 10 years," said Rustad.
He also served as Williams County State's Attorney from 1979-82 and City Attorney for the city of Williston from 1988-92.
He then ran for Northwest Judicial District Judgeship No. 1 in 1992. He's served in the role ever since, winning reelection in 1998 and 2004.
Rustad said running for the judgeship was a good decision for him in retrospect.
"I don't know what else I would've done. You meet a lot of nice people. In general, we have good attorneys in the county and the state."
CHANGES OVER TIME
The courtroom has evolved over the course of his tenure.
"The law seems to be getting a lot more complicated. There's a lot more formalities than there once was," said Rustad.
He said attorneys are more specialized, coming in with far more technical and precise arguments to make their cases.
Also, "The Supreme Court dictates things that we have to follow more closely than we did when I started."
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
At age 66, Rustad said he felt the time was right to step away from the law profession.
"It primarily had to do with age, to enjoy the 'Golden Years,'" said Rustad.
Taking his place behind the bench will be his son Josh. The younger Rustad was elected to the position in the Nov. 2 election.
"It's rare, although I'm aware that in Valley City, a trial judge who later went on to the Supreme Court and his son became a trial judge," said Rustad.
The father-son reference is to the late William L. Paulson, whose son John T. Paulson later stepped into a role his father once served in. The younger Paulson currently serves as Municipal Judge in Valley City.
Rustad said upon retirement he intends on distancing himself from law. Traveling and visiting family, which his busy schedule didn't permit much of while a judge, is to be a priority.
He added that his son should do a good job stepping into the role. Rustad said his son likely wouldn't need much, if any, guidance from him.
"Each case is unique, each person's analysis is their own," said Rustad.
He said Josh could ask his advice if needed "but I don't expect that to happen very much."