Judge Bruce Van Sickle (U.S. Dist Ct. for N.D)

On this date in 1971, Judge Bruce Van Sickle was nominated by President Richard Nixon for a seat on the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota for the seat being vacated by the retiring Judge George Register. Born on February 13, 1917 in Minot, ND, Van Sickle went on to attend the University of Minnesota School of Law where he graduated in 1941. With World War II gearing up, Van Sickle joined the U.S. Marine Corp. where he served until 1946 and rose to the rank of Captain. After the war, Van Sickle practiced for a brief stint on the West Coast before returning to Minot in 1947. Van Sickle became an insurance defense attorney as well as the attorney for the Minot School District. He also was elected as a Republican to the North Dakota House of Representatives where he served from 1957 to 1959. After his appointment to the District Court bench, Van Sickle went on to hear many landmark cases including one against the State of Arkansas for sentencing individuals to jail for failure to pay fines even though they were unable to do so. Another was against the State of North Dakota brought by the North Dakota Association for Retarded Citizens which challenged the state’s treatment of the mentally disabled. Van Sickle’s rulings in that case forced the State to dramatically improve the living situation for hundreds of North Dakotan’s with special needs. At age 68, Van Sickle retired from the federal bench and assumed senior status on February 28, 1985. He was on senior status when he passed away in Bismarck, ND on April 21, 2007.