Long-Standing District Court Judge Takes the Bench for the Last Time

The end of the year means someone’s career is wrapping up. Today marked the last day for a long-standing South Central District judge.

KX News had the opportunity to see his last day on the bench. He also sat down with us to reflect on his close to forty year career.

Judge Bruce Haskell finished up his last case at the Burleigh County Courthouse today. He’s been sitting on the bench for about 25 years now, but his career in the justice system and law enforcement spans over 35 years.

Judge Haskell is a North Dakota native from Wahpeton.

He shares, “I decided when I was in sixth grade that I wanted to be a lawyer. I found out pretty quickly that the reality and what I thought it was going to be like weren’t necessarily the same.”

It’s not an easy job. Judge Haskell says the toughest part of it is dealing with domestic disputes and custody battles. But the job is worth it when he learns someone he’s sentenced was successful in their probation and treatment.

He says his proudest moment was being one of the judges that started the Drug Court Program in 2001. Completion of the program can be used as a sentencing alternative for anyone convicted of their third or fourth DUI.

Judge Haskell adds, “That’s definitely a highlight, because that was something where you really feel like you’re helping people and accomplishing something.”

Another highlight of his job is his co-workers.

He explains, “Probably the best person to work with has been my Court Recorder, Lisa Schmidt. She’s been with me almost the whole 20 years.”

Schmidt started working at the Courthouse back in 1987. She says her relationship with Judge Haskell has been nothing but positive.

The District Court Recorder shares, “He’s very compassionate. He’s always willing to listen.”

Judge Haskell says his next step in life includes a lot of hunting, fishing and hockey rinks.

The now retired District Court Judge has two sons. One is studying Criminal Justice after spending five years in the Marine Corps, but Judge Haskell says his son plans to become a U.S. Marshall instead. 

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