Remarkable Women: Gail Hagerty

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BISMARCK (KX News) — “It’s hard to do. I think this is the right time, but about half my life, I served as a judge… a long time,” Judge Gail Hagerty said.

Gail Hagerty was elected as Burleigh County Judge in 1987, which at that time, was still uncommon to see a female judge. She went on to become a district court judge in 1995 and then a presiding judge in 2004. Hagerty said, however, the writing wasn’t always on the wall to work behind the bench.

“When I was a law student, I thought I was going to be a great journalist. And then, between my second and third year of law school, I worked at the Burleigh County State’s Attorney’s Office and it just became really clear to me I needed to be in a courtroom,” Hagerty said.

Looking back on her career, Hagerty said there are so many cases that’s it’s hard to pick one or two as her favorite or otherwise. As far as what people thought about her, she said being a judge is not about being popular.

“You have to do the right thing, even when you might be criticized,” Hagerty said.

Hagerty and her husband retired North Dakota Supreme Court Justice Dale Sandstrom say their marriage has been a blessing. However, the two knew each other for almost 20 years, before getting married and raising three children.

“I think there was a headline in the Fargo Forum, when we got married, which said something like: ‘Legal Eagles build joint nest,” said Hagerty, with a laugh.

“I love all that she does and all that she is and she’s always been very involved in so many different things, incredibly busy person,” her husband Dale Sandstrom said.

Hagerty made it clear she isn’t retired, just no longer a judge. Instead, she is looking to be ordained a pastor, which she realizes is a lot of work. But she’s heard the call for a long time and is determined to serve however and wherever she’s called.

“My mother is 93 and she still works. So, I think I’ve got a few years to catch up with her,” Hagerty said.

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