Beryl Levine, first female North Dakota Supreme Court justice, dies

June 7, 2022

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Former Justice Beryl Levine, the first woman appointed to the North Dakota Supreme Court, has died. She was 86.

Levine died Saturday at her home in San Mateo, California, with her family by her side, son David Levine said Monday. Beryl Levine had suffered a serious hip injury from a fall last week and her health declined, her son said.

Democratic former Gov. George Sinner appointed Levine and Herbert Meschke to the state Supreme Court in January 1985, shortly after Sinner took office. That followed a Supreme Court battle between him and his predecessor, Republican Allen Olson, who argued over the date Sinner was to legally take office. Sinner’s victory in the dispute gave him the right to fill the two high court vacancies.

Levine was elected to a full 10-year term in 1989, and retired in 1996.

“I’d given it my best, and it’s time to move on, and get a fresh face on the court, with the enthusiasm and devotion that a new job brings,” she said in an interview at the time.

A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Levine did not begin law school until she was 35; her children then were ages 3 to 14. She commuted to the University of North Dakota law school from Fargo, studying six to seven hours a night at home.