North Dakota's chief federal magistrate judge announces retirement after 30 years on bench

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This undated photo provided July 11, 2014 by the U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota shows U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Klein. Klein said she is retiring in January 2015. Klein has been on the federal bench for 30 years. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota)

FARGO, North Dakota — U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Klein said Friday that she plans to retire after 30 years on the federal bench in North Dakota.

Klein is the state's chief federal magistrate judge. In addition to her regular duties that include presiding over initial appearances and detention hearings, she has been responsible for coordinating magistrate judge schedules and acting as a liaison with other court officers and committees.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson said Klein is a nationally recognized expert in mediation and settlement who has trained hundreds of judges in those techniques.

"Judge Klein's service has been invaluable to the federal court and the administration of justice," Erickson said.

Klein was raised in Minot and is a graduate of Minot State University. After serving in the Volunteers in Service to America program, she attended law school at the University of North Dakota, where she received her law degree in 1977.

Klein was a clerk for U.S. District Judge Paul Benson before spending six years in private practice in Fargo. She was named a federal magistrate judge in 1985.

District court officials said a selection panel will be convened to find Klein's replacement.

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