McKenzie County hires full-time state’s attorney

WATFORD CITY, N.D. – McKenzie County has hired its first full-time state’s attorney to keep up with increasing caseloads in the growing oil boom county.

Jacob Rodenbiker, a Bismarck attorney who has prosecution experience in Miami and Burleigh County, will begin working for the county next month, said County Commission Chairman Ron Anderson.

McKenzie County previously had a part-time state’s attorney, but commissioners decided the increasing criminal and civil caseload warranted hiring a full-time prosecutor, Anderson said.

“It’s a very full-time job,” Anderson said.

Not only is the number of cases up, but criminal cases have become more complex, Anderson said. In addition, other county departments are finding they need more legal advice, he said.

U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon called McKenzie County’s decision to hire a full-time prosecutor “a great step in the right direction in the fight to combat organized crime in western North Dakota.”

Rodenbiker, an associate for Vogel Law Firm in Bismarck, was out of the office Friday and not available for comment.

He is a Fargo native who worked as a prosecutor in North Dakota’s Burleigh County and Miami-Dade County in Florida, where he prosecuted criminal offenses ranging from misdemeanors to rape and murder cases, according to Vogel’s website. He also served as legal counsel for the North Dakota Insurance Department and studied international oil and gas law in Egypt during law school.

He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Law.

“He’s got a fantastic resume,” Anderson said. “We’re really pleased to have him aboard.”

Rodenbiker will have to run for office in next fall’s election.

Dennis Johnson served as the county’s state’s attorney for the past 31 years while also running a private practice. Johnson said he resigned rather than become full-time state’s attorney because he would have had to abandon long-time clients and work only for the county.

Johnson left the position Sept. 1 and a Williston attorney has filled in during the interim.

Forum News Service Reporter Mike Nowatzki contributed to this report.

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