Former federal circuit court judge Kermit Bye dies at 84

March 23, 2021 GMT

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Former federal circuit court judge and North Dakota native Kermit Bye has died.

Bye, 84, died Saturday at Sanford Health in Fargo, following a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to family members.

President Bill Clinton nominated Bye in April 1999 to fill the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seat left vacant by the death of Judge John Kelly, Bye’s former law partner and close friend. Kelly died in October 1998 just three days before his official swearing-in ceremony.

Bye served as an active judge on the 8th Circuit for 15 years before taking senior status on the court in 2015. He retired a year later.


During his official swearing-in ceremony in June 2000, Bye called the judgeship the highlight of his legal career, even with the gruelling nominating process.

“The process involved ... can be complex at best, certainly at times confusing and at times even frustrating,” he said to laughter. But “when it all works out, then it doesn’t seem so bad after all.”

A Hatton native, Bye was a 1962 graduate of the University of North Dakota law school and a former deputy state securities commissioner. He served as an assistant U.S. attorney for North Dakota before joining the Vogel law firm in Fargo in 1968. He worked there up until his appointment to the 8th Circuit.

Bye leaves behind his wife, Carol Beth, and three adult children.