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Burleigh County State’s Attorney Richard Riha will not seek re-election in 2018.

The 20-year incumbent said Wednesday he gradually arrived at the decision to retire and made “the final decision” on Saturday. When he leaves office in January 2019, he will have spent 36 years with the Burleigh County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Riha said he’s seen much growth as state’s attorney, such as the office going from four to 13 attorneys, as well as increasing caseloads since western North Dakota's Bakken oil boom in recent years.

In his role, he said he’s conducted more administrative duties than when he first entered office, including staff increases, legal advice to other county departments and reviewing contracts, such as for the new Burleigh-Morton County Detention Center.

“I’ve taken over a lot of that because there’s just been so much to do,” Riha said. “With growth, there’s more business for us.”

The Burleigh County State’s Attorney’s Office expanded under his administration and is set to expand again, utilizing space from the former Burleigh County Detention Center at the courthouse in downtown Bismarck.

Riha, 61, said he plans to enjoy retirement as most retirees do, adding he has not considered future public service.

“I really don’t have any goal in that area,” he said.

The Bismarck native completed his undergraduate coursework at the University of North Dakota in 1979, followed by law school there in 1982. He joined the Burleigh County State’s Attorney’s Office in January 1983.

“I’ve been in here long enough and time for someone else to take over,” Riha said.

He added he hasn't yet heard of any interested candidates for his elected position.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or


Crime and Courts Reporter