Hettinger lawyer fills vacant Slope County State’s Attorney position

Hettinger graduate and local law firm partner Erin Melling has been settling in nicely at her new position of Slope County State’s Attorney, saying that it’s been going great so far.

Melling (RGB)

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

When former Slope County State’s Attorney James Gion was appointed to judgeship, Melling decided to pursue the opening. She interviewed and was appointed to the position and officially took office on Jan. 1, though she had been doing some preliminary work in the weeks prior.

Melling is a native of Hettinger and a 2002 graduate of Hettinger High School. She attended Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D., earning undergraduate degrees in Political Science and History. She then went on to the University of South Dakota for law school, focusing primarily on litigation. Melling graduated from law school in 2013 and earned her North Dakota license in 2014. She is licensed in South Dakota and is working on her license for Montana.

She said there were several reason she went into law, but one in particular stands out the most. She had a college professor tell her early on that if you really wanted to make changes, law was the way to do it. Many politicians go into law before entering governmental work, so she decided to forge her path. When asked if she sees politics in her future, she said it is a possibility.

“I wouldn’t be oppose to it,” Melling said.

But she has already put herself in the political field. Though she was appointed to the state’s attorney position now, she will have to actually run for election in November when the term she was appointed to is up. Melling said she plans to run.

She has enjoyed her work, and enjoyed the people she has already interacted with.

“Slope County is wonderful, the people are wonderful,” Melling said.

In her spare time she enjoys traveling, live music and fishing. She grew up in agriculture and still enjoys being around the industry, in and out of the courtroom.

Her schedule puts her at the Slope County Courthouse once a week on Wednesdays. She said she will be at the courthouse whenever she is needed, but video conferencing allows her to appear in Slope County Court from her office in Hettinger as well.

“It’s a privilege to be able to work for the county, it’s a very unique part of North Dakota as it is so rural,” Melling said. “It shows the quality of character of the people.”