Oslo City Court Judge Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen has been nominated for one of two seats available on Norway’s Supreme Court, with her confirmation expected by King Harald at an upcoming session of the Council of State. She and Arne Ringnes, a partner in the Oslo law firm Thommessen, were recommended for the two seats now available on the high court.
Arntzen, age 54 and already a respected judge at the Oslo Tingrett, sprang to national and international attention when she was selected as lead judge in the state’s case against Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing extremist who bombed Norway’s government complex and then unleashed a massacre on July 22, 2011. She won accolades for her firm grip on court proceedings and stern yet respectful handling of all the traumatized people involved.
Growing up in the Oslo suburb of Bærum, Arntzen was also known as a Rolling Stones fan who could perform a memorable rendition of Jumpin’ Jack Flash for friends. The daughter and granddaughter of prominent attorneys, including a state prosecutor, she later went on to study law, work for the Justice Ministry and the state prosecutor’s office before earning the right to argue cases before the Supreme Court in 1993. She eventually went into private practice, for Oslo law firm Kluge, and became a judge in 2007.
Ringnes, a partner at Thommessen who was among those asking that his candidacy for a seat on the high court be withheld, was also nominated for the high court after establishing himself as a specialist in intellectual property and patent rights. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that he will take a considerable pay cut in accepting the Supreme Court seat, from a taxable income of NOK 15 million in 2011 to one-tenth of that in public service, but he said he’d “manage just fine. This is what I want to do for the rest of my active working life.”
Ringnes, born in 1955, said he withheld his candidacy out of consideration for his clients, his law firm and colleagues. He’s no stranger to the high court, having the right to argue before it since 2001 and serving as a judge in Follo and for the World Intellectual Property Organization. He’s been a partner at Thommessen since 1989.
Lawyers Ingvald Falch of the law firm Schjødt, and Håkon Bleken of Haavind were also recommended for seats on the Supreme Court, but in the third and fourth positions, behind Ringnes as first and Arntzen as second. With just two seats available, Ringnes and Arntzen are expected to be confirmed.