The Honorable Benny A. Graff, Presiding Judge
Douglas H. Johnson, Trial Court Administrator
District Court Judges: Benny A. Graff, Presiding Judge; Gail Hagerty; Bruce Haskell; Donald Jorgensen; Burt Riskedahl; Thomas Schneider; James Vukelic; and Robert O. Wefald.
Judicial Referees: James Purdy and Robert Freed.
Number of Counties in District: 12
District Court Chambers: Bismarck, Mandan, Linton and Washburn.
The South Central Judicial District welcomed the Honorable Robert O. Wefald who won a contested race to fill the position previously held by Dennis Schneider.
There were two major case processing changes 1999. In January, the district incorporated a system where all district judges rotate throughout the district on master calendar and are assigned individual cases from all 12 counties. Beginning in May, a "date certain" scheduling system was implemented whereby all misdemeanor cases filed in Burleigh and Morton County were assigned to the judge conducting the dispositional conference. The objective is to give all defendants a trial date within six months of filing.
In June, the South Central Judicial District adopted local rule #2 which requires a mediation orientation for all contested family law cases. This orientation requirement is in association with a pilot project sponsored by the State Bar Association.
The district has in place a "case flow management committee" (made up of two judges, a clerk, a calendar control clerk, a court reporter and the district court administrator) that meets regularly to look at issues for improving service and make recommendations to the entire bench and judicial district.
Juvenile Division and Judicial Referee Activities
In 1999, 3566 referrals were made to the juvenile court. This was an increase of 530 children compared to 1998. Of these referrals, 897 primarily first time offenders, minor violations, or young age were diverted to the Bismarck-Mandan Police Youth Bureau for disposition.
The juvenile court retained 2669 children who were handled either informally or formally through the petition process. A total of 631 children were placed on probation through the informal or formal process.
Referees conducted 359 formal juvenile hearings and issued 240 detention and temporary custody orders for children who were placed in temporary alternative environments outside the parental home.
In addition to the formal juvenile proceedings, the judicial referees conducted 343 order to show cause hearings for non-payment of child support, 47 foster support matters, 19 involuntary termination cases, and 61 review/modifications of child support. Full-time referee Freed heard 132 small claims cases and 21 civil traffic hearings in 1999.
The Alternative Choice Training Program (ACT) continued into its ninth year. In 1999, 298 people completed the minor in possession class, and 74 finished the adult misdemeanor class. The domestic violence class had 48 participants who completed the class. Bismarck State College and the Adult Abused Resource Center continue to manage the classes and are responsible for the success of this alternative sentencing program.
SOUTH CENTRAL JUDICIAL DISTRICT CASELOAD FOR CALENDAR YEARS 1998 AND 1999
|Case Filings/ Dispositions||1998|