A master calendar system has been developed for use in Stutsman County. Types of cases included on the master calendar are typically short matters such as infractions, probable cause hearings, initial appearances, bond reviews, child support reviews, small claims, traffic appeals, mental health, protection orders, and default divorces. These cases are heard on a rotating 16-day cycle on the first thru fourth Monday through Thursday of the month. Judges assigned to the Stutsman County Master Calendar include Judge John Greenwood, chambered in Stutsman County, Judges John T. Paulson and Mikal Simonson, chambered in Barnes County, and Judge James Bekken, chambered in Eddy County. The civil and criminal cases not resolved on master calendar are then distributed among the four judges according to the percentage of master calendar they handle.
The Unified Court Information System (UCIS) continues to be used as the case management tool throughout the district. There are now six counties which are on-line and enter all case information for their own counties, as well as case information for their sister counties which are not on-line. Training for those counties that are on-line is held quarterly to develop the skills needed to utilize this powerful program, as well as ensure uniform procedures.
The Juvenile Case Management System (JCMS) has been fully implemented and is being used by the three juvenile court offices in the district. Throughout the first year of use, the program has been evaluated and changes were suggested to make the program more applicable to the needs of users. This program is used by the court to enter information on specific juvenile offenders, generate statistical reports and monitor trends within the juvenile court system.
The juvenile court in Wahpeton received $31,919 as a result of a federal grant request. The juvenile accountability incentive block grant program (JAIBG) funds were primarily used as a tool to hold youth accountable for their actions. The Wahpeton juvenile office has also implemented a victim/offender mediation program which has been very successful. A number of victims and offenders have taken part in this program and have reported positive results.
The juvenile court in Barnes County was the recipient of two JAIBG grants which have funded a community service program for juveniles and a victim restitution fund. The money spent developed meaningful community service work sites for area youth and resulted in many community improvement projects at area parks and tourist areas. It also established a victim restitution fund wherein juveniles owing restitution but who are unable to pay can perform community service in lieu of payment or repay the fund, as they are able. This guarantees that the victims receive restitution as soon as possible and juvenile offenders are still held accountable for their actions.
The Stutsman County juvenile office is currently conducting training sessions for a community accountability board. The juvenile office is also working with Asset Builders to provide this service for youth in the Jamestown community.
Guardians Ad Litem
Due to new court rules regarding guardians ad litem and custody investigators, the Southeast judicial district's lay guardian program has undergone a few modifications. Lay people may now act as guardians ad litem in juvenile court cases only. In divorce/custody cases, they may act only as a custody investigator and licensed attorneys have taken over the guardian ad litem role. Training regarding these new requirements was offered via the interactive video network.