The Honorable M. Richard Geiger, Presiding Judge
District Court Judges: M. Richard Geiger, Presiding Judge; Lee A. Christofferson; Donovan Foughty; Lester S. Ketterling; John C. McClintock, Jr.; and Laurie A. Fontaine
Judicial Referee: Dale Thompson
Number of Counties: 11
Chambered Locations: Bottineau, Devils Lake, Grafton, Langdon/Cavalier, and Rugby.
The Northeast Judicial District has six chamber cities located within the district to serve its citizens effectively relative to population and geography. Two chambers in the east, Grafton and Cavalier/Langdon primarily service the eastern section of the district. The two-judge chamber in Devils Lake primarily serves the central section of the district. The chambers in Rugby and Bottineau primarily serve the western section of the district. In addition, the judges are regularly assigned to other cases throughout the district as the need arises. The district is also served by one judicial referee who travels throughout the counties of the district on a regular basis, handling the child support enforcement proceedings and some juvenile proceedings. This arrangement has served the judicial district well and has provided its citizens ready access to a judge, notwithstanding the substantial size of the judicial district and broad distribution of its population. The district maintains a budget of slightly over $3.3 million. It has approximately 50 personnel, including all county clerk employees.
Administratively the district continues working toward maintaining a strong communication network among its personnel. In addition to the immediate communication available through its computer network, the district maintains regular meetings among the office divisions: the offices of the clerks of court personnel, juvenile personnel, and court judicial officers. Each of these groups separately meet or confer at least annually within the district. In addition, the Northeast Judicial District in conjunction with the Southeast Judicial District has an annual meeting for all personnel to promote a common sense of mission, share work experiences, and present a professional development program for all employees. This has been a positive experience for all involved.
In its efforts to better serve the public, the district continues those efforts on many fronts. During the year the district has continued to develop and move toward the implementation of uniform practices throughout the district. Significant time commitment has been made by court and juvenile personnel in training for the proper application of the Adoption and Safe Families Act. The district has also continued its efforts to maintain adequate computer support by adding and upgrading equipment on a continuing basis and placing them at appropriate locations throughout the district and its courthouses. As part of the process of improving courtroom facilities, the district has installed augmented sound systems in the courtrooms in each of the chamber cities. It has also continued to maintain and expand its court recording system throughout the district.
The Northeast Judicial District continues its commitment to recover monetary obligations from those convicted of criminal offenses. The district remains one of the higher ones for the recovery of monetary obligations, particularly, indigent defense fees. The district also remains in substantial compliance with the docket currency standards. The benefits from the uniform case information system (UCIS) remains an important component in allowing the courts to regularly monitor management of its cases and maintain docket currency. Cross-training of court personnel remains an important priority.
The clerk of court offices have been successfully incorporated into the state system. Two counties, Walsh and Ramsey, are part of the state system in all respects including their employees. The remaining counties are under county employment, but still receive support, training and other assistance from both district and state judicial resources. The incorporation of the clerks of court more fully into the state system has been beneficial to the citizens of the district. A state management review team has recently provided a positive report for the management of the Walsh County clerk of court office. A similar review will be conducted in the Ramsey County clerk of court office in the near future. Recommendations from the report are now being implemented in Walsh County.
As in other judicial districts of the state, the courts of the Northeast Judicial District continue to see increased court activity relating to drug offenses, including the discovery of methamphetamine labs, and other crimes relating to this criminal activity.
The juvenile court for the Northeast Judicial District operates out of three sites; Bottineau, Devils Lake, and Grafton. The juvenile court officers of the district continue to utilize programs based upon the balanced and restorative justice model. These programs include referrals of juvenile offenders and crime victims to the juvenile accountability conference program, requiring juvenile offenders to participate in the Keys to Innervisions Program, substance abuse classes, and when necessary, chemical dependency treatment, random drug testing, paying restitution, and involvement in community service projects. Court officers continue to work with the local communities' organizations and regional Children's Services Coordination Committees (CSCC) to implement various projects benefitting citizens.
The Juvenile Court Management System (JCMS) continues in use. Version 3 will be installed statewide effective January 1, 2002. To further case management, filed juvenile court cases are being entered into the UCIS system and will be subject to docket currency standards.
Community service hours for 2001 totaled 7936. Restitution collected for 2001 totaled $33,194.63.
Phyllis Loftsgard, Juvenile Court Officer III retired in 2001. James Fish, a Juvenile Court Officer from Grand Forks has been selected to serve as the Juvenile Court Officer III and Director of Juvenile Services for the Grafton office, and will be an effective officer bringing several years of experience to that position.
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