Report of the East Central Judicial District
District Court Judges: Michael O. McGuire, Presiding Judge; Norman J. Backes, Georgia Dawson, Ralph R. Erickson, John C. Irby, Lawrence A. Leclerc, Frank L. Racek, Cynthia A. Rothe-Seeger
District Court Referees: John A. Dietz and Janice Benson Johnson.
Number of Counties in District: 3
District Court Chambers: Fargo, Hillsboro
|Case Filings/Dispositions||2001 (F) (D)||2002 (F) (D)|
The Supreme Court moved a judgeship from the Northwest Judicial District to the East Central judicial district giving our district an eighth judge. John C. Irby was appointed and took the bench May 1, 2002. With the additional judge, the criminal division schedule was revamped , assigning four judges to the criminal division and four to the civil division. After relocating personnel, the judges are all ensconced in their respective offices. With the fourth judge being assigned to criminal division, a criminal division judge now travels to Traill County one day a week and to Steele County one day a month to take care of court business.
On November 11, 2002, the Cass County district court was integrated into the state information system, a conversion from PCSS to UCIS. This was a big change for Cass County district court and without the cooperation, assistance, and patience of personnel both in Cass County and the state Supreme Court technical staff, this could not have been accomplished. The unified court information system (UCIS) was installed in Traill County in June of 2002 and in Steele County the end of December 2002. This is the first information system these two counties have ever had. All of the East Central Judicial District is now operating on UCIS, alleviating the need for hard copy data and statistics to be furnished to the state administrative office.
Cass County built a new jail which is located a distance from the courthouse. Meetings and dialogue took place before the transition to adapt to the shuttling of inmates to and from court so as not to create delays. This has caused minimal problems as far as the court is concerned.
The meshing of the clerk's office and district court staff in Cass County has resulted in court reporters clerking for the hearing judge, as well as taking the record. Secretaries are clerking court trials to put less burden on the clerk's office which is understaffed.
In September our court hosted five Russian judges as they observed our court, visited with judges and other court personnel. The staff served tea and refreshments. It was a time of sharing knowledge and information for all involved.
The referees keep a full schedule hearing small claims, traffic cases, child support, pre and post divorce matters and all juvenile cases in which a judge is not requested. One referee uses one of the district court courtrooms because juvenile court has only one courtroom. We find our judges strapped for courtrooms on occasion, necessitating use of the county commission room as a courtroom.
The East Central Judicial District juvenile court saw a small increase in referrals from law enforcement. There were 21 fewer misdemeanor, felony referrals, and an increase of 133 referrals for unruly. Most notable are the l96 deprivation petitions filed. Over $30,000 in monetary restitution was collected. The staff in juvenile court continue to be involved in the community. The director of juvenile court serves on the board of Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grant, Children's Services Coordinating Committee, Program Committee for Children's Services Coordinating Committee Mayor's Gang Task Force, and the West Fargo Prevention Program. As funding services become more limited, the juvenile court is developing a plan which would include having fewer resources available in the community and are in the process of prioritizing what programs are necessities.
All filings increased in our district. Our district judges tried ten civil jury trials, five felony trials, 34 misdemeanor jury trials, 69 civil bench trials and criminal bench trials, as well as civil motions, in Cass County numbering 3,165, as well as l,046 hearings in Traill and Steele (includes both criminal and civil). The referees held 2,362 child support hearings.