Report of the Northwest Judicial District
District Court Judges: Robert W. Holte, Presiding Judge; Gary Holum; William W. McLees, Jr.; David Nelson; Everett Nels Olson, and Gerald Rustad.
Judicial Referee: Connie S. Portscheller
Number of Counties in District: 6
District Court Chambers: Minot, Stanley, and Williston.
|Case Filings/Dispositions||2001 (F) (D)||2002 (F) (D)|
The main events during 2002 were technology improvements, office and clerk relocation and a review of case assignment/case processing procedures.
Mission: Dispensing Timely Justice Within the Rule of Law.
The district continued to consider how to make the best use of jurors with the least disruption to their lives. An in-depth review continued this year to determine the causes for last minute cancellation of jury trials. Out of about 139 trials for which notices were sent to jurors, only 29 actually started. An improved jury payment system, first tested in the NWJD, reduced the juror's waiting period for payment from about two weeks to less than one week. The district also distributes questionnaires to jury members and makes improvements based on the responses. The number of jury trials decreased to 29, down from 46 last year. Technology continued to evolve throughout the district. More Citrix "thin client" workstations were put in place in the clerk's offices, courtrooms, and public use areas.
Little progress was made in case management. Overall the district had an 89% clearance rate; ie, for every 100 new cases filed this year, only 89 cases were completed. This was due to an increasing caseload and to a continuing struggle to find efficient case handling procedures with a reduced number of judges. The district Case Management Committee worked diligently to implement a new case assignment/case management system to start in 2003.
Mission: To provide and promote rehabilitation services to delinquent, unruly, or deprived children in the least restrictive manner consistent with the protection of the public interest.
The district's judicial referee handles formal juvenile hearings, child support hearings, and protection and restraining orders, as well as small claims cases.
Juvenile and support hearings are held in each of the four chambered cities. Juvenile matters in McKenzie, Divide, Mountrail, and Williams counties are taken care of by the Williston juvenile court office; Burke and Ward county matters fall under the Minot Juvenile Court office. Contracted attorneys provide juvenile indigent defense for juvenile cases, parental terminations, and Guardian ad Litem services.
Clerk of District Court
Two of the six county clerk offices in the district (Ward and Williams Counties) are staffed by state employees. The other four counties contract with the state to provide local clerk of court services in those counties. Five of the six counties are now making full use of the unified court information system (UCIS)for case management and related clerk needs.
After years of being split between two office locations (a hold over from when there was both a county clerk and a district clerk) the Ward County clerk of district court and eight deputies relocated into a single suite on the second floor. The new offices have efficient modular furniture, new filing systems, high speed computer connections, and room for an additional clerk. Towards year's end, the clerk's move allowed the reshuffling of several other state offices in the Ward County courthouse, improving community access to the clerk of court and to court administration.