The year 2000 provided favorable results from the "date certain" scheduling system that was implemented in May of 1999 for misdemeanor cases filed in Burleigh and Morton County. Statistics comparing 2000 to 1999 show a 50% reduction in the number of misdemeanor cases that exceed the 180 day docket currency standard. Due to these results, the district judges decided to expand this scheduling system to one and two day felony cases. The felony scheduling system started in late 2000 and results should be available in the summer of 2001. The goal of the scheduling system is to provide each defendant with a trial date within six months of arrest.
Another program, started in late 2000, was the Adult Drug Court. After a year of planning, the South Central Judicial District saw its first referrals and court session. This is the first adult drug court in North Dakota and is being presided over by Judge Gail Hagerty and Judge Bruce Haskell. At this time, the program only accepts cases from Burleigh and Morton County. The Drug Court came into being with cooperation of many agencies including the Department of Corrections Probation and Parole Division, local state's attorneys and defense counsel, as well as many treatment and addiction facilities in the area.
The districts "case flow management committee" (made up of two judges, a clerk, a calendar control clerk, a court reporter and the district court administrator) continues to meet regularly and looks at issues for improving service and makes recommendations to the entire bench.
Juvenile Division and Judicial Referee Activities
In 2000, 2,402 referrals were made to the juvenile court. This was a decrease of 238 referrals compared to 1999. Of those referrals, 855 were diverted to the Bismarck-Mandan Police Youth Bureau for disposition. These diversions are first time offenders, minor violations or children of a very young age.
There were 1,547 children retained in the juvenile court and handled either informally or formally through the petition process. There were 350 formal matters heard in juvenile court in 2000. A total of 841 children were placed on probation through the informal or formal process.
Referees conducted 500 formal juvenile hearings (up 34% from the 373 held in 1999) and issued 240 detention and temporary custody orders for children who are placed in temporary alternative environments outside the parental home.
In addition to the formal juvenile proceedings, the judicial referees conducted 395 "orders to show cause" hearings for non-payment of child support, 28 foster support matters, 27 involuntary termination cases and 83 review/modifications of child support. Full-time referee Freed heard 127 small claim cases and 37 civil traffic hearings in 2000.
The Alternative Choice Training Program (ACT) completed a decade of providing alternative sentencing programs for the court and community. In 2000, 216 people completed the minor-in-possession class while 47 people finished the adult misdemeanor class. The domestic violence class had 44 participants who completed this 24 hour class. The court added two check writing classes in 2000 and will continue to offer the check writing program free of charge for those who need help managing their bills and money.
Bismarck State College and the Adult Abused Resource Center continue to manage the classes and are responsible for the success of these alternative sentencing programs.