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New District Judges

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Both district judges in Williston were stretched thin, but two new addition will help ease the workload.


Court filings in western North Dakota have increased by 37 percent over the past two years, according to the state Supreme Court.

     To help ease the burden on district judges, Governor Dalrymple has appointed two more district judges in western North Dakota.

     And judges say that will make their courtrooms run more efficiently.



Judges David Nelson and Josh Rustad have spent more hours in the courtroom than they ever thought was possible.


     "An average judge does about 1500 cases, major cases, a year. Between the two of us we're doing about 7800 cases a year," said District Judge David W. Nelson.


The newly appointed Judges are Robin Schmidt, who will be serving in Watford City, and Paul Jacobson, who will be serving in Williston. These additions will cut down on increasing caseloads each judge handles.


     "The case load keeps going up, I suspect it's going to be 8,000 to split the four of us, that's still 2,000 per judge, but it will make a big difference," added Nelson.


With four judges now in the district, the Northwest North Dakota district is switching to a system used by the rest of the State called master calendar. For one week each month, a judge will be assigned to work cases that have to be processed quickly. That allows the other three judge to focus their time on bigger cases.


     "The quicker that you can get through cases, the quicker you can get matters placed on the jury calendar, and have this cases resolved," said District Judge Josh Rustad.


Adding two more judges will also have an impact on an overcrowded county jail.


     "The sooner you get a resolution that will have an impact on easing some of that burden," Rustad added.


Both Judge Nelson and Rustad are excited to have more help, but they both say this process isn't going to be as easy as 1,2,3.


    "It's not going to get automatically, like a light switch, that all the sudden no problem. We understand they we are going to continue to be busy," added Rustad.


The third floor of the courthouse is being renovated right now for Rustad, Nelson, and their new colleagues. New chambers are being built, and new officers for other staff members in the court house. Nelson expects Jacobson to start in early August, and Schmidt in September.


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