One of the unfortunate side effects of northwest North?Dakota's population boom is an overall increase in crime, which leads to an increased caseload for court systems.
That's exactly what's happening right now, and the state's chief justice said he will ask the Legislature for more judgeships across the state. Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle said he doesn't know how many new judgeships he will seek, but a report from the National Center for State Courts indicates the need for at least three new judgeships, with the potential for six new positions.
North Dakota has 44 judges who handle trials, with that number being reduced from 53 judges during the 1990s. Some positions were consolidated or moved, including a Northwest District judgeship that was moved from Watford City to Minot. The report suggests that based on increasing caseloads, the Northwest District could use at least two new judges in Minot, with two other judges going to Fargo, one to Bismarck and one in Dickinson.
It's not news that court systems in northwest North Dakota have been overwhelmed with work, with populations in western counties exploding because of the continued oil boom. Adding new judgeships also means adding courtroom space, office staff and other support employees, but it's an issue the Legislature must absolutely face in?January. We can't speak for eastern North Dakota, but additional judges are a necessity in western North Dakota and soon.