- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - A lack of space at the Williams County Courthouse in Williston has led to a huge backlog of cases.

Trials and even divorce cases are being pushed back by as much as a year, leading to an embarrassing situation, Judge David Nelson told the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/1fJi8Z0 ).

“Right now if you wanted a two-day trial on my calendar, it would probably be March or April of 2015,” he said.

The courthouse has three courtrooms, along with an extra one in the basement. However, there are four judges and a referee who hear cases, and Williston’s Municipal Court uses one of the courtrooms twice a week.

“I’m now scheduling (divorce cases) for March 2015,” Nelson said. “If somebody comes to me and wants to get a divorce - they have major issues. Who’s going to get the kids? Who’s going to get the property? It’s embarrassing for me to tell them ‘you’re going to have to wait a year.’ That’s just unacceptable. We have to do something.”

County Commissioner Dan Kalil said the county in the heart of the booming western North Dakota oil patch has many other needs to address.

“We have done all we can for the court system at this time,” he said.

Judges are eyeing space in a building the county recently purchased across from the courthouse. Commissioners will begin considering possible uses for the building in the spring.

The Supreme Court recently added two judges in the Northwest Judicial District because of a 53 percent increase in cases between 2010 and 2012. The Supreme Court also split the six-county district in two at the start of the year, creating separate three-county districts.


Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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