District Court Judges across the state are urging voters to vote yes on proposed Constitutional Amendment C.
The Amendment would clarify what tasks a District Court Commissioner can perform. A court commissioner is an acting judge who can handle a variety of tasks for a judge that range from taking depositions to holding Juvenile hearings.
District Court Judge Jeff Donnell said that caseloads have grown over the years and Judges are spending more time on the bench and District Court Commissioners can help with a number of tasks.
“We are required for example to hold the shelter care hearings in Juvenile cases within 72 hours. We are required to hold the initial hearings in mental health cases, commitment cases, within 72 hours of when the patient is taken into custody. If the District Court is in the middle of a jury trial or anything else, it gets very difficult to comply with those deadlines.”
But he added that Judges will still review all actions taken by his or her commissioner.
“For example in a mental case, if they decide to go ahead with a commitment that order is actually seen and reviewed by the District Judge in all cases before it actually is finally approved. They don’t do anything that is not final and subject to review.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kite says Constitutional Amendment C would clarify in the constitution what commissioners have already been doing for many years.