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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A vote for the justice system

Just in time for primary election day, Hennepin County District Court Chief Judge James Swenson and Hennepin County Bar Association President Mary Vasaly have issued a press release addressing the cut in jury pay and other effects of budget cuts on the courts. They write that civil filing is now closed on Wednesday afternoons; mandatory non-binding arbitration has been shut down; supervision of parent visitation services has been discontinued; and staff has been cut that would otherwise help victims process their domestic abuse cases.

Vasaly and Swenson continue: “The results:

“The time it takes to process civil judgments has doubled. One attorney noted it will now take more than two months to begin efforts to collect a multi-million dollar judgment. In that time, he fears the money will be hidden or gone. Previously, a writ was ready in two to four weeks;

“Homeowners suing a contractor for work not done will wait four to five months for a hearing date. Meanwhile, there are no funds for the homeowner to finish the incomplete home improvement project;

“If you suspect ill-treatment of your parent in a nursing home, the nursing home may file a harassment claim against you. A hearing request regarding the claim now takes two months. In the meantime, the harassment order remains in effect which bars you from seeing your parent.”

The solution is in the public’s hands. “Tell candidates for public office that it is time to properly invest in our court system. Fair pay for jury service, keeping all Hennepin County courthouse doors open, protecting children and domestic abuse victims, and ensuring that justice is not delayed all depend on it,” Vasaly and Swenson write.

Blog readers, please pass the word, and don’t forget to vote!

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