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Sixth Judicial District
2018 Annual Report
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Flag of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Raised in Carlton County
The Fond du Lac Band is one of six Chippewa Indian bands that make up the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. The La Pointe Treaty of 1854 established the Fond du Lac Reservation, and geographically, half of its land is located in Carlton County. Because of its location, the Carlton County Treatment Court includes tribal partners. Through work on the Treatment Court, Judge Leslie Beiers of Carlton County initiated conversations with Treatment Court tribal partners and Fond du Lac Chief Judge Ojibway Townsend about making the courthouse and courtroom more inclusive of tribal partners.
Their efforts led to an agreement that the flag of the Fond du Lac Band would be installed in the courtroom. A flag installation ceremony was held on August 7, 2018. It is a tradition of the Anishinaabe Ojibwe people of the Great Lakes region that ceremonies begin with a traditional drumming ritual. Members of the Fond du Lac Veteran’s group, many of whom attended the ceremony, presented the Fond du Lac Band’s flag. In addition to judges and staff, members of the Reservation Business Committee, the Carlton County Board of Commissioners, justice system partners, and many community members attended the ceremony.
South St. Louis County Veterans Court Receives U.S. Department of Justice Grant
The South St. Louis County Veterans Treatment Court was awarded a United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Veterans Treatment Court Discretionary Grant in September 2018 that will fund much of the Court’s operations until 2022. The Grant, in the amount of $550,000 for a term of four years, will fund additional drug testing, probation services, advanced training opportunities, research in partnership with the University of Minnesota Duluth, and a half-time treatment court coordinator.
The South St. Louis County Veterans Treatment Court, a special program designed to assist veterans involved in the criminal justice system who are diagnosed with a mental health or substance use disorder, currently has a capacity of five veterans at any given time. The Grant will allow the Court to serve up to 25 veterans at any given time. The program began implementing the new funding in January 2019.
Warrant Resolution Day Held in Duluth
St. Louis County District Court in Duluth partnered with local prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, and the Public Defender’s Office to hold a Warrant Resolution Day on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, at the Damiano Center in Duluth.
During the event, individuals with outstanding warrants had the opportunity to speak with a public defender or prosecutor, arrange to pay outstanding fines, or have a hearing before a Sixth Judicial District judge regarding their warrants. In addition to local judges and court staff, representatives from the Sixth District Public Defender’s Office, the Duluth City Attorney’s Office, St. Louis County Probation, the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, and the Driver Diversion Program were on site during the event.
The event intended to simplify the process of resolving an outstanding warrant, with the goal of helping people avoid being arrested or detained for having an outstanding warrant. Local justice partners made their best efforts to resolve an individual’s case or cases during the event.
South St. Louis County Veterans Court Earns Final Approval
St. Louis County District Court has been holding a special court calendar for veterans since early 2014, based on a recommendation from the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans. The effort proved successful, as court and county officials began collaborating with community organizations to provide greater support to veterans in the court system. In 2016, court and county officials began taking steps to formalize this effort into a recognized veterans treatment court program, including meeting national standards and best practices, and ensuring the judges and staff involved in the program have received the necessary training.
In February 2018, the Minnesota Judicial Council, the policymaking body of the Minnesota Judicial Branch, gave formal approval to officially launch the South St. Louis County Veterans Treatment Court.
The program provides veterans in the criminal justice system with the opportunity to change their life circumstances, become alcohol and drug free, and get treatment for mental health issues. This is accomplished through comprehensive assessment and treatment, intensive supervision, random drug and breath testing, regular court appearances, and the use of immediate sanctions and incentives. The program works in partnership with St. Louis County, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other organizations that support veterans and veterans’ families. In addition, volunteer veteran mentors help guide and support participants through the program and their recovery.
The goal of the program is to ensure veterans receive the help and assistance they are owed, receive treatment for their chemical and mental health issues, and leave the program sober, law-abiding, and in a stable living situation. The program accepts veterans charged with misdemeanors and felonies where the defendant is screened as a high-risk to reoffend and in high-need of treatment or services. The program is divided into five phases. Movement through phases is based on accomplishment of goals and requirements. Advancement through the phases results in reduced responsibilities and, ultimately, graduation from the program.
An estimated 17,000 veterans reside in St. Louis County, including 10,000 veterans in south St. Louis County.