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Courts to cut hours

Stevens County District Court Judge Gerald Seibel (left) and 8th Judicial District Chief Judge Paul Nelson speak to the Stevens County Citizens/County Board Facilities Project Advisory Committee this spring. Nelson, in a July 19 letter, announced court administration hours reductions in response to tightening budgets.

Court administration in Stevens County District Court will close early on Fridays beginning in July due to budget cuts affecting the entire judicial district.

Eighth Judicial District Chief Judge Paul Nelson made the announcement in a July 19 letter.

Beginning Friday, July 10, court administration offices in the 13 counties of the Eighth Judicial District will close at 2 p.m. for public business on Friday afternoons.

This reduction in public hours reflects a mandatory reduction in court staff hours from 40 hours per week to 37.5 hours per week as a result of budget cuts in the Eighth Judicial District, Anderson stated.

Courtroom activities will continue through the end of Friday's workday, which typically ends at 4:30 p.m. in most of the thirteen counties.

The Eighth Judicial District counties are Stevens, Big Stone, Chippewa, Grant, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Meeker, Pope, Renville, Swift, Traverse, Wilkin and Yellow Medicine.

The judicial district faces a reduced operating budget as a result of judicial branch budget reallocations and legislative budget reductions, Nelson stated.

Besides reducing court staff hours and salaries by 6.25 percent, three of the 54 non-exempt employees in the district were laid off in April and a number of vacant positions have been eliminated. Several judicial law clerk and court reporter positions remain unfilled, he stated.

Local county court administrators will make arrangements with law enforcement officials for emergency matters that must be handled on Friday afternoons.