MINOT, N.D. — Remodeling at a North Dakota jail has made it difficult for defense attorneys to meet with clients, holding up some court cases.
Sheriff Bob Barnard said the situation at the Ward County Jail in Minot is temporary, but that it’s caused some issues. He told the Minot Daily News that only one visitation room is available until more progress is made in construction.
Thirteen appointment slots are available for the room on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“I don’t like it,” North Central District Court Judge Doug Mattson said of the situation. “. They need to take this as a matter that needs to be addressed from a system standpoint.”
Defense attorney Ashley Gulke said scheduling problems often push her visits with clients to Sundays or evenings, which cuts into her family time.
Other defense attorneys are in agreement with Gulke, saying they’re competing with other lawyers and law enforcement officials to use the meeting room.
“A lawyer’s inability to talk to a client slows down the whole system,” said attorney Raissa Carpenter. “Clients feel confused and uninformed about what is happening in court.”
Barnard said the remodeling is expected to be completed in August. But he anticipates that there will be more meeting rooms available for the lawyers and their clients in June or July.
Barnard said once the project is finished the jail will have a window where attorneys and their clients will meet.
Ward County Jail had 102 people incarcerated last week. It can accommodate up to 113 people.
Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com