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Judge's administrative order discussed

Mon, Jul 7th, 2014
Posted in All Government

By Karen Reisner

Fillmore County Attorney Brett Corson presented information at the county board’s July 1 meeting concerning Third Judicial District’s Chief Judge Jeffrey Thompson’s administrative order (October, 2013). The order requires a verbatim transcript of audio and video recordings to be prepared, served, and filed to be accepted as evidence.

Corson said the order applied to any case that goes to trial or a hearing. He maintained that this will be a substantial cost for the Sheriff’s and/or Attorney’s Office. Sheriff Daryl Jensen explained that during the preparation of a case all statements are recorded digitally and uploaded to the record management system. DVDs are provided to the defense. His office no longer has the equipment to transcribe, so the work would probably have to be out-sourced.

Corson felt transcripts should only be required if the tapes are not audible. Thompson, in his order, suggests some recordings are hard to discern and that it is not “the Court Recorder’s responsibility to determine the content of audio and video recordings.”

Corson argues that recordings are more reliable than transcripts which may contain transcription errors. If a portion of a recording is not clearly audible, Corson maintains that a jury rather than the person doing the transcribing should rely upon what they believe to be the content, thereby being the fact finder.

A revised administrative order allows the Court to exercise some discretion. Corson said most of the county attorneys in the district are trying to get the order changed. He added that we want it to be a good process, but that we don’t know if transcripts help in that end.

Commissioner Duane Bakke asked if the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) or the state legislature should get involved? Commissioner Tom Kaase noted that in his experience transcripts are often not accurate. Corson acknowledged that discussing the issue at other levels is a good idea.

Meth Lab

Corson noted that the county ordinance allows for clean-up costs of clandestine labs to be assessed against the property. He reported that there is a rural property where an out building contained used anhydrous containers and empty Coleman fuel containers. Also, a defendant had indicated that the manufacture of methamphetamine had occurred at this site.

Brenda Pohlman, Public Health, had filed documents identifying the property as a potential clandestine lab. The next step is to have the property tested for chemicals. West Central Environmental Consultants had the low bid to do the testing. Their bid on a time and material basis was at a cost not to exceed $1,260.

Corson noted that the property owner had indicated he was willing to pay for the testing. The low bid for testing was accepted with the understanding that a bill would be sent to the property owner. If the owner does not pay the bill, the county will pay the bill and assess the cost against the property.

Another clandestine lab has been reported recently that was mobile. The property owner may not have been aware of what was happening on his property. Corson said they have to figure out the right way to handle it to be fair to the property owner. He said land owners need to be more aware, too.

Other Business In Brief

•Veterans Service Officer Jason Marquardt reported on the National Veterans’ Conference which he had attended in Grand Rapids, Mich. He reported that they didn’t discuss the current veterans health debuckle that has been in the news.

Burial allowances ($300) for veterans come directly to the widow or widower now without application. He explained that if the burial is in a state cemetery, the plot and marker is free. A Minnesotan, Jim Golgart of LeSueur County was elected president of the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers.

Marquardt reported that there was a free legal clinic for veterans last week where attorneys from the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans helped with veteran legal matters. He said this a free service and that they will have another free clinic in the spring.

•An updated fee schedule for all departments was approved as recommended by the Finance Committee.

•Kaase wanted board members to think about having departments develop a five to 10 year plan. Each department could look at their goals and objectives. He said there should be some resources from AMC to help facilitate plans.

•A quote for SQL server license from SHI (state contract) in the amount of $805 was approved for the attorneys office.

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