The North Dakota Commission to Study Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts has presented its final report on its study concerning fairness in the state's justice system to Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley on Tuesday.
The study, finished in July, concluded that more work needs to be done to ensure fairness in the justice system, including finding ways to make juries more diverse, expanding interpreter services and continuing to look at why minorities are overrepresented in the prison system and underrepresented as attorneys and court personnel.
The commission, created by a resolution in October 2009 by Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle, was tasked with studying perceptions of bias and areas where the system may be unfair to minorities.
The study included numerous surveys and listening sessions, along with analysis of data from the court system and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The study concluded, in part, that there is a perception among people in the state, especially minorities, that the court system is biased.
The commission is made up of judges, attorneys, court personnel, representatives of social service and legal agencies and corrections authorities from across the state. They made numerous recommendations for changes in the system based on the study and plant to work to implement the changes.
Eight members of the commission, including co-chairs Supreme Court Justice Carol Ronning Kapsner and Northeast District Judge Donovan Foughty, presented the report to Wrigley on Tuesday. Wrigley indicated he has begun reading the report and was impressed with its depth.
Wrigley pledged assistance from the executive branch in implementing changes in the system to better serve the entire population of the state.