Judge Daniel Hovland, Class of '79, Assists Tucson District Court with Heavy Caseloads
by Retha Colclasure
We don`t think about it much, but North Dakota is a border state. However, this state doesn`t experience nearly as big of a problem with illegal immigration as the states that border Mexico.
One of those states, Arizona, is having a hard time keeping up with the problem in their court system. So, they`re calling for any federal judge who can come help to do so.
The Tucson district is one of the busiest federal court districts in the country. They were already swamped and asking for help in 2010.
Then, in January, Chief Judge John Roll was murdered in a shooting that also injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Since then, two judges from North Dakota have gone to help cover the caseload.
Judge Daniel Hovland had already planned to go to Tucson for a week in early February this year to help with the massive caseload that district court is experiencing.
"They schedule sentencings every 15 minutes. They bring 250 to 300 illegal aliens to the courthouse every morning," explained Hovland. "They`re transported from a private correctional facility in Florence, Arizona, the correctional center of America."
Then, just weeks before his scheduled trip, Chief Judge John Roll was murdered. That made the need for visiting judges even greater.
North Dakota`s U.S. District Court Senior Judge Patrick Conmy said: "The sheer volume and numbers of people are almost unbelievable. We sentenced 55 people on felony convictions during the week we were there. Fifty-five!"
There are four full-time judges that can handle felony sentencings in Tucson, and they all have a similar caseload.
"In any given week they`re sentencing several thousands of people there," added Hovland
And, as these judges discovered, that`s just the tip of the iceberg.
Tomorrow night we`ll tell you what kind of experiences Judge Conmy and Judge Hovland had while working in Arizona and what they have to say about using the court system to address illegal immigration.