Adam Hamm letter: Burdick campaign claim is misleading

My name is Adam Hamm. I was a prosecutor in Cass County from 1998-2001.

My name is Adam Hamm. I was a prosecutor in Cass County from 1998-2001. I had not planned on writing a letter to the editor regarding the 2002 election for Cass County state's attorney, but I now feel compelled to write to express my concern regarding a particular claim Birch Burdick has made in his campaign.

A campaign brochure distributed by Burdick lists his "leadership experience" and reads, "Started an innovative Juvenile Drug Court, working together with the courts and community agencies." This claim is misleading and false.

Here's the whole truth: In 1997, North Dakota Supreme Court Justice Mary Maring learned about the Juvenile Drug Court at a judicial conference in another state. She brought the idea back to North Dakota.

With the approval of North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle, a committee of 16 individuals from throughout North Dakota was formed to study the idea. This group, which first met on Oct. 29, 1998, did not include Burdick.

Eventually, with strong encouragement from East Central District Judge Ralph Erickson, Grand Forks and Cass counties were identified as pilot projects, and in May of 2000 the first Juvenile Drug Court was called to order.


Today, the Juvenile Drug Court Advisory Committee, a committee of the North Dakota Supreme Court, is made up of approximately 20 members, one of whom is Burdick. The committee meets three or four times per year, monitoring the projects' development. The committee continues to be chaired by Justice Maring.

Make no mistake -- the Juvenile Drug Court is a fine program for both the participants and our community. The 39 Cass County young people who have participated in Juvenile Drug Court over the past 2½ years have benefited from the program. Justice Maring and Judge Erickson, along with the other members of the planning and advisory committee, deserve credit for their work done on this project. However, Burdick's erroneous claim leaves the reader believing he actually started the Juvenile Drug Court. This claim is misleading and false.

Adam Hamm

Former assistant

Cass County state's attorney

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