MINOT — Judy Mattson’s last day as Municipal Clerk of Court is at the end of this month. She handed down her own sentence for retirement, looking forward to spending time with her grandchildren, hiking, and kayaking.
“No more working, just playing,” laughed Mattson. “My husband and I do a lot of camping and fishing.”
Mattson will be missed at Municipal Court where she has seen thousands of cases go before a judge. Missed not just by court staff and law enforcement, but also by those who make appearances in court. She has spent time with those down on their luck and with others a bit cantankerous.
“Sometimes they just need somebody to talk to. Even if you can’t change things for them, they like to be able to tell their story and be heard,” said Mattson.
Mattson has witnessed both the good and the bad in people appearing in Municipal Court where most cases involve such things as driving under suspension, petty theft, traffic violations, and failure to pay fines. Some individuals realize their mistake and take the necessary steps to correct them. Others do not or cannot.
“Those that get their driver’s license suspended and get it back, don’t want to do that again,” said Mattson. “Others don’t understand or just don’t care. You feel bad for them because you see them over and over again, always the same thing.”
It was in 2011 when Mattson signed on with the Minot Police Department as an administrative clerk. Four years later she rose to the position of Municipal Clerk of Court. Her time included when the impact of an oil boom was evident in Minot, adding to the workload of the court.
“It wasn’t a moment, just many moments during the oil boom,” stated Mattson. “We had some interesting people, to say the least. This is a real interesting job, because no two days are ever the same.”
Municipal Court is conducted four days a week, Monday through Thursday. Those appearing are given a date to do so by a police officer at the time a citation is issued. Mattson tracks appearances, payments of fines, and shuffles the schedule when necessary.
“If they have to move a court date, we can do that,” said Mattson. “Some people come in to ask questions, others to make payments.”
Mattson says the four day a week schedule for Municipal Court works very well. It allows her and her assistants a day for the time needed to keep the court running as smooth as possible.
“We can make sure everything is done for the week we just went through and for the week coming up,” explained Mattson “We get everything scheduled and ready to go. That's a big deal.”
A big change during Mattson’s time as clerk of court was a switch to extensive use of computers.
“When I first started it was all manual, did it as we went,” said Mattson. “Now we do all the paperwork as the judge is issuing the judgement, all electronic. That’s very nice to have.”
Her time at Municipal Court has had its share of challenges, such as when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the court completely for several weeks. That meant a scramble to re-schedule appearances once the court was prepared to resume.
While Municipal Court sees its share of domestic violence cases, to which Mattson says there are “always two sides,” there’s also the contrast of much friendlier appearances in the courtroom.
“We do weddings here too,” smiled Mattson. “Some of them I even sign as a witness. It really is kind of neat.”
Former Municipal Court Judge Mark Rasmussen said he had the pleasure of working with Mattson during several of his 36 years on the bench.
“I’d like to congratulate her on a job well done and wish her well in retirement,” said Rasmussen.
Current Municipal Court Judge Ashley Beall also had kind words for Mattson.
“She really been an invaluable resource for many years,” said Beall. “We’ll be sad to see her go.”
Mattson’s last day as clerk of court will be March 31. She has accrued vacation time to use until her official retirement day of May 1.