Derksen sworn in as deputy judge for small claims court

FORT FRANCES—The district now has three deputy small claims court judges after Fort Frances lawyer Wesley Derksen was sworn in Tuesday afternoon at the courthouse here.
Derksen was sworn in as a Superior Court deputy small claims court judge during a brief ceremony performed by senior regional Superior Court Justice John F. McCartney.
“I’m certainly pleased to be sworn in today [Tuesday],” Derksen said after the ceremony. “Any time you have a member of the local bar that can serve the local community, it’s very much beneficial to the community.
“We hope that we have judges that are committed to our community so that they actually become part of the community, rather than in the long run we end up getting serviced from outside of the community, which happens sometimes,” he added.
Derksen explained his appointment will aid with overseeing Superior Court small claims cases here.
“There have been deputy small claims court judges here on an ongoing basis. There’s at least two others in the community that serve as deputy small claims court judges,” said Derksen, referring to Charlie Watt and Clare Brunetta.
“And of course, if they have conflicts, there are other small claims court judges from out of town to fill that role,” he added. “Because it’s a rather small community, sometimes the existing small claims court judges have conflicts.
“What will happen now is given that I’ve been appointed, hopefully that will alleviate the need to have as many people come in from outside,” noted Derksen.
He added being a deputy small claims court judge won’t have much of an impact on his law practice, and it’s likely he’ll only be called upon as a deputy judge on an “as needed basis,” which he estimated may only be a couple of times a month.
During the brief ceremony, Justice McCartney noted small claims court is “a very important part of our justice system.”
He said more than 50 percent of Superior Court cases are heard in small claims court, adding that when he started out as a judge, small claims court cases only could involve claims up to $400.
That number has since risen to $10,000.
“I know you’re going to enjoy the job,” Justice McCartney said to Derksen. “It’s the only time in your career you’re going to be able to hold up your hand and lawyers will stop talking.”