Justice Carol Ronning Kapsner
Judge Gail Hagerty appeared via telephone
Judge Douglas Herman appeared via telephone
Judge John T. Paulson
The executive committee of the Judicial Conference met on August 17, 2007. Chair Maring called the meeting to order at 8:03 a.m.
Justice Kapsner made a motion to approve the minutes of the April 16, 2007 meeting. Seconded by Judge Hagerty. The motion carried and the minutes were approved.
The discussion then turned to the proposal to amend the Judicial Conference bylaws. Chair Maring explained that the Judicial Conference was unable to act on the proposed amendment at its June meeting because there was no quorum present. The members present at that meeting suggested the executive committee consider amending the definition of quorum. The list of surrogate judges keeps increasing and many do not attend the Judicial Conference.
Judge Hagerty suggested that an alternative to the current language of "a majority of district court judges and supreme court justices."
Justice Kapsner noted that judicial referees have an interest in decisions made by the Judicial Conference and are usually active participants at conferences. She suggested that a quorum should include referees as well as active judges and supreme court justices.
Chair Maring said only one referee and one municipal court judge are actually members of the Judicial Conference.
Judge Herman suggested that, rather than trying to define a quorum by role, it would be better to define it mathematically. He suggested 25 as the number of Judicial Conference members needed to form a quorum.
Justice Kapsner suggested 28 as a majority of all district court judges and justices. Judge Hagerty
responded that she favored 25 because it is a good representation and easy to remember.
Judge Herman moved and Judge Hagerty seconded that the executive committee recommend amending Article IV section D, line 1 to read:
"A quorum consists of twenty-five (25) members of the Judicial Conference."
The discussion then turned to how changing the number required for a quorum would effect future amendments under Article VI.
Justice Kapsner indicated concern about a quorum of less than the majority deciding a controversial issue and suggested that a majority should mean a majority vote of all judges and referee members present at the Judicial Conference.
Judge Hagerty suggested that a majority should be those present and voting. She said that a minimum of a ten-day notice is given to all members of the Judicial Conference, and they should be present if they are interested in an issue.
Judge Herman agreed noting that if a small majority were to pass a controversial issue, it is likely that the topic would come back at a later meeting as a motion to reconsider
Judge Hagerty moved and Judge Herman seconded that the executive committee recommend amending Article VI, line 2 to read:
"of the Judicial Conference by a majority vote."
Chair Maring then asked if there were any other parts of the bylaws that should be reviewed.
Justice Kapsner said that in Article II, paragraph 1, line 3, the phrase "association of district judges" was not a correct reference to the judges' association. Judge Herman suggested that since there is no longer an association of just district judges, the words "association of" should be struck. Judge Hagerty agreed, noting that the intent is for the district judges to elect their representatives to the Judicial Conference.
Justice Kapsner moved and Judge Hagerty seconded that the executive committee recommend amending Article II, paragraph 1, line 3 to read:
"and two district judges elected by the district judges."
The next agenda item was the matter of the new chair and the chair-elect. Because there was no quorum at the June Judicial Conference, the chairmanship could not be passed from Chair Maring to Chair-Elect Herman. Justice Maring urged all members of the executive committee to encourage their colleagues to attend the November Judicial Conference in order to reach a quorum.
The final agenda item was the agenda for the November Judicial Conference. The conference will begin at 9:30 a.m., which is a half-hour earlier than the normal start time. The first item on the agenda will be the business meeting. At that time, Judge Herman will be installed as Chair, and he will be responsible for overseeing the rest of the conference.
Chair Maring said that Judge Geiger is interested in the chair-elect position. Judge Hagerty said that at the business meeting, she will make a motion to nominate Judge Geiger as the chair-elect.
The draft agenda for the November conference was reviewed. Chair Maring said there is one open slot on the agenda on Monday, from 2:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. She said she and Lee Ann Barnhardt were struggling to come up with a program for that section of time. She suggested a diversity program might fit in that time slot and solicited suggestions from other members of the executive committee. Judge Herman suggested a program on equal treatment in the courts. Justice Kapsner suggested an open forum on jury issues. Chair Maring will follow-up on these suggestions.
At this point, both Judge Herman and Judge Hagerty asked to be excused from the meeting to attend to previously scheduled court business and the meeting was adjourned at 8:25 a.m.
Sally A. Holewa
Executive Secretary to the Judicial Conference