Executive Committee North Dakota Judicial Conference
November 21, 2011
Bismarck, North Dakota
Present: Justice Carol Ronning Kapsner, Chair Justice Daniel Crothers Judge Richard Geiger Judge Patrick Weir
Absent: Judge Steven McCullough
Staff: Sally Holewa
The Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference met on November 21, 2011. Chair
Kapsner called the meeting to order at 9:20 a.m.
Chair Kapsner said there were 7 volunteers to fill a vacancy on the Pattern Jury Instruction
Commission. Judge Gail Hagerty volunteered, but later withdrew from consideration upon
discovering that she was not eligible due to the rule on term limits. The other volunteers were
Judge Thomas Merrick, Judge David Nelson, Judge Debbie Kleven, Judge Bruce Haskell, Judge
Steven Marquardt and Judge James Hovey. After further discussion, Justice Crothers moved that
Judge Nelson be appointed to the Commission. The motion was seconded by Judge Weir.
The discussion then turned to Judge McClintock’s suggestion that North Dakota establish a pro
se service center. Judge Geiger expressed support for the concept. He believes we are doing a
disservice to pro se litigants when they have a real grievance but end up walking away frustrated
because they cannot afford an attorney and they do not receive any assistance from the court.
Judge Weir expressed concern for the lack of assistance given to pro se litigants seeking a
domestic violence or disorderly conduct restraining order and suggested that the court should do
more in that area. He suggested that at a minimum, the clerks be directed to instruct litigants that
they need to be specific when they fill out the forms. Chair Kapsner suggested that a sentence be
added to the forms clearly instructing litigants to explain the who, what, why, where, and when
of each alleged incident.
Justice Crothers said the Court Services Administration Committee recently discussed amending
Rule 34 to allow domestic violence advocates to assist litigants with disorderly conduct
restraining orders, but the advocates were opposed to the proposal.
Justice Crothers stated that he is not in favor of forming a new committee within the Judicial
Conference to study the issue. He believes it can be handled by an already existing committee. It
was agreed that no new committee of the Judicial Conference should be formed for this issue.
Chair Kapsner said that several committees have already done work on this issue and suggested
that the next step should be to create a summary of what other work has already been done. It
was agreed that a summary would be written and presented to the membership at the next
Judicial Conference in June 2012.
There being no further business to come before the committee, the chair adjourned the meeting at
Sally Holewa Executive Secretary to the Judicial Conference