TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
DATE: April 11, 2014
RE: Rule 41, N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R., Access to Court Records
State Court Administrator Sally Holewa suggests that the committee revisit Admin. Rule 41 Section 5 relating to the privacy of domestic violence protection order and disorderly conduct restraining order proceedings. Ms. Holewa previously suggested an amendment designed to keep orders in these proceedings private when the petition was rejected on its face. The committee considered this proposal and the Court ultimately adopted a new paragraph (b)(6) under Section 5, which was based on Ms. Holewa's work.
The paragraph makes the following proceedings confidential: "domestic violence protection order and disorderly conduct restraining order cases in which the initial petition was dismissed by the court without further hearing."
The provision was designed to restrict access to information about summarily dismissed petitions. Yet, according to Ms. Holewa, this provision is being interpreted by court officials as restricting access to information from any domestic violence protection order or disorderly conduct restraining order proceeding in which no more than one hearing was held.
Ms. Holewa suggests such restrictions on access are too broad and that the provision should be amended to make it clear that it applies only to proceedings in which the petition was rejected on its face. Staff has prepared proposed amendments that attempt to carry out this suggestion. The draft amendments are attached.