M E M O
TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Gerhard Raedeke
Expedited Hearing of Proposed Rules 8.6 and 8.7, N.D.R.Ct.
At the last meeting, the Committee approved proposals for several new rules from the Family Law Task Force. The Committee approved a new Rule 8.6, N.D.R.Ct., which governs custody investigators, and a new Rule 8.7, N.D.R.Ct., which governs law-trained guardians ad litem. When the amendments were approved, it was assumed they would be included in the "annual rules package," submitted to the Supreme Court.
The Family Law Task Force has now requested expedited hearing of its proposals. Normally, the Joint Procedure Committee petitions the Supreme Court for rule amendments once a year in its "annual rules package," with an effective date of March 1. Amendments are processed once a year 1) for organizational purposes; 2) to avoid duplicative processing work; 3) to make it easier for practitioners to stay informed and current by avoiding the adoption of unpublished piece meal amendments; and 4) to coincide with the annual publication of the rules volume in February.
The Family Law Task Force is not asking for an earlier effective date, but rather an expedited hearing. The effective date would remain as March 1, 2000. The Family Law Task Force would like the new rules submitted to the Court before the "annual rules package" for the purpose of providing more time between the date of adoption and the effective date. The lag time would be used for training people to serve as custody investigators and guardians ad litem.
At the last meeting, the Committee expressed concern about how training would be completed before the effective date of the new rules, and whether there would be qualified custody investigators and guardians ad litem under the requirements of the proposals. See Minutes of the Joint Procedure Comm. 9-10, 12 (Sept. 24-25, 1998).
In response to its concerns, the Committee amended the proposals. The qualifications for a custody investigator were made a preference instead of a requirement. As amended, Rule 8.6 suggests a custody investigator have an associate degree or 5 years experience, and 18 hours of specialized custody investigation training. However, a judge has discretion who is appointed as a custody investigator.
At the last meeting, the Committee also discussed how attorneys would be able to get the required guardian ad litem training completed before the effective date of the rule. Under proposed Rule 8.7, to be eligible for appointment as a guardian ad litem, an attorney must have completed 18 hours of guardian ad litem training. In response to its concerns, the Committee amended the rule to allow the initial 18 hours to have been obtained anytime. The Committee thought most current guardians ad litem would meet the initial 18 hour training requirement.
Given the amendments of the Committee is it necessary to expedite the hearing of Rule 8.6 and 8.7, N.D.R.Ct., to provide time for training between the date of their adoption and their effective date? Another option would be for the North Dakota State Bar Association to simply publish notice of the training requirements and the fact that the rules are in the process of being promulgated effective March 1, 2000.
What are the Committee's instructions?