Present: Judge Sonja Clapp, Chair Peter Welte Dennis Herbeck Cheryl Kulas David McGeary Connie Portscheller Paul Ronningen
Absent: Robin Huseby Judge Doug Mattson Judge Daniel Narum Judge David Reich
Staff: Louie Hentzen Lee Ann Barnhardt
Guests: Curt DeClue - Kate Harrison Consulting Theresa Snyder Cheryl Longfeather
Judge Clapp called the meeting to order. She asked for comments on the minutes from
March 14, 2008 meeting. Connie Portscheller moved to approve the minutes; Dave McGeary
seconded. Minutes approved.
At the Court Improvement Committee meeting on March 14, 2008, Louie Hentzen
informed this committee that a Request for Proposal would be sent out for the Data Collection
and Analysis Grant. The request was sent out to UND, NDSU, Minot State University,
Jamestown College, National Center for State Courts and also to Kate Harrison Consulting.
Two responses were received from Kate Harrison Consulting and the National Center for
State Courts. The contract was awarded to Kate Harrison Consulting, which will begin August 1,
Louie Hentzen introduced Curt DeClue a partner with Kate Harrison Consulting. Mr.
DeClue is an attorney, a former judge and is currently a federal master. He was presiding judge
for the 9th circuit in Indiana and also spends a lot of his time conducting consults for courts and
justice agencies around the country. Mr. DeClue has a great amount of experience in juvenile
court cases as well. Mr. DeClue is not employed by Kate Harrison; however, he and Kate came
together for contractual purposes to conduct this project.
Kate Harrison's group consist of analysts that have a great amount of experience not only
from the legal aspect, but also from the social welfare side as well. Kate Harrison Consulting
will be working with Louie and the Court Improvement committee lining out the details of the
project, the speed in which the committee would like to take and to set up a schedule of data to
Louie Hentzen asked the Committee members to discuss with Mr. DeClue the type of
data to be captured with regard to child welfare cases and with regards to the courts.
Report on Grants. Lee Ann Barnhardt has submitted the grant proposal, which was due June 30, 2008.
There is a change in the funding cycle for the grant request. In order to get the money allocated
to this committee, an application for two years of funding is completed at one time. This grant is
for fiscal year 2008-2009. Part of the monies will be distributed in October and next year's
monies will be distributed in December. Next year, the grant proposal will be for the year 2010.
Expenditures of the grant monies are for Kate Harrison Consulting, implementing a
quality assurance program and there will be some funds expended to keep the data collection on
An added item to the grant which impacts the ICWA sub-committee is the study of the
over representation of minorities in the child welfare system, which is similar to the delinquency
side, but to conduct it statewide to see the underlying causes of the Native American population
being so high in child welfare. Another proposal will be going out for this particular study,
which is due in December.
Louie Hentzen explained that North Dakota is the third lowest state to receive monies.
Other states that remain lower than North Dakota is the District of Columbia, Wyoming and on
occasion Vermont. The monies are distributed based on the number of children in the state.
Cheryl Kulas stated economic issues are a priority, which is supported by the
congressional delegation as an issue of reality especially in education. Certain limited rural
populations were given priority allocations due to the issues being experienced with over
Lee Ann Barnhardt informed the committee that Judge Foughty is working on putting
together a task force which will look at the economic issues and factors driving the representation
issues in the court system.
Louie Hentzen mentioned of establishing a quality assurance program for the courts and
monitoring the progress of child welfare cases. The quality assurance program will be
established with future grant monies.
ICWA Project Funding Proposal Lee Ann Barnhardt was approached by Jody Gillette and Cherl Longfeather to conduct
ICWA forums. After discussion, they felt the forums may not work out without having qualified
expert witnesses. They have developed a proposal to present to the Court Improvement
committee. This proposal will identify expert witnesses, and then provide the training for those
Money has been set aside in the grant for the forums, but can be rewritten to state that it's
not being used for forums, but as a training component.
Theresa Snyder stated statistically that 14 counties were involved with issues of Native
American children in 2007. However, there were a total of 157 new cases in ND that need
attention. She stated there are American Indian children in the following counties from Turtle
Mountain: Barnes, Bottineau, Burleigh, Cass, DJS, Grand Forks, Ramsey, Richland, Rollette,
Traill, Ward and Williams. Majority are from DJS, Grand Forks and Ward counties. Theresa
has been tracking the data for three years and it is usually Ward county where there is a large
amount. There were 56 times in the past year in the state of North Dakota where a new child
from that tribe entered care.
Cheryl Longfeather is currently the Research Director at United Tribes Technical College.
Prior to that she was a curriculum development specialist at the Native American Training
Institute and has a history of working with the Training Institute on child welfare issues.
Cheryl presented the proposal in two parts.
Part I is the identification and recruiting of potential qualified expert witnesses at the
tribal level and also in the major urban areas. Cheryl created a graph that shows the state
involvement and the tribal and county involvement as well. She has also projected this as a
potential ongoing project.
Standing Rock have already identified two qualified expert witnesses recruited by the
tribal counsel to serve as their expert witnesses. Standing Rock is conducting an ICWA 101
training as a pre-cursor to the qualified expert witness training, however they would like to
identify the people who are interested and proceed with training. Standing Rock will be funding
that training which will be held in the end of July.
Part II is to develop and co-host the training for the qualified expert witnesses training
which would begin in the late fall.
Dennis Herbeck asked how much money is requested?
Lee Ann answered $10,000, the same amount that is set aside to do the forums. Lee Ann
can amend the strategic plan and the budget. She will then shift the money to this project instead
of funding the forums.
Louie Hentzen asked if it is current year money?
Lee Ann Barnhardt answered the money is already in the budget. The money will need to
be dispersed by September 30, 2008. A suggestion would be to contract with the Native
American Training Institute for the ICWA 101 forums and proceed with a sub-contract with
Cheryl Longfeather as the facilitator. The proposal was written for Part I identifying and
recruiting the qualified expert witnesses which would be $5,000. Part II would be helping with
ICWA 101 forums on the reservations which would be $5,000.
Dennis Herbeck stated during the ICWA sub-committee meeting there was discussion on
payment of qualified expert witnesses. Peter Welte is going to ask for an Attorney Generals
opinion in regard to the payment of the qualified expert witnesses.
Lee Ann Barnhardt stated as to the ongoing training, she would be looking at adding this
to the Education Budget. This would be an appropriate use of funds as federal priorities which
include working with the tribes.
Dennis Herbeck made a motion that the Court Improvement Committee shift funding of
the $10,000 making the adjustments to utilize the funds to the Native American Training Institute
for training in the fall of the qualified expert witnesses.
After extensive discussion of the payment of the qualified expert witnesses, it was
decided that Connie Portscheller will look into the practices of other states to investigate their
processes. Peter Welte will check on the Attorney General's opinion as well.
Judge Clapp stated the motion that this committee is endorsing is a contract with the
Native American Training Institute to perform this function. Motion carried.
GAL Sub-Committee. - Dave McGeary, Chair. Dave reported the draft rule for
lay-GAL was presented to the Juvenile Policy Board on May 9, 2008. There were several
changes to the draft rule. Staff Attorney, Mike Hagburg will present the updated version to the
Juvenile Policy Board on August 8, 2008.
At the GAL sub-committee meeting on April 9, 2008 a motion was passed that addressed
the cost for administration to be paid out of general fund money as opposed to the court
improvement funds. There was a considerable amount of discussion on the role of the GAL sub-committee in terms of who really should be looking at the evaluation of the GAL program.
Judge Clapp stated the Court Services Committee met and discussed the draft rule for the
lay GAL that goes with the qualifications criteria for appointment, responsibilities, the review
board, complaints and code of conduct.
Louie approached Justice Kapsner, Chair of the Court Services Committee in regards to
proceeding with further meetings. The Court Services committee would like the GAL sub-committee to continue with discussions and make any further recommendations to them.
ICWA Sub-Committee. - Dennis Herbeck, chair. Dennis reported the sub-committee is working on a bench checklist that looks similar to the AFSA card.
Paul Ronningen stated he has requested an ICWA specialist to serve on his staff
full-time. The ICWA specialist will focus on serving as a liaison between the tribes and the IV-E
Education Sub-Committee. - Robin Huseby, chair. Lee Ann Barnhardt reported
Tara Muhlhauser, DHS, Pete Tunseth, UND Training Center and Lee Ann are conducting the
Children's Justice Symposium being held July 21-23, 2008 at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck.
Due to the free registration, there are over 400 individuals registered. Some of those registered
are: judges, referees, states attorneys, defense attorneys, social service providers and educators.
Lee Ann is very pleased with the level of faculty that have agreed to come to Bismarck for the
Lee Ann reported other ongoing projects are the child welfare workshops. These
workshops were planned annually although the grant states every other year. These will be
shifted to the Spring.
Paul Ronningen stated the Department of Human Services has completed the
CFSR review in April and the refugee federal audit in June. The plan now is to write a program
improvement plan to focus on CFSR and PIP. Paul suggested having a 5 year plan starting June
Lee Ann stated the feds want this committee to look at the PIP and try to run the
grants parallel or merge the two together. A decision hasn't been made.
Data Collection and Analysis Sub-Committee. - Paul, Chair. Paul Ronningen
reported that Louie Hentzen, Lee Ann Barnhardt and himself developed an RFP, which was
awarded to the Kate Harrison Consulting Firm.
Curt DeClue along with Kate Harrison will focus in on understanding the data to collect
and develop criteria for the program to zero in on. He will also develop how to bridge the data
gap between the Department of Human Services and ND Courts.
Louie suggested to Kate Harrison and Curt DeClue that they are not restricted to the 9
core measures listed. If they would like to proceed on collecting data for any of the other
concerned areas, they may do so.
For the Good of the Order - Louie stated the Annual Court Improvement Conference
is scheduled October 14-15, 2008 in Bethesda, Maryland. Three individuals from this committee
are invited to go to this conference. Anyone interested will need to contact Louie.
A motion was made by Connie Portscheller to adjourn meeting and seconded by Dennis
Herbeck. Motion carried.
The next Court Improvement Committee Meeting is scheduled for November 14, 2008 at
10:00 a.m. at the Doublewood Inn, Bismarck.