Present Judge Sonja Clapp, Chair via Phone Judge Todd Cresap via Phone Judge Jay Schmitz Robin Huseby via Phone Karen Kringlie via Phone Connie Portscheller via Phone Dale Rivard Bob Rutten Donna Wunderlich Lee Ann Johnson, DHS Shari Doe, DHS
Absent Scott Davis Judge David Reich
Guest Steve Sittingbear, ND Indian Affairs Commission
Staff Louis Hentzen Catherine Palsgraaf Lana Zimmerman (scribe)
Judge Clapp called the meeting to order. A motion was made by Connie Portscheller to
approve the December 14, 2012, minutes. The motion was seconded by Dale Rivard,
2013 CIP Annual Meeting - Washington D.C. - The 2013 CIP Annual Meeting is scheduled May
1-3, 2013, in Bethesda, Maryland. Mr. Hentzen shared with the committee that due to the
sequestration in Washington D.C., this meeting will still take place, however one of the items
coming from the sequestration is that the current grants for 2013 are all going to be reduced by
5%. The only grant affected is the Basic Grant, which is being used to fund the Guardian Ad
Litem administrative costs, which will be incorporated into the state general fund as soon as the
budget is approved. It is a requirement that there is one representative from each grant attending
the conference. Mr. Hentzen asked for a representative from the Children and Family Services
department attend the conference. Ms. Doe will notify Mr. Hentzen on who will represent their
department at the conference. Ms. Palsgraaf shared that the first day of the conference are
meetings specifically for CIP Directors. The second and third day are breakout sessions. Mr.
Hentzen and Ms. Palsgraaf will be attending the conference along with a representative from
Children and Family Services. Judge Clapp will notify Judge Reich to see if he would like to
participate as the representative from the education grant.
GAL Sub-Committee - Robin Huseby, chair. Ms. Huseby met with Brad Swenson and
discussed issues in regards to report writing, training, and evaluations. Ms. Huseby asked this
committee for advice on the next step for the GAL sub-committee. Mr. Rivard is a member of
the GAL sub-committee and stated there aren’t any problems or concerns that have been brought
to his attention.
Mr. Hentzen shared one issue is a conflict in rules with regards to the filing of the GAL reports.
The juvenile procedural rules state the reports need to be filed with juvenile court offices, but the
technology committee determined that all reports and documents are to be filed electronically
with the Clerk of Court.
Ms. Huseby asked if it is reasonable to ask a lay GAL to e-file a report. Ms. Wunderlich shared
that the rule excludes people who are incarcerated or are pro-se litigants. The consensus was that
everyone including sheriff’s offices, community service providers, and lay GAL’s.
Mr. Swenson is meeting with the GAL’s about compliance. Ms. Huseby will discuss the
concerns with Mr. Swenson. Ms. Huseby asked if there has been issues in Fargo with report
writing. Ms. Kringlie stated GAL’s don’t routinely write reports. Reports are usually submitted
after the trial. In other counties, reports are submitted 5 days prior to the trial or the hearing
begins. Judge Schmitz shared the SE district are small counties with small volumes, but the
reports are submitted 3-5 days before the hearing. It is not an issue in the small volume counties.
Ms. Portscheller shared they routinely receive the reports ahead of time, but they come directly to
the referee or to the juvenile court office.
Judge Schmitz likes the juvenile court knowing where and who to distribute the report to. Ms.
Wunderlich’s concern is the area of the clerks in juvenile court. They aren’t familiar with all of
the workings of juvenile court, so they are more likely to accept what documents are sent in, even
if they aren’t in the proper format or aren’t exactly what the juvenile court might be looking for.
Judge Schmitz shared that distribution being the most important. From a judges aspect, he isn’t
likely to look at the report until the day before. The main concern is going into a courtroom and
finding out that one of the parents wasn’t aware of the hearing. He likes the juvenile office
distributing the report to the attorneys and to social services who will in turn discuss it with the
Ms. Kringlie shared since the implementation of Odyssey, if the report is mailed to the juvenile
office and aren’t e-filed, and if the guardian submits it an hour before the hearing, there is no
opportunity to serve people. Ms. Palsgraaf shared the sub-committee may want to consider looking at Rule 17 and getting a
little more specific with some of the issues.
Mr. Hentzen shared the GAL manual does not specifically address the time frame. GAL’s are
directed in their training’s to file within 5 days of the hearing. Judge Clapp stated if it is
incorporated into the order appointing them, it is an order of the court. It is in the order after the
shelter care hearing where the GAL is appointed, the hearing is set, and the order be submitted 5
days in advance. The GAL sub-committee could work on some recommended standard language
for orders directing them. Judge Racek has designed a form to be utilized statewide, but is not
finalized. Mr. Rivard asked if the sub-committee could take a look at the proposed order. Ms.
Kringlie will forward the form to Ms. Huseby along with Mr. Swenson’s comments for the GAL
ICWA Sub-Committee - Connie Portscheller, chair. The ICWA sub-committee has met
twice since the last Court Improvement meeting. At the December 18, 2012 meeting, Melanie
and Wynona from UND discussed the proposal they are working on for the audit perimeters. Ms.
Palsgraaf sent a sample ICWA case to Melanie and Wynona, which runs October 1, 2009
through September 30, 2010, to follow the federal year. A sample case started from removal
through adoption. There is always the question as to how to audit active efforts when there is
really no specific definition in North Dakota. After extensive discussion, it was finally decided
they will audit whether the order or findings say active efforts. The sample that was sent was a
native child. Once the TPR proceedings started, all of the references were active efforts. If the
order of the findings happen to list out what the active efforts were, they will be noted and the
sub-committee can decide if they want to look at the list and make recommendations.
There was a discussion of whether this audit should make any comparisons to what other states
are doing. The project really is auditing the findings, the court orders, and the court files.
Dale Rivard asked about the TPR. First it was reasonable efforts, and then it was active efforts.
Ms. Palsgraaf shared in this particular case, they knew from the beginning that it was a native
American child, because the mother wasn’t an enrolled member, but the child was enrolled. The
father was enrolled in a different tribe. Notice was sent to the mother’s tribe and not sent to the
father’s tribe. There are some tribes that determine their own eligibility, but some won’t allow
membership in more than one tribe. Mr. Rivard shared that there are some children that are
enrolled in Turtle Mountain as well as Spirit Lake and it may depend on the tribe, but both
parents should be notified. In regards to the QEW, it depends who prepares the order. Some
judges will go through some of the findings on who testified but they will only note only certain
people who testified. They also need to notify and let the judges know the need to make sure to
get the statement from the QEW. Melanie and Wynona asked if the QEW appeared and how do
they document if they actually attend the hearing. Documentation is very important when the
QEW attends the hearings.
Education Sub-Committee - Judge David Reich, chair. Ms. Palsgraaf updated the committee
on Education. The CIP Education grant co-sponsored the ICWA conference held February 20-23, 2013. Ms. Barnhardt is a member of the NASJE group who is working on ICWA training for
District Court Judges.
The on-Line Referee training has begun and is directly related to child deprivation and general
juvenile court issues. The training is held quarterly and through “Go To” meetings.
The Children and Family Services Conference will be held in July. CIP will be funding a couple
of the Plenary Sessions. The education grant will cover registration for the lay-GAL’s and court
November 2013 is the Judicial Conference. Ms. Barnhardt is looking for input from this
committee on child welfare topics that may be useful for the conference.
Ms. Barnhardt feels the need to look at the sub-committee membership and see if they are well
represented. She will connect with Judge Reich to accomplish this. If anyone would have any
comment, you may email Ms. Barnhardt.
As a new member of the CIP committee, Judge Schmitz volunteered to participate on the GAL
Data Collection Sub-Committee - Karen Kringlie, chair. Ms. Kringlie stated the sub-committee has not met and that they are in a holding pattern. They were ahead of the strategic
plan and that the statewide continuance report has been created. The wait is the Odyssey training
for the court schedulers to make sure they are selecting continuance or reset and that they are
selecting them based on the Odyssey definitions before the reports can be used to report back
data. Ms. Kringlie contacted Ms. Barnhardt and Ms. Dockter on the Odyssey trainings. They are
hoping to do it this spring or early summer, but until that training is delivered, the data that is
being collected would not be reliable. A report was run yesterday state wide and for our grant the
child dependency cases can see the number of continuances or court resets for both TPR’s and
child deprivation cases. The underlying reason is listed, but we can not move forward on a
statewide report that would actually present back to CIP until the training is finished. The dates
may have to be pushed back on the strategic plan for the statewide audit until the training is
A motion was made by Judge Schmitz to adjourn the meeting, motion seconded by Dale
Rivard, meeting adjourned.