Members Present: Hon. M. Richard Geiger, Chair; Hon. Ronald Hilden (via ITV); Hon. Carol
Ronning Kapsner; Kurt Schmidt; Gladys Schmitt; Judy Slotto-Susie (via
ITV); and Jeanne Walstad.
Members Absent: Hon. John. T. Paulson and Mike Sandal, Staff
Others Present: Sally Holewa, Ex Officio Renee Barnaby, Scribe
Chair Geiger called the meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. and indicated Mike Sandal could not be at the
meeting because he was out of the office on family medical leave. He directed the members'
attention to the minutes of May 26, 2005. It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Kurt
Schmidt, to approve the May 26, 2005 minutes with the minor correction. The motion carried.
Chair Geiger then directed members' attention to the minutes of November 7, 2005. It was moved
by Gladys Schmitt, seconded by Justice Kapsner, to approve the November 7, 2005 minutes.
The motion carried.
Policy on Employee Attendance at Retirement Seminars (Policy 102, Leave)
Chair Geiger drew the members’ attention to the draft revisions to Policy 102 regarding employee
attendance at retirement seminars. The attached proposal was developed to provide consistency in
applying the protocol of procedures for allowing staff to attend pre-retirement seminars. It was
moved by Jeanne Walstad, seconded by Justice Kapsner, that the proposed language in
Section 7c be adopted.
Sally Holewa explained that each district currently handles it differently so we need to have a
consistent policy. Some districts are paying the registration fee and travel costs associated with the
session, as well as providing time off from work to attend the session, while others are not paying
anything. She said retirement is a mandatory benefit so it was her thought that we should pay for
Kurt Schmidt said in reference to the closing of the first sentence where it states “if they have
reached the rule of 85 or are within 3 years of retirement,” he suggested the word “anticipated” be
inserted before “retirement.” He said a person may attend the seminar and find out they cannot
afford to retire.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Jeanne Walstad, to amend the last phrase of
the first sentence from “if they have reached the rule of 85 or are within 3 years of retirement”
to “within three years before reaching the rule of 85 or before a planned retirement.”
Jeanne Walstad suggested, for consistency purposes, the second sentence should read: “An
employee must attend the session closest to the employee’s place of employment.” She also
suggested the last sentence read: “An employee is encouraged to take advantage of the ND PERS
pre-retirement web cast when available.” There was a consensus of the group to make the
changes to be consistent with the singular form.
The motion carried.
Kurt Schmidt questioned whether the language in the last sentence referring to the ND PERS web
cast should be used. Justice Kapsner suggested inserting the phrase “or other technologies” after
the word “web cast.”
It was moved by Kurt Schmidt, seconded by Gladys Schmitt, to strike the last sentence in
Section 7c. The motion carried.
Mr. Schmidt referred the members to the third sentence in Section 7c: “Any additional sessions, or
any private session, is at the employee’s own expense and time.” He suggested the words “if
attended” should be added after the phrase “or any private session.”
Gladys Schmitt commented it is redundant because an employee can only attend one session, so if
they attend another one, the employee would have to pay for it.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Judy Susie, that the third sentence of Section
7c be modified as follows: “An employee’s attendance at any additional sessions, or any
private session, is at the employee’s own expense and time.” The motion carried.
Paragraph 7c shall read as follows with the modifications: “An employee may attend one Public
Employees Retirement System (PERS) pre-retirement session, at court expense, within 3 years
before reaching the rule of 85 or before a planned retirement. An employee must attend the session
closest to the employee’s place of employment. An employee’s attendance at any additional
sessions, or any private session, is at the employee’s own expense and time.”
The motion to adopt Section 7c, as amended, carried unanimously and will be forwarded to
the Supreme Court for consideration.
Chair Geiger drew attention to a letter from David Lee to Chief Justice VandeWalle that had been
referred to the Board for consideration. Policy 118 sets forth the Supreme Court’s method of filling
vacancies including preferences for veterans and exceptions. It is the exceptions that Mr. Lee takes
objection to and Jim Ganje has provided an analysis of that.
Jeanne Walstad indicated that although she generally agrees the Court is under no obligation, she
suggested the Board look at expanding the policy to recognize spouses of veterans and deceased
veterans. She said many of the expanded preferences have been added within the last few years
because of the activities global wide. The State has recently expanded its preferences to recognize
It was moved by Jeanne Walstad, seconded by Kurt Schmidt, to have Mike Sandal study other
jurisdictions, including a multi-state area and the federal government, on the degree of
defining veterans’ preferences in the court system and what exceptions are made. The motion
Professional Certifications (Policy 103, Employee Compensation)
Chair Geiger referred the members to the proposed addition to Policy 103 to establish criteria to
address professional certifications in the event there are future applications from other job
It was moved by Gladys Schmitt, seconded by Justice Kapsner, to adopt the revisions to Policy
103 concerning Professional Certifications (Section C4).
Kurt Schmidt indicted he did not like the language as written. The first sentence in Section 4 refers
to duties and responsibilities, not certification. He further indicated there are several reporters who
are not certified that are currently doing realtime.
Chair Geiger responded that even though a reporter is doing realtime reporting, there is nothing in
the court reporter’s class specification that requires them to, and therefore, it would not be their duty
and responsibility. It is their duty and responsibility to do stenographic reporting and keep the
record but not necessarily through realtime reporting.
Mr. Schmidt said the first paragraph also talks about being assigned to a position. Realtime is not
assigned to a reporter, they are volunteering to do it and volunteering to get the certification which
means it will be assigned, but they are, in fact, volunteering for the assignment. He wondered how
you define new duties and responsibilities.
Judy Susie commented with regard to the first sentence where it refers to “an employee who is
newly required to achieve,” she said it sounds as if they would be required to do it.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Jeanne Walstad, to amend the introductory
paragraph to read as follows: “An employee who achieves and maintains a nationally
recognized professional certification may be eligible for a one-step increase based upon the
following criteria:”. The motion carried.
In response to a question from Kurt Schmidt as to whether the organizations that certify realtime
reporters were national or international, Justice Kapsner said it was her understanding that they are
Kurt Schmidt inquired whether corporate certifications would also be recognized such as IBM or
Microsoft. It was Sally Holewa’s thought that we would be looking for an industry recognized
certification rather than the corporation.
Jeanne Walstad suggested using the words “court-approved professional certification.”
Sally Holewa said the intent is for the Court, as a business entity, to decide if it is an organizational
need. If an employee gets a certification and their supervisor will not recognize it, they would have
the grievance process to bring it back to this Board.
Chair Geiger presumed that every industry or professional organization has some method of
certifying the people that work within the occupation and profession.
Kurt Schmidt referred the Board to paragraph 4(b), “The requisite certification is governed by a
nationally recognized professional association...”. He wondered if the term "association" excludes
certification by others such as Microsoft or IBM. There is no certification board for IT staff. It is
done by product. He said he interprets "association" to mean you have to pay dues and belong or
it will not be recognized.
It was suggested that the words “professional association” be changed to “entity” or “industry
Justice Kapsner said the intent is to recognize those certifications that actually relate to an enhanced
work performance so it would tend to be broadly interpreted.
Chair Geiger believes the term "association" would be limited to professional associations.
Mr. Schmidt said for example, in the computer industry, there is an A+ certification, which is given
out by a corporation. It is a baseline certification for hardware. To work on hardware, you would
need that A+ certification, but it is not an organization or association. They are certifications
prompted by individual organizations.
In response to a question from Jeanne Walstad asking if it requires continuing education to maintain
certifications, Kurt said typically no additional training would be required because products change
every two to four years so you end up doing the certification in the new version of the product.
In response to a question from Judy Susie as to who the decision-making body would be to
determine whether an association is accepted, Chair Geiger said under 4(e), the chief justice
approves it however 4(d) states the professional certification is required due to an organizational
need or other requirement. He assumes it would fall to the state court administrator to make the
With regard to paragraph 4(b), Kurt Schmidt questioned whether professional certification should
be required prior to the performance of work. He said even though they are not doing it for the
public, we currently have court reporters that are doing realtime and are not certified. It says the
requisite certification is governed by a nationally recognized professional association, and the
professional certification is generally required prior to the performance of work.
Sally Holewa interprets the phrase “generally required prior to the performance of work” as meaning
the industry standard. Mr. Schmidt replied it is not necessarily the industry standard because there
are fewer certified project managers than there are non-certified project managers.
Jeanne Walstad said if the certification requires continuing education and training to maintain the
level of skills, it should be recognized, and unless you satisfy all five elements, (a) through (e), it
does not apply.
Kurt Schmidt suggested the phrase in 4(b), “performance of the work," be changed to “receiving the
increase, if granted.” He said to get the certification, you have to do the work to become proficient,
but you cannot do the work until you have the certification.
With regard to paragraph 4(d), Judy Susie was concerned with the phase “or other requirements.”
She feels it is too vague and may be difficult for the decision-making authority to explain why an
employee does not have the sufficient requirements.
Sally Holewa noted paragraph (d) is essential. Any request would have to be explicitly tied to a
specific organizational goal, and the employee would have to show how their certification is going
to advance the organization.
In response to a question from Chair Geiger as to whether the word “goal” should be inserted after
the words “organizational need,” Ms. Holewa suggested either the word “goal” or “need” would be
appropriate, however, she would like to hear Mr. Sandal’s intent behind the words “other
requirements” before expanding on it.
It was moved by Kurt Schmidt to drop the words “and the professional certification is
generally required prior to the performance of the work” from paragraph 4(b) and change the
word “association” to “organization” in the same paragraph. The motion died for a lack of
Justice Kapsner briefly discussed a situation that arose regarding determining the salary of a
promoted employee. The rule requires that the new pay grade most closely represent a 5% increase.
If the pay grade that most closely represented a 5% increase was less than a 5% increase, the Court
questioned whether that was the intended result of this rule. The Court determined it should be
whichever pay grade most closely represented the 5% increase, whether it was above or below, but
suggested the policy be sent to the Personnel Policy Board for review. If an amendment is desired,
two options have been proposed. Option 1 provides for a 10% increase without a probationary
increase, and Option 2 provides for a 5% increase with a probationary increase.
It was moved by Jeanne Walstad that the Board consider Option 1, a 10% increase. The
motion died for a lack of a second.
It was moved by Jeanne Walstad, seconded by Kurt Schmidt, that the Board consider Option
Ms. Walstad stated when an individual receives a promotion, there is a learning curve as well as
added responsibility. She finds it ironic that the employee would receive the same adjustment as
if they received a step increase. She further explained that until 1995, the Court gave a 10% salary
increase for promotions. A situation arose where an individual was promoted and received a 10%
increase, which made that person’s salary higher than an individual that was already in that position.
The Board then dropped from 10% to 5% making it the same increase we receive for so many other
aspects of employment. If we are not in a position to consider the 10%, she suggested language be
added so that it is at least a 5% increase.
Sally Holewa said from a management standpoint, she likes Option 2 because when you give
someone a promotion, it is nice to put that person on probation. Probation tends to carry negative
connotations but it should not. If there is no probationary period and the promoted employee is not
working out, the alternative is discipline and that has a negative effect on people willing to take a
gamble on a promotion. She said she does not have a preference on the actual amount of the
adjustment, however, it is better to use the words “step increase” rather than specifying an amount
otherwise you end up with people falling between the steps.
Ms. Walstad said under Option 2, a promoted employee would receive close to a 5% increase, and
then after the probationary period, they would receive a one-step increase so they are receiving
Justice Kapsner said she likes the approach but would be concerned about our ability to pay two
With the consent of the second, the motion was withdrawn.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Jeanne Walstad, to modify Option 1, 4(b) to
read: "The promoted employee shall receive a salary increase to the step in the new pay grade
which represents at least a 5% increase or an increase to the minimum of the new pay grade,
whichever is greater. A promoted employee shall not be eligible for a probationary increase."
Kurt Schmidt stated he likes the idea of putting the newly promoted employee on probation. It
opens up other alternatives for helping out in the new position.
It was moved by Kurt Schmidt, seconded by Judy Susie, to change the last sentence under
Option 1, 4(b) to read, "A promoted employee shall be on a probationary status at the
discretion of the hiring authority but shall not be eligible for a probationary increase." The
Justice Kapsner said she generally supports Mr. Schmidt’s motion but suggested we look at it more
globally to see what other changes would be necessary and suggested Mr. Sandal review it for the
The motion carried to approve Option 1, as modified. The amendment will be sent to the
Supreme Court for consideration. Chair Geiger directed Mike Sandal to assemble additional
information to address the concerns raised on the last sentence for the next meeting.