Members Present: Hon. Gail Hagerty, Chair; Susan Hoffer; Petra Mandigo Hulm; Hon. Lisa
Fair McEvers; Rod Olson; Hon. Dale V. Sandstrom; and Ted Smith
Members Absent: Ross Munns
Others Present: Sally Holewa, ex offico Amy Klein, staff Kim Nelsen, guest Renee Barnaby, minutes
Chair Hagerty called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m.
Minutes It was moved by Justice Sandstrom, seconded by Petra Hulm, to approve the February 8,
2013, minutes.The motion carried.
Election of Chairperson Chair Hagerty opened the floor for nominations of chair and vice chair of the Board. Justice
Sandstrom nominated Judge McEvers and Judge McEvers nominated Justice Sandstrom. Both
nominations were declined. Judge McEvers stated it would be hard to run a meeting remotely
and suggested the chair should be located in Bismarck. It was moved by Justice Sandstrom,
seconded by Judge McEvers, to nominate Ted Smith as chair. The motion carried and Mr.
Smith will take over as chair at the next meeting. It was moved by Rod Olson, seconded by
Ted Smith, to nominate Judge Hagerty as vice chair. The motion carried.
Electronic Court Recorder Training and Certification Kim Nelsen joined the meeting to provide an update on the Digital Recording Workgroup. The
workgroup has been meeting since May 2011. They are currently drafting a manual specific to
North Dakota. She said initially the workgroup had indicated that there would be a test specific
to North Dakota. After doing some research, the workgroup is now considering more of hybrid
type plan where there would be training specific to North Dakota but we would not be writing
our own test. Writing out own test is too resource intense. A website and mentoring program are
also being developed. The judges and administrators will choose the mentors.
Justice Sandstrom noted the importance of the mentoring program to assure the quality of the
The workgroup will be meeting on March 22 and will provide the Board with a timeline at the
next Personnel Policy Board meeting. Chair Hagerty thanked Kim for appearing and the item
will be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.
[Kim Nelsen left the meeting]
Criminal Background Checks and Salary Administration Policies The proposed changes to Policy 180 Criminal Background Checks and Policy 151 Salary
Administration for Classified Employees were sent out to employees for comment. No
comments were received. It was moved by Petra Hulm, seconded by Justice Sandstrom, to
forward the policies to the Supreme Court for consideration. The motion carried.
Family and Medical Leave Act Policy Amy Klein stated in February 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule amending
the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Much of the material was from the 2010 National
Defense Authorization Act that was put in the rule as well as a couple of additional things which
are effective March 8. Those changes affected the military leave sections of the Court’s policy.
Under Section C.2, the qualifying exigency leave category of events has been extended to include
the care of a military member’s parent who is incapable of self care. Rest and recuperation was
also expanded from a maximum of five days to 15 days .Under Section C.3, changes were made
to the care for a covered service member. The word “aggravated” has been added to part of the
definition. Language was also added to include an injury or illness that manifested itself before
or after active duty. The definition of a covered service member was also changed to limit it to
veterans who are discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable at any time
during the five-year period prior to the first date the eligible employee takes FMLA leave to care
for the veteran.
Chair Hagerty stated she is a little concerned about the language on page 22. It refers to a serious
injury or illness that qualifies the veteran for certain benefits. She stated the words “certain
benefits” makes it unclear for someone who is looking for guidance. She suggested removing the
words “certain benefits” and adding another sentence or paragraph listing those benefits. Ted
Smith agreed it would be convenient to have the wording in the policy rather than sending the
It was moved by Judge McEvers, seconded by Ted Smith, to insert the four benefits into
the policy and send it out to employees for comment. The motion carried.
Professional Development Policy Petra Hulm stated she and Ross Munns have drafted proposed changes to Policy 123 in light of
the Board’s discussion at the February meeting.
Chair Hagerty suggested reorganizing the categories of the policy to track through the process
such as eligibility, approval, reimbursement levels, and then repayment. She also noted a minor
adjustment to the paragraph numbering under section C.10. Lifetime Cap The lifetime cap was set at $15,000. No changes were made.
Eligibility An eligibly section has been added that outlines how an employee becomes eligible. Under that
section, it states that an employee would need to be a regular full-time employee for two
consecutive years prior to registering for a class.
Judge McEvers suggested including part-time employees in the policy. Sally Holewa said she
would have no objection to adding part time employees and suggested the benefits be prorated
similar to the other benefits. Ms. Hulm added that some of the other agencies that allowed part
time employees to participate prorated their benefits as well.
It was the consensus of the Board to include part-time employees on a prorated basis.
Education Reimbursement A tiered reimbursement section has been included in the policy. Ms. Hulm said the proposed
language under C.9. basically states 100% reimbursement if the course is directly related to the
employee’s position and no degree plan would be required. If it is not directly related to the
employee’s current position but related to a position in the employee’s career ladder, than
reimbursement would be at 80%. If it is related to a different position in the Court System, then
reimbursement would also be at 80%. The latter two would require a degree plan. Ms. Hulm
also said that language has been added stating that an employee is not eligible for prior learning
credits or auditing a course and that benefits may be subject to taxation.
Ms. Holewa noted it may be a hardship on some people if they are not reimbursed fairly timely.
She suggested the employee be reimbursed per course but there be a repayment section in the
plan if the employee drops out or discontinues their plan.
Mr. Olson suggested as part of the employee’s plan, they could have goals and be paid upon
reaching a certain goal. Ms. Hoffer said an alternative would be to have the appointing authority
or board approve the plan based on their review of the classes taken, current job or the benefit
Reimbursement Levels A proposed payback plan has been added to the policy. If the employee quits within one year,
the employee is required to refund the Court System 100% of the reimbursement. If they quit
within two years, the required fund is 50%, and three years is 25%. Ms. Hulm stated the Board
may want to consider adding a sentence stating that any overage that is not covered by the
employee’s last paycheck is the responsibility of the employee.
Judge McEvers stated she reviewed the policies from the other agencies and the proposed
language is similar to theirs. However, she noted we are close to the line on a couple of things
and one of them is the benefit. Even though the policy states the employee will not receive
overtime, if they qualify under the Fair Labor Standards Act, then they are entitled to it. Judge
McEvers said her second concern is the language referring to attendance at the courses must be
during the off duty hours.
Justice Sandstrom said if we are offering a benefit, we would not want to put ourselves in a
position where it would be a detriment to us. Although it will benefit the Court System, it is
primarily something that is a benefit to our employees. He suggested having the employees
complete an application form stating their request and acknowledging they would not be
compensated for overtime, etc. Judge McEvers responded she has no objection to having an
application, but it is not going to give the Court System the ultimate protection just because they
Ted Smith commented with regard to paragraph A, it states “as a means of providing an
employee with the skills necessary to fulfill the employee’s duties.” This is more than just the
skills that they need for their duties.
In response to a question from Ms. Hoffer asking how this policy differentiates from the court
supported training that is offered to all employees, Ms. Klein responded there is a section on
training and there is a section on tuition. Ms. Holewa suggested to make it more clear, it may
need to be divided into two separate policies: one is professional development that may be
encouraged or required by the court or requested by the employee, and the other is an education
policy or something that is voluntary and initiated by the employee and not required.
Ms. Hulm will bring a draft back at the next meeting.
Term Change to Supplement I - Court Reporter Underfill With regard to the Supplement I - Court Reporter Underfill document, the proposal changes the
term “probationary period” to “introductory period”. The term has been changed throughout the
policy manual. It was the consensus of the Board to make the term change.
Recommendation to Amend Supplemental I - Court Reporter Underfill Before the Board is a request is to reduce the introductory period of a court reporter underfill
from one year to six months under certain circumstances. Chair Hagerty noted this would just be
an option for the hiring authority. It would only be shortened upon written documentation that
the employee is fully proficient and there is a compelling need to waive. She said an example
would be if a court reporter comes down with an illness and is not eligible for leave sharing.
In response to a question from Ms. Hulm asking if the change will affect the classification, Ms.
Klein responded it may because the classification is written to say we need that one year in order
to be successful in our system. Ted Smith commented that if the amendment is approved, we
need to look at all the classifications that have an introductory period. Rod Olson noted there are
only two positions that we go beyond the six month introductory period, the court reporter
underfill and referee.
It was moved by Ted Smith, seconded by Susan Hoffer, not to adopt the proposed language
to the introductory period and leave the supplement as is with the exception of the term
change.The motion carried.
Leave Sharing Chair Hagerty said the draft proposal to the Leave Sharing policy would allow any employee
with a minimum of six months of continuous service to qualify for leave sharing (donated
leave). This would basically apply to an underfill or someone who has had their introductory
Ms. Hoffer commented she would like the opportunity to donate leave to an employee no matter
if they are a new hire or regular employee.
Ms. Holewa said from the standpoint of the state and the employer, donated leave becomes a
property interest of the person who receives it. She believes the legislature was trying to avoid
having an employee receive a substantial amount of donated leave when the employee may be
terminated or choose not to return to work since the employee is on the employee’s introductory
period. That is why the law has excluded people on introductory status. However, she is
unaware of any introductory period longer than six months in any other state agency.
After brief discussion, it was moved by Petra Hulm, seconded by Rod Olson, to amend the
policy as proposed and to send the policy to employees for comment. The motion carried.
Court Reporter Counter Offer Pursuant to Policy 151, Rod Olson, Unit 2 Court Administrator, is requesting the Board consider
a counter offer above step 2 for a court reporter position. Mr. Olson stated the applicant has
many years of experience. He said he received permission from the Chief Justice to offer the
applicant the position at step 2 because the applicant is a realtime reporter. The applicant
declined and requested to start at step 6. Judge Greenwood submitted a letter supporting Mr.
It was moved by Justice Sandstrom, seconded by Judge McEvers, to recommend to the
Chief Justice that the appointing authority be authorized to hire at step 6.
Ms. Holewa stated she is unsure this meets the exceptions under our policy. The exceptions that
were made in the past were based on the fact that after advertising a couple of times, we were
unable to find someone.
Justice Sandstrom noted the difference in the work product received from a court reporter versus
a court recorder. He said although we have some very fine court recorders, we have also had
some significant problems with the quality of the record. The realtime skill is a significant skill
to have available especially if it can be made available to other judges if necessary. He noted that
Judge Greenwood emphasizes the limited resources available in the Southwest District. Justice
Sandstrom said while there are benefits to the step system, there have also been times when we
have been significantly limited in the benefit and there are some provisions for exceptions and
therefore he is supporting the request.
Chair Hagerty stated the importance of having realtime reporters available. She noted the benefit
of being able to see a rough draft of the transcript when writing an opinion. In Unit 3, the court
recorders and reporters shift around to provide the best coverage for a judge in a particular
situation. She said it is good to have the availability of the court reporter in the mix.
Ms. Hoffer noted our system already acknowledges the benefit of realtime with a one step
advancement. She said other employees who have had substantial experience have been denied
entry at an elevated salary so approving the request may disgruntle many employees.
In response to a question from Ted Smith asking if there is a chance of hiring another court
reporter, Ms. Klein said we could readvertise. She noted we have recently filled two positions,
one in Bismarck and one in Minot. Mr. Olson stated the downfall to readvertising is that Judge
Paulson has already been without a reporter/recorder since January 2.
It was noted that since Mr. Olson is a Board member, he will not be voting on the request from
A roll call vote showed three in favor of the motion and three against. The Board will pass the
suggestion along to the Chief Justice informing him the vote ended in a tie.
Other Business Staff was asked to look at possible amendments in procedure to Policy 142.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.