Chair Geiger called the telephonic meeting to order at 3:45 pm. He directed the members' attention to the recommendation from the Realtime Reporting Committee, a special committee established
by the Administrative Council to address issues related to our trial courts providing realtime reporting. The Administrative Council passed a resolution supporting the recommendation and suggested the compensation portion of the proposal be sent to the Personnel Policy Board for
Mike Sandal drew the members’ attention to the draft class specification. Under the General Summary or Purpose category, a third paragraph was added to reflect the recommendation of the
Realtime Reporting Committee, as well as the motion that was passed by the Administrative Council. Mr. Sandal also drew the members’ attention to draft guidelines or criteria for this Board
to consider when reviewing recommendations such as this. The proposed language would be inserted under subsection C as paragraph 4, in Policy 103, Employee Compensation. The proposal, as drafted, could apply to any category of employment where a certification due to newly assigned
duties and responsibilities would apply.
Judge Karen Braaten referred the Board to paragraph II, page 2, of the Report and Recommendations of the Realtime Committee referring to the compensation for realtime reporters. Realtime reporting requires a very high level of skill. Under the Recommendations, a court reporter who attains and
maintains their National Court Reporters Association realtime certification (CRR) and who regularly provides realtime reporting services would receive the equivalent of a one-step pay increase. The
Council defined the term “regularly provides realtime” as using realtime frequently enough so the reporter maintains his or her proficiency. The reporter must take a test in order to become realtime
certified. Once they pass the test, they are required to have 30 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain the certification. Currently, there is one reporter in the state who is certified
and three others are in the process of taking their test to be certified.
It was moved by Judy Susie, seconded by Justice Kapsner, to adopt the modifications proposed in the court reporter classification description. Justice Kapsner informed the Board that Jeanne Walstad could not attend the meeting and relayed
Jeanne’s concerns to the members. She said Jeanne is in favor of the changes but is concerned the steps are based on longevity. If we give a one-step pay increase, will that simply be absorbed by
freezing them at that step or will it be treated as if it is a constructive service credit of two years and from that day forward, they are treated as having two more years of service for purposes of future step increases? In the past, to make it clear the employee would continue to enjoy those credits within the step system, the Court has referred to it as a constructive service credit.
Mike Sandal responded it would not be frozen. The intent was to provide one step that would continue on, equivalent to as if they had an additional two years of service.
Justice Kapsner asked if that should be specifically stated in the guidelines or is there something else that would allow us to assume that?
It was the Board’s understanding that the language, as currently written, is clear and any increase was not one that would be frozen; however, Chair Geiger asked that the comments be noted so when the Supreme Court takes up the issue, they could decide if they wanted language incorporated.
In response to a question from Gladys Schmitt asking what happens if a court reporter passed the test and received a pay increase but never actually used realtime, Judge Braaten said once certified, a court reporter is required to have 30 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain the certification. If a reporter works that hard to get the skill, they would want to maintain it. They will be offering their realtime services not only to their judge, but also to all judges in the unit or the entire state. If a reporter is certified and does not maintain the practice, the judge will be able to see immediately that the performance is not there.
In response to a question concerning coverage throughout the state, Judge Braaten referred the Board to page 3 of the report. Realtime reporting will only be for trials or hearings where there is testimony. If a judge, whose reporter is not a CRR, specifically finds a necessity exists for realtime reporting services, that judge shall make a request to the presiding judges of his/her respective unit for realtime reporting services. If there is no certified realtime reporter within the respective unit,
then the request shall be forwarded to the presiding judges of another unit within the state which has a certified realtime reporter. The presiding judges of that other unit shall then determine the
availability of a certified realtime reporter to meet the requesting judge’s need. If no realtime reporter is available, a freelance reporter shall be hired
After further discussion, it was the consensus of the Board to delete the word “their” from the
proposed language under the court reporter class specification and to adjust the classification to reflect active verb.
In response to a question from Chair Geiger as to whether the certification or license requirements should be changed on the classification specification to reflect the CRR requirement, Mike Sandal
responded no, otherwise it would require all court reporters to be a CRR.
Judge Paulson called the question and asked for a roll call vote. Justice Kapsner, Judge Paulson, Judy Susie and Gladys Schmitt voted in favor of adopting the changes to the court reporter
class specification as modified. Kurt Schmidt dissented. Chair Geiger directed Mike Sandal to forward the recommendation to the Supreme Court for consideration.
Judge Paulson suggested the Board consider the draft changes to policy 103 at the next meeting,
which is scheduled for December 21, 2005, in Bismarck.