Chief Justice VandeWalle welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the Administrative Council. The first item was the term limit selection for the elected members to the Council:
James Hill 3-year term
Judge John Greenwood 2-year term
Judge Donovan Foughty 1-year term
Judge Robert Wefald 1-year term
The minutes of the June 28, 2004 Council of Presiding Judges meeting were approved.
Administrative Rule 22
Discussion then focused on the review of Administrative Rule 22. Chief Justice VandeWalle indicated the importance of having participation from every district. He stated that if a presiding judge will be unable to attend, they should designate a surrogate to attend on their behalf.
Administrative Work Plans
Discussion then focused on the proposed work plans for the administrative units. Ted Gladden provided the background stating that meetings had been held within each of the administrative units to begin getting input from the court administrative personnel, juvenile court personnel, and clerk of court personnel. There were a number of issues that came up where administrative personnel felt greater consistency was needed. One of them has to do with the role and involvement of state’s attorneys in juvenile proceedings. Ted Gladden then asked Louie Hentzen to discuss the specifics of the direction of the administrative personnel and proposed work plan and time frames that had been outlined. Mr. Hentzen began the discussion pointing out that we still have dissimilar practices in terms of how indigent defense applications are reviewed between districts. There has been action in the past on the part of the Council of Presiding Judges to move to an administrative process for greater uniformity in the review and appointing process. This has not occurred in all judicial districts. Mr. Hentzen stated that he is working with the districts to assure that a consistent system is implemented statewide. Chief Justice VandeWalle pointed out that this is an area where we will be open to scrutiny, especially if indigent defense services are removed from the courts. There is perception on the part of some contract counsel that appointments are made too frequently and that there is not a rigorous enough review of the applications being submitted before appointments are made.
Mr. Hentzen then reviewed the deliverables contained in the work plan draft.
•Recommendation: To create a caseflow management committee in each of the administrative units and that each administrative unit should submit a caseflow management plan by June 30, 3005.
•Recommendation: Each administrative unit should submit the procedures to him by October 15, 2004, regarding compliance with N.D.R.Civ.P. 16.
•Recommendation: Each administrative unit should prepare a jury management plan and submit it to the State Court Administrator’s Office by December 31, 2004 in compliance with Administrative Rule 9 and N.D.C.C. Chapter 27-09.1.
•Recommendation: All juvenile court management reviews will be completed by June 30, 2005. Recommendations contained in those management reviews would be implemented based on the review and direction of the Juvenile Policy Board.
•Recommendation: Indigent defense services would be reviewed in the administrative units where it is not being handled by administrative personnel and plans developed by December 31, 2004 to move to an assignment process by court personnel.
•Recommendation: Records retention standards, AR 19, will be reviewed by December 31, 2004. Individuals will be identified with the goal to begin a regular monitoring process for all clerk offices to assure compliance with AR 19.
•Recommendation: That the State Court Fiscal Office will develop bill paying procedures for implementation statewide effective September 30, 2004.
•Recommendation: That each administrative unit will be responsible for the development of a continuum of government (COG) plan by October 31, 2004.
Mr. Hentzen pointed out that this work plan would be adjusted, added to, and modified over time but it gave some specific performance objectives for each of the administrative units.
The Administrative Council approved the time frames and the deliverables outlined in Mr. Hentzen’s report.
Service of Process
Mr. Gladden outlined that we still have disparate practice throughout the state regarding service of process, whether it be by personal service or first class service. Mr. Ganje pointed out that based on the survey that was just conducted with clerks of district court, the cost would be in excess of $380,000 per biennium. That is based on incomplete survey data so the costs could be substantially higher. There was discussion that if we are going to use personal service, then the courts should have the option of using private process servers as opposed to using the sheriffs for all personal service. There was a consensus that once a case is in the system and parties have been noticed, all subsequent service would be first class mail.
After further discussion, it was moved and seconded that once a person is served by summons and complaint or by warrant, all subsequent service will be by first class mail. Motion carried.
State Hospital Evaluations
Discussion then focused on the correspondence sent from the East Central Judicial District regarding the delays in getting forensic evaluations conducted at the State Hospital in accordance with N.D.C.C. 12.1-04-06. Judge Dawson indicated that cases are not being held within the time period, and it is creating a significant problem in the East Central Judicial District. In response to inquiry, other judges indicated that they are also having problems getting evaluations scheduled timely at the State Hospital from their districts, as well. Mr. Gladden was directed to visit with Carol Olson, Executive Director of the Department of Human Services, regarding the department’s noncompliance with the statutory time lines for forensic evaluations.
Discussion then focused on a proposed rule draft to amend N.D.R.Ct. 9.1 having to do with administrative appeals. After discussion of the proposed amendment, it was moved and seconded to refer the proposed rule amendment to the Joint Procedure Committee for consideration. Motion carried.
Proposed Amendment to Policy 514
Mr. Gladden discussed the proposed technical amendments to Policy 514 deleting Council of Presiding Judges and inserting Administrative Council. It was moved and seconded to approve the amendments to Policy 514. Motion carried.
Juvenile Policy Board Recommendation
Ted Gladden then discussed his presentation to the Juvenile Policy Board regarding the creation of one director of juvenile court for each administrative unit. He stated that it was difficult to reach a policy consensus when 12 representatives are at the table and it would be appropriate to designate one person in regard to policy direction for each administrative unit. Judge Wefald indicated that he felt there should be a designation of a person in Administrative Unit 4 so there was consistency with the other three administrative units. In response to a question, Mr. Gladden indicated that designation has not been made as he is not sure that it was warranted in that unit and that possibly the new court administrator could assume the role of providing policy direction for the juvenile court in Administrative Unit 4. This step would not require the appointment of a subordinate.
Mr. Gladden then reviewed the jury management report that is provided to all presiding judges quarterly. He pointed out deviations from the recommended standards and asked each of the presiding judges to review the reports and discuss it with judges and administrative personnel in their respective districts to see what can be done to the number of jurors summoned and reduce the number of day-of-trial settlements after the jury has reported.
Mr. Gladden then reviewed the indigent defense/facility fee collection report. He said that based on current collections, we should achieve $1,750,000 for these funds. If that amount is reached during the biennium, it would mean that the base amount of $750,000 for indigent defense services would be reached as well as the base amount in the court facilities maintenance fund of $460,000. This would mean that based on current collection levels, we would have $1,020,000 in the indigent defense administrative fund and $730,000 in the court facilities maintenance fund. Judge Paulson requested that payment of the administrative fees be tracked by judicial district or administrative units so that the Council would have a better idea of the fund flow from each region of the state.
Report on UCIS Fiscal Audits
Susan Sisk provided information on the fiscal audits that are being conducted to review compliance in UCIS receiving funds in the Clerk of District Court Offices. She stated that staff from the State Court Administrator’ Office had begun auditing all counties to assure compliance with the procedures that have been outlined for the use of the Unified Court Information System in receiving funds into the clerk’s office. The audits have been going very well and over a half a dozen counties have been visited to date. She stated that as part of this process, they will also review procedures in the municipal court clerk’s offices that use UCIS. A report will be provided to each municipal judge indicating any deficiencies in the financial component of UCIS.
Human Resources Report
Mike Sandal reviewed the new pay and classification plan implementation schedule. He stated that he would be holding meetings in each administrative unit prior to the implementation of a new pay and classification plan on October 1, 2004. Employees that are eligible for a pay adjustment will receive that pay in their November 1 paycheck.
Judicial Ride-Along Program
Ted Gladden discussed the status of the judicial ride-along program. He stated that the program seems to be working well and to his knowledge, legislators have visited various district courts in all judicial districts but the Northwest Judicial District or Administrative Unit 4. He stated he had not received any feedback regarding the status of the program in Administrative Unit 4, but the program has been received well by area legislators in other parts of the state. A suggestion was made there should be a follow up to members of the appropriation committees and the judicial committees to visit their local judge for a ride-along if they have not done so to date.
Trial Court Progress Report
Louie Hentzen outlined his activities over the last few months working with the various administrative offices and juvenile court offices and his activities into the fall working with the various administrative units and implementing the aspects of the work plan that was presented earlier as well as addressing other areas pertaining to operational consistency between various units.
For the Good of the Order
Judge Paulson discussed documents circulated by Ted Gladden concerning the courtroom 21 project. He questioned advisability of sending videos of courtrooms due to security concerns.
Chief Justice VandeWalle indicated that the January 4, 2005 meeting date needs to be canceled as that will probably be the night of the inaugural ball. Another date will be set.