May 23, 2005
Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle, Chair
Justice Dale V. Sandstrom
Judge Karen Braaten
Judge John T. Paulson
Judge Bruce B. Haskell (For Judge Robert Wefald)
Judge Allan Schmalenberger
Judge John Greenwood
Judge John Irby
Judge Donovan Foughty
Judge William McLees
Judge M. Richard Geiger
Judge Sonna Anderson (For Judge Gail Hagerty)
Judge Robert Wefald
Judge Gail Hagerty
Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle welcomed everybody to the meeting and asked everybody to introduce themselves because Aglae Young was taking the minutes and she was not familiar with the faces.
The first item on the agenda was the approval of the minutes of the March 14, 2005 meeting. The minutes were approved after correcting a typographical error on page 4, paragraph 6.
Chief Justice VandeWalle welcomed Justice Sandstrom to the Council replacing Justice Neumann.
Proposed Policy on preparation of Transcript from Audio Record
Ted Gladden provided a diagram for preparation of criminal case audio generated transcripts. The handou included comments received from the last meeting. The objective is the development of a paper standard in terms of when the court would consider looking at sending transcripts out. Some districts send transcripts out once they reach 50 pages. The proposed policy sets 150 pages as the standard.
Transcripts would be prepared by court reporters, secretaries to judges and other personnel up to 150 pages. Beyond 150 pages, consideration would be first to using other court personnel to type the transcript and if staff are not available, the transcript could be prepared using an outside service bureau.
Staff reviewed that in 2003, $18,500.00 was spent for court ordered transcripts.
Judge Schmalenberger asked if the transcripts apply only to indigent defense cases. Ted replied it applies to cases where the cost would be borne by the state.
Chief Justice VandeWalle said there have been issues with the accuracy of the transcripts in the past. There needs to be a random system for quality control of transcripts prepared by any service bureau.
Judge Braaten said she is comfortable letting the administrators make the decision regarding editing procedures, but there should be changes to the wording of paragraph 3.
There was discussion about how the current personnel can be organized to do the transcripts.
Judge Schmalenberger said that the policy should not be different for indigent than for non-indigent cases and that court personnel that can prepare transcripts for non-indigent defense cases would prefer to do them out of their office time in order to make extra money.
There was some discussion about court personnel doing transcripts and how busy they are.
Judge Geiger stated that the language in the policy is not clear.
Judge Braaten moved to amend paragraph 3 on section 4 to clarify the language. It was seconded by Judge Haskell. Motion carried.
Proposed Amendment to Policy 206 on Paid Transcripts
The amendments to Policy 206 were discussed. Louis Hentzen indicated that language was included to recommend that court staff "should" work on fee paid transcripts outside of regular work hours.
Judge Haskell asked about court personnel doing transcripts after hours. There was some discussion on this issue. Chief Justice VandeWalle stated that some judges will not allow their secretaries to work on court related business after hours.
Judge Haskell moved approval of the amendments, seconded by Jim Hill. Motion carried.
Susan Sisk reviewed the new budget for Indigent Defense. She presented two options for distributing increased funds for the first six months of the new biennium.
Judge Schmalenberger expressed concern about the adequacy and flexibility in the use of funds. Ted assured the members that the recommendation will support either approach.
Judge Paulson moved approval of Option 1, seconded by Judge Haskell. Motion carried.
Chief Justice VandeWalle needs to make two appointments to the new Indigent Defense Commission. He requested suggestions for candidates from the Council. One appointment needs to be from a county that has a population of fewer than 10,000. The other appointment has no limitation attached.
Docket Currency Report
Chief Justice VandeWalle stated he is pleased with the overall status of the Fall 2004 Docket Currency Report. He will include remarks concerning the need for aggressive monitoring of cases in his remarks to the State Bar as part of his State of the Judiciary Message.
Redacting of Confidential Information
Judge Paulson expressed concern over implementation of N.D.R.Ct. 3.1. Having to submit duplicate documents when data is redacted creates an unnecessary filing of documents.
Attorneys and judges were provided an opportunity to comment on N.D.R.Ct. 3.1. An objective is the protection of social security numbers.
Judge Schmalenberger said there are two rules on the subject: N.D.R.Ct. 3.1 has been approved; and N.D.R.Ct. 41, a companion rule, as not yet been approved by the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice VandeWalle said that the problem of lack of space in some clerks' office is created because staff do not follow the record retention rule, Admin.R. 19. They keep court records there for longer than required.
Judge Schmalenberger mentioned that there might be some conflict between 3.1 and 41 that may need to be addressed.
Ted Gladden said a request has been sent to Court Services with amendments to Admin. R. 19. The proposed amendments would reduce the amount of time selected court records have to be maintained.
Criminal Judgment Preparation
Ted Gladden received an email from staff at the Department of Corrections requesting that criminal judgments be prepared in one format as some judgments are confusing to understand. They suggested using a model, the judgments submitted from Fargo or Bismarck.
Judge McLees stated that he does not like the misdemeanor criminal judgments printed by UCIS. Judge Braaten stated the Northeast Central District is using UCIS judgments for misdemeanor and felony cases.
In Burleigh and Cass, the state's attorney prepares the felony judgments. There is no uniformity on how the judgments are being done statewide.
Judge Geiger said he is using the UCIS generated forms because the clerk said it saves her time but they are hard to understand.
Judge Braaten said that it is an advantage to using the UCIS document because the clerk is entering the information right there in the courtroom. When the state's attorney prepares the judgment, they have to be sent to the clerk's office and staff have to enter the data in UCIS which takes the clerk's time. She agrees the form is not pretty, but it does work.
Judge Geiger said the wording on the form may not be accurate. If he wants to add something, the clerk tells him he can't because it does not fit in the form.
Chief Justice VandeWalle said that there have been occasions when the state's attorney does not prepare the judgment timely. He said they have had to call to ask for judgments on occasion while the defendant was in jail not being able to be transported until the judgment was completed.
Judge Greenwood said it would be good to see the forms from Cass and Burleigh and develop a form for statewide use.
Justice Sandstrom said that there is a new state's attorney's management system under consideration. That system should address the issue of the judgment form.
Chief Justice VandeWalle indicated it is necessary to talk to the Department of Corrections employee who sent the e-mail to find out what she means by confusing.
Ted Gladden will follow up on the complaint.
District Court Reports
Dixie Knoebel sent a written report because she could not be present. Mr. Hentzen stated that the new administrative structure has only been in effect a few months, yet we are doing quite well. Court administration and juvenile court offices are coming together cooperatively developing unit-wide procedures.
Mr. Hentzen recognized the good work the juvenile court directors are doing. They are actively engaged in improving overall administration of the juvenile courts harmonizing operating procedures. They are developing a best practices manual.
He also recognized the good work of the court administrators working with court personnel in their respective units.
Chris Bleuenstein said he has had a good experience working with the clerks and juvenile courts and seeing them work together.
Chief Justice VandeWalle thanked Louis Hentzen for his double duty acting as the court administrator in Unit 2 as well as addressing issues in his capacity overseeing trial court activities statewide.
Susan Sisk stated she is talking to the administrators to determine their biennial-end needs. The administrators are to keep their respective presiding judges advised.
Ted Gladden reviewed the 05-07 budget. The indigent defense budget was reduced by $1,000,000 in compensation for contract counsel by reducing the per hour rate from $75 to $65. Our budget was reduced by $130,000 for technology applications.
Ted Gladden recognized the good work of the court administrators, juvenile court directors, Mike Sandal, and Kurt Schmidt in the budget preparation process. He thanked Susan Sisk for her work and recognized the credibility she has gained with the appropriations committee members with our good outcome.
Ted then talked about the judicial ride-along program. It is imperative to start working now if we are going to be successful in 2007. We cannot wait for the last six months before the session if we are to achieve any success.
Chief Justice VandeWalle thanked Ted, Susan, and all the staff and judges who participated in the budget process. He indicated this was by far the easiest session he has ever had.
Meeting for September will be Tuesday, September 27, 2005, in Bismarck.
Judge Robert Wefald's term is expiring on the Administrative Council. Ballots will be distributed in July for this vacancy.
Mr. Gladden indicated the 2004 weighted case load data was mailed on Friday, May 20, 2005.
Jim Hill said that the State Bar will have a special program on judicial selection at the Bar convention.
Chief Justice VandeWalle asked if they are going to talk about what is going on in Washington, D.C. and the federal process. Jim Hill said the program will address in one segment and discuss issues germane to the election process during another segment.