Present: Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle, Chair Justice Daniel Crothers Judge Georgia Dawson (telephonically) Judge Laurie Fontaine Judge Donovan Foughty Judge John Greenwood Judge Gail Hagerty Jim Hill Judge William McLees Judge Joel Medd Judge John Paulson Judge Allan Schmalenberger
Absent: Judge Robert Wefald
Staff: Sally Holewa Louis Hentzen
Others Present: Dennis Herbeck Rod Olson Don Wolf Donna Wunderlich
Minutes: Renee Barnaby
Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m.
It was moved by Judge Paulson, seconded by Jim Hill, to approve the minutes of the
February 27, 2008 meeting. The motion carried.FTE Requests for 2009-11 Biennium The following requests for new positions for t
Unit 2 2 - Deputy Clerk of Court for Cass County Law Clerk for the ECJD Judicial Referee for the SEJD Secretary II as support staff for the SEJD Judicial Referee
Unit 3 2 - Deputy Clerk of Court for Burleigh County Law Clerk for the SCJD
Unit 4 Deputy Clerk of Court for Williams County Trial Court Manager
State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) Technology Coordinator Staff Attorney
Unit 1 - With regard to Unit 1's request for a Family Court Coordinator, Ms. Holewa is
recommending the position be converted to a full time, permanent employee. She said the family
court project has been in pilot status for over five years. Since its inception, the family court has
operated on grant funding, which has been almost exclusively used to fund the salary of the
family court coordinator.
Judge Medd said Judge Bohlman started the project. It is basically a concept of one judge/one
family. Cases can range from deprivation, domestic violence, divorces and custody cases. A
treatment team reports to the judge on how the family is doing. If there are problems, the family
court coordinator brings it before the family court judge who then can modify visitation. He said
the project has been very successful and suggested it be considered for permanent status.
Judge Schmalenberger asked if there was a problem with demands for change of judge.
Judge Medd indicated it has not been encountered thus far.
Unit 2 - With regard to Unit 2, Ms. Holewa said she is recommending that we ask for one deputy
clerk in Fargo. She said with the case management system being replaced, it will put demands
on the clerk's office so it is important to have good staffing levels in all of the counties in that
Ms. Holewa stated with regard to the request for a law clerk and judicial referee in Unit 2,
because law clerks and referees are being suggested as an alternative to increasing the number of
judgeships, these requests need to be considered in conjunction with the decision on whether or
not the court requests additional judges.
Chief Justice VandeWalle said the issue of judgeships, law clerks, and judicial referees will be
discussed at the June Judicial Conference.
Judge Dawson suggested we follow the weighted caseload recommendations in determining the
number of judges we request. If the decision is not to request additional judges, then the law
clerk position is needed to alleviate the workload in those districts that are under-judged.
Unit 3 - Sally Holewa said she is recommending one deputy clerk for Unit 3.
Judge Hagerty said the law clerk request for Unit 3 is different from the law clerk requests in
other districts because it is not related to the judge shortage issue. She believes a law clerk is
necessary in the South Central because they are under-clerked. There are eight judges and one
Chief Justice VandeWalle acknowledged the wide disparity in the ratio of law clerks to judges
across the districts. He suggested that perhaps a formula for law clerks should be developed
similar to the formula for judges or the WAPC study.
Unit 4 - Ms. Holewa stated she is recommending one deputy clerk for Williams County. She
said she is not recommending a trial court manager be added in Unit 4 at this time. The trial
court manager position in Unit 4 was elevated to a trial court administrator position with the
passage of AR 6.1 in 2004. The unique administrative structure in Unit 4 is based on the unit
being coextensive with the Northwest Judicial District, and the relatively small size of the unit,
as measured by population, case filings, and number of included counties.
Judge McLees said if a trial court manager position is not added, they would like to see more of
an administrative presence in the western end of the district. He believes that area is poised for
an increase in filings due to the increased oil activity taking place.
SCAO - Ms. Holewa said she is requesting two positions at the state level, a staff attorney and
technology coordinator. She said the staff attorney position would assist current staff attorneys
in staffing committees, task forces, and work groups. The technology coordinator position would
be responsible for assisting in the implementation of a new case management system, including
initial and on-going training, as well as daily help desk support. The position would also be
responsible for assisting in training and support of the jury management system, and other
software and technology assistance as needed.
Judge Medd stated the technology coordinator position is a crucial position with the new case
management system coming on board. There will be a lot of questions and need for assistance.
It was moved by Judge Paulson, second by Judge Medd, to approve all of the requests as
initially requested by the Units and State Court Administrator's Office.
In response to a question from Justice Crothers, Ms. Holewa responded that during the last budget
cycle the trial courts requested nine new FTEs and three made it into the budget. She said she
could not recall what the numbers were from the previous budget cycle.
The motion failed 5 to 6.
It was moved by Judge Schmalenberger, seconded by Judge Foughty, to approve Sally
Holewa's recommendations with the understanding that after the June Judicial Conference,
determinations will be made on judgeships, referees, and law clerks.
Judge Foughty commented that although the law clerk request could be adjusted later depending
on what is decided regarding the need for more judges or referees, the South Central request for a
law clerk is not contingent upon that decision. He suggested that a law clerk position for the
South Central Judicial District be included in the budget at this time.
With the consent of the second, the motion was amended to include Unit 3's request for a
law clerk for the South Central Judicial District.The motion carried.
Court Improvement Grant Application Louie Hentzen said the Court Improvement Grants for FY 2008 and FY 2009 are due June 30 and
are before the Council for review and approval. He briefly explained the basic grant is used to
contract services with UND to administer the lay GAL project; the training grant is for
conferences, training sessions, scholarships, etc.; and the data collection and analysis grant is used
to implement a quality assurance program and to do an analysis of how we collect data in child
welfare cases. He said a more detailed narrative is attached to the meeting materials explaining
how each grant is being used.
Mr. Hentzen stated the GAL subcommittee will be recommending to the full committee that in
the future, the administration of the project be funded through general funds and not through the
grant. It is their intent to use the basic grant to do more work with the Indian Child Welfare Act
and other issues.
North Dakota is third lowest in allocation of court improvement funds.
Sally Holewa commented the work of the committee will directly influence how juvenile cases
are processed. She also said the recommendations on the data collection are also important
because eventually it will make a difference on how clerks process cases.
Mr. Hentzen said the state received the preliminary results from the exit session of the Children
and Family Services review held in April. The state did very well on the safety outcome but did
poorly on the well-being outcome. They gave the state low marks because of the lack of effort on
behalf of the social service agency to try to find the absent parent, specifically the father. A
program improvement plan meeting is set for June. It was moved by Judge Paulson, seconded by Judge McLees, to approve the grant
application. The motion carried. Utilization of N.D.R.Ct. 8.8(b) and N.D.R.Civ.P. 16(a)(6) Sally Holewa said she recently attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Alternative Dispute
Resolution. There was considerable discussion on the use of the alternative dispute resolution
statement as required by N.D.R.Ct. 8.8(b) and in pre-trial proceedings as required under
N.D.R.Ct. 16(a)(6). There was a real frustration by the members of the joint committee that the
requirements are not being followed in many cases and that the judges are not consistently
requiring counsel to follow the rules.
Judge Schmalenberger stated the way the rules are set up, it requires the parties to state they have
considered alternative dispute resolution and whether or not they think their case is amicable. He
said if the parties do not file the statement, the case is dismissed. Judge Medd commented it is
part of the scheduling order.
It was suggested perhaps the attorneys are saying their frustration is with the judges but really it is
with the other attorneys who are not in favor of alternative dispute resolution.
Judge Fontaine said although she is not aware of a judge who does not encourage alternative
dispute resolution, she finds the parties do not seem to have much interest in it.
The consensus of the members was that the rules related to ADR are being implemented, and
there is no need to take further action on this issue.