Present: Justice Mary Muehlen Maring, Chair
Judge Gail Hagerty
Justice Carol Ronning Kapsner
Judge Douglas Herman (via telephone)
Judge John T. Paulson (via telephone)
Absent: Judge Bruce Romanick
Staff: Sally Holewa, Executive Secretary to Judicial Conference
Renee Barnaby, State Court Administrative Office Staff
Others: Lee Ann Barnhardt, Education and Special Projects Coordinator
Jim Ganje, Staff Attorney
Justice Maring called the meeting to order at 8:00 a.m. The minutes of the November 22, 2005 meeting were approved without modification.
June Judicial Conference: Lee Ann Barnhardt provided a copy of the updated schedule for the June Judicial Conference. It was decided to remove the North Dakota Judges Association meeting from the agenda since it is not an official part of the conference.
Chief Justice VandeWalle has suggested two speakers for the Interstate Compact portion of the program. Ms. Barnhardt will follow up with them.
The afternoon session will include a panel presentation by the North Dakota Department of Corrections. Panel members include LeAnn Bertsch, Warren Emmer, and others. They will be presenting an overview of current corrections issues.
Judge Olson has requested 50 minutes on the agenda for a presentation by the Parole Board. It was decided that the Corrections panel time should be shared with the Parole Board.
Judge Paulson asked about continuing judicial education credit for the June 13 LSND session of the SBAND annual meeting. Ms. Barnhardt explained that all classes sponsored by SBAND are presumptively approved for CJE credits.
November Judicial Conference: Lee Ann Barnhardt went through the proposed schedule for the November Judicial Conference. Day one will focus on child welfare issues to coincide with the release of the findings of the Chief’s Children’s Justice Initiative Task Force. Lee Ann explained that the task force has been meeting since January and has a deadline of submitting an evaluation to the Chief by the end of August. The task force is to present its report to the Judicial Conference in November.
Speakers have been confirmed for sessions on the Pew Commission, kinship care, evidentiary issues in child and domestic abuse cases, and the law and literature discussion.
Following comments from the last Judicial Conference, it was decided to move the law and literature class to a voluntary evening session, as it has been in the past.
Dr. Konewko has been confirmed as the presenter for the second day of the conference. He will be speaking on what judges need to know about brain functions.
Judge Hagerty asked that time be built in for discussion of pending legislation. Justice Maring will e-mail Judge Wefald, Chair of the Legislative Committee of the Judicial Conference, to ask that he have drafts of any proposed bills available at the Judicial Conference and that he give a short presentation on the proposals.
Judge Paulson suggested that the juvenile court directors be invited to attend the Judicial Conference since the agenda is focused on children’s issues. It was agreed by consensus that the juvenile court directors and the judicial referees be invited to attend the conference.
Lee Ann Barnhardt suggested that the conference order handbooks on adoption and other children’s issues that could be included with the conference material. Judge Hagerty said any handbooks should be tied to the current benchbook. We want to encourage judges to keep their benchbooks up to date, and we do not want to distribute materials that may be in conflict with the benchbook. Lee Ann agreed to review any materials against the benchbook before deciding whether to include them as reference materials.
Open Meeting Laws: Jim Ganje reviewed the recent Attorney General’s opinion regarding the open meeting laws and the Judicial Conference. It is the opinion of the AG that because the Judicial Conference is mandated by the legislature, it is subject to open meeting laws. Jim drafted the procedures the conference needs to follow to comply with the law and it has been distributed by Sally Holewa. There was a discussion about the specifics of complying with the requirements when the meeting is scheduled to be held via IVN or telephone.
All of the committees reporting to the Conference are also subject to open meeting laws. There was discussion regarding the benefits and drawbacks of having proceedings open to the public.
Sally Holewa was directed to draft proposed amendments to the bylaws that would dissolve the four committees that currently report to the Judicial Conference. The amendments need to be distributed at least 10 days prior to the Judicial Conference so they can be discussed at the business meeting during the conference.
Security: Judge Paulson asked if the court had retained a court security consultant and if arrangements had been made for security during the June conference. Sally informed the group that the court had met with two interested parties and would soon be making a decision. It was anticipated that a consultant would be on board prior to the June conference. Jim Ganje cautioned the group that if the consultant were to file a report detailing security arrangements regarding the meeting, it would be subject to the open meeting laws and would be accessible to the public. It was decided that the Sally would discuss security with the consultant to insure it was in place, but we would not require a written report on the arrangements.
Committee Membership: Terms are expiring for four members of the Jury Standards Committee. They are the terms of Judge Fontaine, Judge Medd, Judge Marquardt, and attorney Ron McLean. All are eligible for re-appointment. Judge Herman moved that each of the members be re-appointed. Motion carried. Justice Maring will send a notice to each member apprising them of the reappointment.
Other: The dates for the Bench & Bar seminar and the Judicial Institute have been set.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:45 a.m.