The meeting was called to order by Chair James M. Bekken, at 8:30 a.m. on June 26. He acknowledged the mailing of the minutes prior to the meeting and indicated that they would be approved as distributed. Executive Secretary Ted Gladden called roll. The following members of the Judicial Conference were present:
Judges of Supreme Court
Gerald W. VandeWalle
William A. Neumann
Dale V. Sandstrom
Mary Muehlen Maring
Judges of District Court
Bruce B. Haskell
Burt L. Riskedahl
Thomas J. Schneider
William W. McLees
Gerald H. Rustad
Karen K. Braaten
Joel D. Medd
John T. Paulson
James M. Bekken
Ronald E. Goodman
John E. Greenwood
M. Richard Geiger
Lee A. Christofferson
Laurie A. Fontaine
John C. McClintock, Jr.
Allan L. Schmalenberger
Ronald L. Hilden
Judges of Municipal Court
Robert A. Keogh
William F. Hodny
Everett Nels Olson
Clerk of Supreme Court
Acting Dean of the UND School of Law
Members of the Bar
Steven J. Lies
Sherry Mills Moore
Michael D. Sturdevant
James S. Hill
Michael F. Daley
Jim Ganje reviewed the legislative session and provided a handout to all members.
Chief Justice VandeWalle requested that the state court administrative staff be directed to prepare a list of treatment programs in the state and provide it to all judges and judicial referees for their consideration.
Senator Jack Traynor was introduced and led the discussion on HB 1088. He indicated that the bill started on the House side with a request to create a special fund for courthouse maintenance and renovation with an addition to the civil filing fee. The Senate Judiciary Committee realized that after considerable testimony on the provision of indigent defense services, that a proposal needed to be advanced to assist in the payment for indigent defense costs. As a result, HB 1088 was amended to provided for a $100 administrative fee to be assessed on all criminal cases. The funds will be placed in a continuing appropriation fund to the judiciary to defray the cost of indigent defense services and provide funds for courthouse maintenance and renovation. The first $750,000 will be used for this purpose. The next $460,000 will be used to fund courthouse renovation and maintenance projects. All funds collected after the initial $1,210,000 will be divided equally between the two funds.
Senator Traynor stated he hopes there is an earnest effort to collect the fees as they will become essential to the administration of indigent defense services.
Ted Gladden provided a review of the implementation issues that need to be addressed. Greg Wallace then discussed the programs held throughout the state with clerk personnel regarding the implementation of HB 1088. Based on discussion at the Judicial Conference, the presiding judges will meet on June 30, 2003, to take final action on the priority schedule for fee structure and other specific implementation issues.
Discussion then focused on the priority order for assessing fees. There was some sense that restitution should be the first amount that is paid off. There was also a suggestion that restitution should be removed from the list altogether. It was moved and seconded that the conference recommend to the Council of Presiding Judges that restitution be placed number one on the payment list. Motion defeated.
Discussion then focused on what standard would be applied for assessing and collecting the indigent defense fee versus other administrative fees. The question was raised about whether the same standard applied to the determination of indigency should be applied to the assessment and collection of indigent defense fees. It was concluded that this would not be a standard as many defendants would have the ability to pay the administrative fees assessed by the court but would not have the ability to reimburse for indigent defense services.
Chief Justice VandeWalle introduced Justice William Neumann, Ted Gladden, and Jim Ganje and indicated they would serve as panelists for a discussion on the proposed judicial reorganization plan.
Ted Gladden provided a history of where we have been administratively. He reviewed the change in court staffing over the last 25 years and indicated that we have not made any change to the administrative structure in that time period. We have added over 300 court employees, reduced the number of judges, and substantially changed how judicial services in the state are delivered.
Jim Ganje discussed the bridge from the planning committee's report to the proposal before the Judicial Conference. He indicated that many of the survey responses that have been received focus on issues that are not related to the administrative reorganization but were more focused on concerns from rural parts of the state for judicial services.
Justice Neumann reviewed the survey responses in detail. He stressed that change is inevitable and the key for the judiciary is to design a system that assures judicial services will be provided throughout the state. He stressed that it is a constitutional requirement that judicial services be provided generally and it is essential that we embrace this requirement if we are to maintain the trust and support of the people.
Chief Justice VandeWalle stressed that training of court administrators is a learned process and that the training of administration is not something that is intuitive with all people. We need professionally trained court administrators.
The panel then responded to questions from the group. It was clarified that the chain of command is with recommendations going from the proposed Council to the Chief Justice. The Chief Justice would the give any directive to the State Court Administrator for implementation.
The proposed amendments to the Bylaws were reviewed. After discussion, it was moved and seconded to approve the proposed amendments. Motion carried.
Election of Officers
Chair Bekken asked for nominations for chair elect. It was moved and seconded to nominate Justice Mary Muehlen Maring as chair-elect. There being no further nominations, the secretary was directed to cast a unanimous ballot for Justice Maring. Motion carried.
Judge Bekken then indicated that the Judicial Conference needed to identify a representative to assist with an interim guardianship. After discussion, there was consensus that the Honorable Burt Riskedahl would be asked to serve as the Judicial Conference representative.
At this point, the new chair of the Judicial Conference, the Honorable John T. Paulson, came forward. He presented a plaque of service to Judge Bekken thanking him for his dedication as chair of the Judicial Conference.
Judge Paulson then assumed the chair and adjourned the meeting.