|Members Present |
Judge Joel Medd, Chair
Judge Laurie Fontaine
Judge Robert Holte
Judge Lester Ketterling
Judge John Paulson
|Members Absent |
Chair Medd called the meeting to order at 12:15 p.m. and welcomed Committee members to the Committee's first meeting in some time. He noted that Ron McLean, a recently appointed new member, was unable to attend due to a court conflict.
Membership and Terms
Chair Medd noted that membership terms had never been clearly defined and, consequently, there was a need to allocate beginning, staggered terms among current members. Additionally, he said the Committee has two pending vacancies - one lawyer representative and one clerk/administration representative. After discussion, Committee members agreed initial terms should be allocated as follows: 3 years - Judge Medd, Judge Ketterling, Judge Fontaine, and Ron McLean; 2 years - Judge Holte and Ted Gladden; and 1 year - Judge Paulson, Tom Dickson, Jim Fitzsimmons, and Deb Simenson. It was also agreed that the two vacancies, when filled, would be assigned two year terms.
With respect to the two vacancies, Judge Paulson suggested a state's attorney should be considered for appointment to the Committee. Committee members agreed the Committee should maintain approximately equal representation from different areas of the state. Chair Medd requested that Committee members forward any membership suggestions for review. He said the matter will be considered again at the Committee's next meeting.
Committee Purpose and Responsibilities
Committee members briefly reviewed Attachment B (May 8, 2003) - an excerpt from the Judicial Conference Bylaws setting out the Committee's areas of study and responsibility. Chair Medd observed that recent rule changes concerning jury reform issues - juror note taking and questions - were undertaken and recommended by the Joint Procedure Committee. He suggested, and Committee members agreed, that this Committee should be kept apprised of any jury management and policy-related issues under review by the Joint Procedure Committee.
Overview of Administrative Rule 9
At the request of Chair Medd, staff briefly reviewed Attachment C (May 8, 2003) - Administrative Rule 9 regarding juror management and the incorporated standards for juror use and management. Staff noted that current Administrative Rule 9 and the incorporated standards resulted from the Committee's previous work and now forms the basis for jury management in the state. He said the standards may require further review at some future time.
Chair Medd drew Committee members' attention to Attachments D, E, and F (May 8, 2003) - ABA Standard 20 regarding juror privacy, N.D.C.C. Section 27-09.1-09(3) concerning access to juror qualification information, and a publication authored by Paula Hannaford of the National Center for State Courts which discusses possible approaches to protecting juror privacy. He noted that the standards incorporated in Administrative Rule 9 do not include Standard 20.
Staff recalled the Committee's earlier discussion of issues concerning juror privacy and security and the decision then to defer further discussion pending the publication of the Hannaford
article, which was being prepared at that time. He said the article was intended to provide guidance for courts in addressing what is generally regarded as a complex issue. The article, he said, essentially suggests drawing a distinction between juror information that is needed for administrative purposes, which could be made confidential, and juror information that is desired by lawyers as an aid to the juror selection process.
Judge Medd distributed the juror qualification form used in the Northeast Central judicial district, which requests information identified by statute for qualification purposes, but also requests arguably more sensitive information such as employer, name of spouse, and whether the person has ever been involved in a lawsuit.
Staff observed that N.D.C.C. Section 27-09.1-09(3) provides that information in the qualification forms is available to the public unless the court limits disclosure. He said if the concern is that sensitive identifying information is being requested on the forms, then one alternative may be to limit information requested on the qualification form to only that information required by statute.
Judge Medd suggested the Committee could consider whether ABA Standard 20 should be recommended for inclusion in Administrative Rule 9. The standard, he noted, also recommends there should be a differentiation between information collected for juror qualification and administration, and for voir dire.
Judge Paulson said there is also an issue concerning retention or destruction of juror questionnaires after the process is completed. Ted Gladden said the forms are retained during the term of the jury master list.
With respect to information requested on the form, Tom Dickson said identifying information such as street addresses is important to attorneys in a case. He cautioned against adopting a restrictive policy based on the exceptional case in which disclosure of juror information has created a problem. Judge Paulson observed that if only limited information is requested on the qualification form, then lawyers will likely try to obtain what is considered useful or identifying information during the voir dire process.
Ted Gladden noted that an approach suggested in the Hannaford article and one followed in some jurisdictions, such as Arizona, is that juror personal information is provided to the parties on the day of trial and then collected and destroyed afterward. He said the practice in this state varies significantly and in many cases juror information is made available without any limitation. Judge Paulson observed that a practice that works well in a larger jurisdiction with significant numbers of prospective jurors may not work as well in a rural state with often limited numbers of available jurors.
Tom Dickson explained that for trials in rural counties he will request court approval to conduct an extensive juror questionnaire. The questionnaire, he said, is often distributed a month in advance and with the information provided cause strikes can be handled by conference call. Having the information available beforehand, he said, can greatly decrease the time needed to impanel a jury.
In light of the discussion, Chair Medd suggested the Committee continue discussion of ABA Standard 20 at the next meeting and that Jack McDonald be invited to attend for further discussion of juror privacy issues. He requested that staff prepare a draft qualification form that requests information directed by statute and includes a separate form for more personal information.
Committee members agreed the next meeting should be in conjunction with the Judicial Conference/SBAND Annual Meeting in Medora, if possible.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 1:30 p.m.
Jim Ganje, Staff