Council of Presiding Judges
April 15, 1999
Present: Chief Justice VandeWalle, Presiding Judges Backes, Christofferson, Holte, Paulson, Jahnke (last half of meeting - medical conflict 1st half), Judge Hagerty (representing Judge Graff).
Absent: Judges Schmalenberger and Graff (represented by J. Hagerty).
Others Present: State Court Administrator Nelson, Trial Court Staff Wallace, Gladden; OSCA Staff Thielges, Ganje.
Chief Justice VandeWalle called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m. The minutes of the March 5 meeting were approved as drafted. Judge Christofferson suggested the Council try using the State Interactive TV network for a meeting in the future. Judge Paulson moved it be set for a January 2000 meeting. Approved by consensus.
Jana Thielges briefed on the status of the 1997-99 biennium budget. She announced there was a shortage of equipment money in some of the districts and that a line item transfer should be considered. The amounts needed are as follows:
Northeast Central Judicial District -- $24,000
Northeast Judicial District -- $17,000
Northwest Judicial District -- $0
Southwest Judicial District -- $0
South Central Judicial District -- $10,000
East Central Judicial District -- $76,567
Southeast Judicial District -- $0
Judge Backes moved that the Supreme Court be asked to approve these line item transfers. Judge Holte seconded. Carried.
Keithe Nelson briefed on the 1999/01 approved budget. Highlights follow: Judges and employee pay was approved for increases of 2% and 2%. The operating and equipment lines were increased by 3% over the current budget but increased federal grants and special fund increases reduce the real increase to 1%. Clerk of court funding was approved in the amount of $1 million with a start date of April 1, 2001. Indigent defense was increased by an additional 4% (total 5%) in the amount of $135,000, integrated case management project $460,000. The Supreme Court is to pay the Highway Patrol $30,000 for court security, $80,000 as a pass through to CLR, and two new law clerks were approved. Finally, the Supreme Court was directed to develop a formula for the equitable distribution of indigent defense distribution.
Ted Gladden briefed on the change proposed. This will create mandatory procedures for closing supervised trusts to follow the procedures in bankruptcy and probate cases. The suggestions made at the last meeting have been incorporated into the draft. Judge Christofferson suggested that it is normally the trustee who petitions and not a beneficiary. Jim Ganje noted the language tracks the statute. Other changes were suggested. Judge Christofferson moved it be sent out for comment after the discussed changes are incorporated. Judge Paulson seconded the motion. Carried.
Policy 508 (Legal Research Committee)
Keithe Nelson reported only one comment was received and that comment was that we don't need any more committees. Judge Christofferson moved the policy be approved. Judge Backes seconded. Approved. Keithe Nelson was directed to send a notice to the presiding judges soliciting nominations.
Ted Gladden briefed on the two demonstrations that have been given at Dickinson. The last demonstration is scheduled for next week.
Keithe Nelson briefed on the two comments received and included in the agenda book. Considerable discussion followed. The main concern was that this would collect money but not resolve the infraction. Judge Paulson moved adoption of the fee schedule. Judge Holte seconded. Carried.
Greg Wallace briefed on the changes. The changes are underlined in the agenda book. Judge Christofferson moved adoption of the changes in Sections 2 and 11 only. Judge Paulson seconded. Carried.
Greg Wallace briefed on the three options outlined in the handout. The calculations are based on three separate approaches; 1) caseload, 2) assignments, 3) population. The final formula is an integrated formula using all three methods. Judge Backes moved adoption of the combined formula. The motion died for lack of a second. Judge Paulson moved the issue be discussed in a telephone conference call in ten days. Judge Hagerty seconded. Carried. The telephone conference call will be at 8:15 CDT on Monday, April 26, 1999. Staff was directed to prepare several options and mail the options out in advance.
Ted Gladden reported the districts overall are doing better in docket currency. He asked the presiding judges to ensure the administrative personnel monitor cases on a regular basis and discuss problems with individual judges rather than wait for the docket currency cycle.
Ted Gladden encouraged the districts to serve parties by first class mail whenever possible, as provided by North Dakota Court Rules, rather than by personal service by the sheriff. The process is working well in the districts using first class mail. The response is as good as personal service where it is used.
Greg Wallace reported he is still working on juvenile court staffing standards and he hoped to complete it shortly.
Ted Gladden handed out the jury utilization report. We are improving, but too many cases are still being settled on the day of trial.
Judge Christofferson asked that the Council permit Judge Schmalenberger, Judge Holte and Judge Christofferson be given a chance to determine who gets the two law clerks. There was agreement by consensus.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:10 p.m.