It was moved and seconded to approve the March 17, 2004 minutes as distributed. Motion carried.
Rule 43 Waiver
Discussion focused on a proposed draft of the Rule 43 Waiver form for Game & Fish violations. Judge Schmalenberger indicated that it is a form that is used by the state’s attorney and that they need to be involved in any discussions. There was discussion about the process for providing a Rule 43 form to the violator. After considerable discussion, it was agreed a consistent procedure is needed. Ted Gladden was directed to prepare a cover letter to clerks of court regarding what procedures should be followed as it relates to a Rule 43 Waiver form. It was pointed out that the state’s attorney should be the legal advisor to the clerk as it relates to the processing of these cases. After further discussion, it was moved and seconded to approve the Rule 43 Waiver form, with Ted Gladden to provide a cover letter to clerks of court regarding the proper procedure to follow for its implementation. Motion carried.
Clerk of Court Guidelines for Dealing with Self-Represented Litigants
Jim Ganje reviewed the draft changes, based on the comments received, to the guidelines and instructions for clerks of court who assist self-represented litigants. Judge Geiger suggested, and Council members agreed, that a reference to “first infractions” should be included on page 21 with respect to the overstruck language. It was moved and seconded to approve the guidelines with the noted modifications. Motion carried.
A motion was then made and seconded that any subsequent amendments to the guidelines should be considered by the Trial Court Operations Committee and not brought back to the Council of Presiding Judges. There was sentiment that it was unnecessary for the Council to review any future modifications now that the basic form has been approved. Motion carried.
Disorderly Conduct Restraining Orders
Jim Ganje reviewed draft amendments to the temporary and permanent disorderly conduct restraining orders prepared with Judge Braaten’s involvement. In response to a question regarding service requirements on the temporary restraining order, it was agreed that the service requirements should be included for the temporary order as they are for the permanent order. Judge Geiger then raised the question about the inclusion of language relating to stalking offenses. After further discussion, it was moved and seconded to provide a specific reference to the statute relating to stalking to be included in both the temporary and the permanent restraining orders.
There was a sense that the space regarding premises that are included in the order needed to be expanded to provide for multiple sites. With the amendments to the premises, service provisions, and stalking provisions agreed to, it was moved and seconded to approve the forms subject to final review by the presiding judges. Motion carried.
Disbursement of Child Support Arrears If Obligee Is Deceased or Cannot Be Located
The Council then discussed the letter and attached memorandum from Jim Fleming, Deputy Director/General Counsel with State Child Support Enforcement, regarding disbursement of child support arrears if an obligee is deceased or cannot be located. Ted Gladden indicated there is interest in a possible interim policy to deal with the distribution of funds when an obligee is deceased or cannot be located. While there was a sense that this is a matter that might need legislative attention in the long run, the question is whether the Council would be receptive to an amendment to Policy 505 to permit amending of these orders by clerk personnel. After considerable discussion, it was concluded that permitting clerks to modify existing orders is not appropriate. This is a substantive legal issue, and it is a matter that should be dealt with through the Legislature or by specific motions to the court. It was concluded that Ted Gladden should contact Mr. Fleming and convey the Council’s conclusion.
Discussion then focused on proposed amendments to Policy 505 regarding when to reopen cases for the review of guardianship or conservator reports, as well as draft amendments to Chapter 30.1 concerning filing and review of annual reports. After discussion on the policy amendments, it was moved and seconded to approve the proposed language amendments contained in Policy 505. Motion carried.
Discussion then focused on the draft legislation. Questions were raised about the meaning and scope of the word “review” in the proposed amendments. There was some concern as to what the expectation is of this review and whether or not it would constitute, in the minds of some readers, that a guardianship or conservatorship has been approved by the court. There was sentiment that a review was not a guarantee and that the courts cannot define problems, which suggests that there could be some ambiguity with the use of this language. Staff then informed the Council that there would be a report to the Interim Criminal Justice Committee on April 26 based on language that had been suggested to the Guardianship Task Force. Ted Gladden indicated that there would be a general report but no specific legislation would be provided to the Interim Committee at that time. He stated that he would visit with the co-chair of the Task Force stating that there needs to be more work regarding the language with a clarification regarding what expectations are regarding the review of these reports.
There was a sense that a disclaimer should be provided when any action is taken by the court and does not constitute a full review and approval of that guardianship or conservatorship. This would only occur if an action is brought to the court through a hearing either on the court’s own motion or at the request of one of the parties.
Mr. Gladden indicated that Roger Wetzel, Co-Chair of the Guardianship Task Force, would be reporting that legislation is being worked on to address the issue of reporting and that he would also notify Mr. Wetzel of the concerns of the Council regarding the role of the court. There was a sense that if the courts are going to get into extensive review and approval of these annual reports, it very well may require additional personnel as this could become a very time consuming responsibility of the court.
In conclusion, it was agreed the language in the legislation should spell out the scope of the court’s responsibility as it relates to receipt of these reports.
Trial Court Administration Report
Ted Gladden then highlighted matters that are ongoing as part of trial court operations. He indicated that the Workload Assessment Committee of clerks of court had just reviewed and approved new staffing standards based on a time study that was conducted by the National Center for State Courts. Mr. Gladden indicated he is in the process of preparing contract letters to send to all of the counties for services during the 2005-07 biennium.
Mr. Gladden then discussed a report he made to the Judicial Process Committee on April 19. He stated that at this time, it appears there will be sufficient revenue to fund the indigent defense administration fund at the $750,000 level and also meet the $460,000 commitment to the court facilities improvement fund. There still should be approximately $400,000 to be divided equally thereafter between the two funds. We are currently averaging approximately $70,000 per month in collections for these two funds.
Mr. Gladden indicated that juvenile court management reviews are currently underway in the North Central Judicial District and the Northwest Judicial District, Ward County office. He further indicated that a report will be going to Judge McLees next week concerning the review of clerk of court operations in Ward County.
Judge Geiger indicated that Judge Donovan Foughty was on the line monitoring the activities of the Council of Presiding Judges as he has expressed interest in serving as a district judge on the new Administrative Council.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.