Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle
Presiding Judges M. Richard Geiger
Benny A. Graff
Robert W. Holte
Michael O. McGuire
Allan L. Schmalenberger
Richard W. Grosz representing John T. Paulson
Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle called the meeting to order. Judge Debbie Kleven moved, Judge Michael O. McGuire seconded that the minutes of the November 19, 2001 meeting be approved. Motion carried.
Chair VandeWalle introduced Susan Sisk, the new Director of Finance.
Greg Wallace presented Policy 113, Work Hours. After discussion, Judge Allan L. Schmalenberger moved, Judge McGuire seconded that the policy draft be distributed for comment. Motion carried.
Discussion then focused on the misdemeanor criminal judgment forms that had been distributed for comment. The comments were reviewed. Discussion focused on some wording changes. It was suggested that the language in the condition statement that the defendant will not commit another criminal offense (either misdemeanor or felony) language should be amended to read, "The Defendant will not commit another criminal offense during the probationary period." Judge Kleven moved, Judge Geiger seconded that the forms be approved, UCIS be programmed and their use commence. Motion carried.
Susan Sisk then reviewed the 03-05 budget process outline. She indicated that after we have received firm time frames from the Executive Branch, she and Greg Wallace will be visiting each district administrative office to discuss the budget cycle.
There was some discussion on the implications of drug courts. Staffing and operating needs will need to be factored into our budget as we begin the process. Ms. Sisk then informed the Council that we had passed our state audit with no written findings. There were only two oral recommendations, and they have been complied with. The audit was successful.
Greg Wallace discussed the custody investigator training program that has been developed. The training will be conducted through the auspices of the University of North Dakota. The Council had previously approved paying for the training of custody investigators so that a panel of persons who meet the minimum standards suggested by the Supreme Court could be developed. He informed the Council that the application form for the training was on our web site and asked that judges help advertise the training. He also stated that the University of North Dakota will do background checks for the lay custody investigators prior to certifying that the individual met the minimum requirements. The actual training program will be conducted over the IVN system so that it will be delivered to multiple sites throughout the state at the same time. The actual list of custody investigators will be maintained by the State Court Administrator's Office. All judges will be notified of who has been approved on the list.
Mr. Wallace then discussed the need for standardization of reimbursement for lay guardian ad litem services. He indicated that there has been a request from Judge Lee Christofferson to raise the lay guardian ad litem fees from $15 to $25 per hour. He suggested that we should defer any adjustment until the next budget cycle. After discussion, it was agreed that we would carry over the issue of the raise for both the lay and the lawyer guardians ad litem until the next meeting. There was a consensus that we need to standardize our out-of-contract appointments at $75 per hours. Mr. Wallace is to gather more data and present his findings at the March Council of Presiding Judges meeting. Judge Geiger moved, Judge McGuire seconded that no district is to move above the present rates pending a report back from staff on the budget impact. Motion carried.
Discussion then moved to the issue of allowing municipalities to abolish their municipal courts and contract for services with the district courts. The Council was directed to the March 28, 1994 minutes indicating that the Council had placed a moratorium on any additional municipalities. Judge Benny A. Graff moved that no additional municipalities should be allowed to contract for municipal court services with the district courts. Motion died for lack of a second. Judge Schmalenberger stated that almost all municipal courts have been eliminated in the Southwest Judicial District. He indicated that there is no appreciable impact on the workload by the few cases generated by the municipalities and heard by district judges. There was concern that a process needs to be developed so that larger municipalities not be allowed to enter into contracts with the district court as their workloads could place a burden on the district court. It was suggested that the acceptance or rejection of municipal contracts should be left to the discretion of the individual presiding judge. After further discussion, staff was directed to provide a recommendation at the next meeting on how to handle the issue of municipal court contracting.
Judge Kleven then reviewed an email she had sent to Ted Gladden regarding the printing of domestic relations summary proceeding forms that are being used in the Northeast Central Judicial District. After discussion, it was agreed that since the Northeast Central Judicial District is about the only district using the forms, they will print the forms for their district's use and make them available to other districts, as requested.
Policy 201 was then reviewed. Greg Wallace indicated that the amendments to the policy would change the eligibility of juvenile court offices and clerk of court staff to have association memberships reimbursed by the judiciary. The amendments are intended to expose offices to research and materials relating to their profession. The concept had been reviewed with juvenile court officers and state-funded clerks of court and had received general approval. Judge Schmalenberger moved and Judge Graff seconded the motion to circulate the policy draft for comment. Motion carried.
Chair VandeWalle then discussed the issue of weighted caseload. He indicated that there is no provision in our weighted caseload to address drug courts and that a number of years have transpired since the last weighted caseload. Ted Gladden has contacted the National Center for State Courts regarding their recommendations on how we can proceed for updating the weighted caseload study that was conducted in 1997. Judge Kleven pointed out that she and Judge Erickson are starting to keep track of the time they spend on drug courts but that this is a matter that needs to be factored in as part of any study review. There was a consensus that we should move forward in reviewing the alternatives available to us with the National Center for State Courts.
Greg Wallace then provided a brief report on a bioterrorism conference that he and Justice Dale V. Sandstrom recently attended. He indicated that we need to take leadership in developing a response to potential bioterrorism threats. The North Dakota State Health Department has received a large federal grant to coordinate bioterrorism planning in the state.
Ted Gladden then discussed a proposed contract with the National Center for State Courts to conduct a six-part court management program (CMP) over the next three years. The program would bring Phase I of the court executive development program to our area. It would be a collaborative effort involving 20 participants from North Dakota and 20 participants from South Dakota. Mr. Gladden pointed out that it would be a financial commitment of approximately $6,600 per participant to be born by the judicial districts. This initiative is a key element in providing necessary training for our personnel. Judge McGuire moved and Judge Kleven seconded the motion to participate with South Dakota in this initiative. Motion carried.
Ted Gladden reviewed the memorandum on procedures for handling orders or warrants filed under the N.D.R.Ct. 2.2. The procedures that were distributed to the Council members were approved and Mr. Gladden was instructed to inform the clerks that when they have received a facsimile transmission of an order or warrant, it is to be date stamped and filed. When the original order or warrant is received, it is also to be dated stamped and filed in the case file. The operative date to be used will be the date of the filing of the facsimile transmission. Judge Schmalenberger moved and Judge Holte seconded a motion to distribute to clerks of district court and the Joint Procedure Committee be asked to review N.D.R.Ct. 2.2 for possible amendment to eliminate the necessity of filing the original order or warrant. Motion carried.
The meeting adjourned.