Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle
Judge M. Richard Geiger
Judge Benny Graff
Judge Robert Holte
Judge Debbie Kleven
Judge John Paulson
Judge Allan Schmalenberger
Judge Michael McGuire
The minutes of the February 15, 2002, meeting were approved with the amendment that Judge Geiger's motion on page 2 should read "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."
A second addition to the minutes was on page 3 to insert the word "be" in the third full paragraph, third line, so the sentence reads "It would be a collaborative effort..."
Policy 113 - Work Hours
Greg Wallace reviewed amendments to Policy 113, Work Hours. After a review of comments received and discussion, Judge Schmalenberger moved, Judge Graff seconded, that the policy be approved and submitted to the Supreme Court for consideration. Motion carried.
Services to Municipalities
Discussion then moved to the issue of allowing municipalities to abolish their municipal courts and contract for services with the district court. After discussion, it was moved by Judge Schmalenberger, seconded by Judge Paulson, that a municipality with no more than 500 administrative traffic cases per year could petition the district court to abolish its municipal court, subject to the workload of the judicial district as determined by the presiding judge. Motion carried.
Court Management Program
Greg Wallace reviewed the court management program (CMP) sponsored by the National Center for State Courts which was approved at the February meeting. There will be 20 participants from North Dakota, 17 from the trial courts, and three from the Supreme Court and state court administrator's office. The first session will be held July 17-19 in Fargo. The remaining programs will be rotated between South Dakota and North Dakota, the second program being held in October in South Dakota. In response to a question from Chief Justice VandeWalle, Mr. Wallace indicated there was broad support and enthusiasm by the trial court personnel to participate in this program.
Information Technology Plan
Kurt Schmidt reviewed the information technology plan for the 2003-05 biennium. He indicated the majority of the plan focuses on the continuation of initiatives that have already begun. Monies have been provided to expand interactive television in a total of five locations in the state. It is envisioned that four installations will be in the trial courts and one will be at the Supreme Court level. If successful, monies are projected for the 2005-07 biennium to add one more site in each judicial district. Wherever possible, services will be shared with the North Dakota Extension Service in the smaller counties. Discussions are being held to support use of the equipment for programs sponsored by the Extension Service, as well as judicial proceedings, in counties with lower case volume. This will reduce line costs significantly. Mr. Schmidt indicated the plan includes digital audio recording in two locations in the coming biennium, one in a juvenile court and one in a district court location. Greg Wallace indicated that the use of digital audio may work in reducing the length of time for cases on appeal by shortening the time required to prepare the transcript in termination of parental rights proceedings.
Chief Justice VandeWalle indicated he had requested the state Information Technology Department monitor Internet traffic for individual's accessing inappropriate sites. There will be no monitoring of e-mail as part of the request to the Executive Branch.
Budget Cycle Update
Susan Sisk provided an update of the budget cycle. Dates have been confirmed for the 03-05 budget process.
Policy 208, Establishment of Bank Accounts
Ms. Sisk then reviewed the proposed amendments to Policy 208 for the establishment of bank accounts. She indicated the policy needs to be amended to allow the establishment of separate interest-bearing accounts in conformance with N.D.R.Civ.P, Rule 67. In response to a question, she indicated the establishment of a separate account should be the exception and used only in extraordinary circumstances. The current policy works well and should be used for all but those rare cases where there are large sums involved or a need to place the money in an interest-bearing account.
It was moved by Judge Kleven, seconded by Judge Graff, and carried to approve the proposed amendments and recommend to the Court for adoption.
Policy 204, Payment of Costs in Felony Criminal Cases
Jim Ganje reviewed possible amendments to the policy. He indicated the current policy as paraphrases North Dakota statutes and questioned the need for the policy now that the county court has been eliminated and all costs in criminal cases are the responsibility of the state. After discussion, it was moved by Judge Schmalenberger, seconded by Judge Graff, to recommend the Supreme Court repeal Policy 204 with the notation that the policy is covered by North Dakota statute. Motion carried.
Policy on Employee Personnel Files
Carla Kolling reviewed a proposed policy on the maintenance and location of employee personnel files. She indicated a need to provide guidance to personnel concerning types of records maintained locally, what data should be maintained at the state level, and how parties interested in obtaining employment information are to proceed. A question was raised as to how our draft policy corresponds to statutes relating to teacher files. After considerable discussion, it was concluded the policy should be reviewed in light of present employee laws and redrafted for the June meeting.
Policy 301, Reimbursement for Meals and Lodging
Greg Wallace reviewed proposed amendments to Policy 301. The issue relates to employees being eligible for reimbursement for meals in a city where they live, but which is not their primary place of employment. In discussion, it was pointed out that judges are not paid in the city they are chambered if they are working at a different location. After further discussion, it was moved by Judge Graff, seconded by Judge Geiger, to circulate Policy 301 as amended, for comment. Motion carried.
Ted Gladden reviewed the fall docket currency report, which has not yet been forwarded to Chief Justice VandeWalle. He indicated there appears to be a problem in a number of districts in processing criminal cases within the 180 day time standard. He discussed the monitoring procedures developed in the Northeast Central judicial district to facilitate the management of criminal cases. It was pointed out that the number of methamphetamine cases continues to increase, which creates a problem for law enforcement, as well as a burgeoning workload in the state's attorneys' offices and the district courts. After further discussion, it was moved by Judge Paulson, seconded by Judge Holte, to refer the issues relating to criminal case processing to the Caseflow Management Committee for consideration. Motion carried.
District Administrative Reports
Greg Wallace indicated he would provide guardian ad litem and indigent defense costs information for the June meeting. Thirty four individuals have attended the custody investigator training program just completed. He also reviewed the bioterrorism project being coordinated under the auspices of the State Health Department. He stated the courts will be an integral part of the planning process at the state and local levels, and the responsibility will fall to the health department to ensure that plans are coordinated statewide. He indicated there have been some problems with court orders in selected areas of the state relating to the Adoption and Safe Families Act. He stated he will approach individual presiding judges based on problems with the orders that are being drafted.
Ted Gladden stated that the spring docket currency will be April 1. Letters will be sent out next week to all judges indicating the reporting cycle for the spring.
Good of the Order
Judge Kleven inquired about the status of her request for a child support calculator to be made available to judges and judicial referees. Ted Gladden stated he had visited with Pat Conrad from the Department of Human Services about a calculator being created in FASCES. It appears to be a costly undertaking if it is to be available on the main frame. Mr. Gladden and Kurt Schmidt will pursue a simple calculator that can be made available through our website.
In response to the question as to the status of the criminal judgment forms, Ted Gladden indicated he has asked computer programming staff to contact members of the working group to see if they will write the remaining narratives on the conditions. Hopefully, this can be completed within the next two weeks and the necessary programming written so the system will be operational within 30 days.
The meeting was adjourned.