It was moved and seconded to approve the February 20, 2004 minutes as distributed. Motion carried.
Discussion of Policy 505
The Council reviewed the comments received on amendments to Policy 505. The issue was raised about whether all guardianships should be reopened with the filing of a report or if it should only be reopened if a hearing is scheduled in the case.
Discussion then focused on the possible need to amend the statute so there is a clear understanding that while these reports are submitted, action is not taken by the bench unless there is a motion for some judicial activity.
Ted Gladden indicated that there was a guardianship committee looking at a number of issues relating to guardianship legislation. After further discussion, it was moved and seconded that Policy 505 should be redrafted providing for reopening only when judicial activity occurs and the redraft be brought back at the next meeting. Motion carried.
Ted Gladden was instructed to visit with Roger Wetzel, who co-chairs the guardianship committee, concerning this issue and any possible legislative change. As Judge Riskedahl is a committee member, Mr. Gladden will involve him in the meeting.
Disorderly Conduct Restraining Orders
The Council next reviewed the UCIS generated restraining orders. Judge Braaten indicated there is a lack of flexibility when using the orders. Orders may be unique and the present system does not allow for checking variables that need to be included in the order. There was a sense that using a check for conditions on the computer might be more advantageous. There was a recommendation that rather than using “petitioner” in the petition, as it is not always the petitioner who is the protected party, or the interested party function in UCIS could be used. After discussion, it was concluded that a separate form should be used if an individual is petitioning on behalf of another person.
Staff was directed to modify the forms and resubmit them at the next meeting. Judge Braaten indicated that she would work with staff in redrafting the orders.
Rule 43 Waiver for Game & Fish Violations
Jim Ganje reviewed the proposed amendments to the Rule 43 Waiver form for Game & Fish violations. Judge Geiger expressed concern on behalf of Judge Christofferson that using this form for out-of-state hunters and not allowing its use in-state creates a double standard. It was indicated that the judge does not have to allow the use of the Rule 43 Waiver form. If it is used, we do need language to clarify conditions imposed with a guilty admission when violations involve Game & Fish offenses.
Staff was directed that the word “Rule 43 Waiver” should be in small print at the bottom of the form.
It was moved and seconded to circulate the revised form for comment. Motion carried.
Clerk Directions for Dealing with Self-Represented Litigants
Council then reviewed the proposed guidelines for clerks of court for dealing with self-represented litigants. Judge Schmalenberger indicated there were a number of changes that need to be made to conform the language to common North Dakota terminology. After further discussion, it was moved and seconded that staff was to circulate the clerk guidelines, as revised, for comment for the April meeting. Motion carried.
Indigent Defense Application Fee
There was sentiment that we need to inform the legislature on the need for legislation for the collection of these fees and costs. However, it was moved and seconded that the revised policy should be adopted. Nonpayment of the application fee will result in the case being reduced to civil judgment as is the case with child support arrearages. It was then moved and seconded to amend the motion that if the administrative fee is not paid in 30 days and there are no other costs or fines owing, no further action would be taken. Substitute motion carried. It was then moved and seconded to amend the language in paragraph 4 of the policy to strike the word “case” and insert “defendant’s ledger card.” Motion carried.
It was concluded that this administrative policy would be a trial court policy approved by the Council of Presiding Judges.
Judicial Ride-Along Program
Discussion then focused on the materials that were supplied on the proposed Judicial Ride-Along Program. There was consensus to move forward. Mr. Gladden requested that the Presiding Judges identify someone within each judicial district to oversee the Ride-Along Program. It was agreed that the letter should go from the Chief Justice to all legislators explaining the program and a second letter would be sent by the coordinating judge inviting the legislators to attend sessions of court. Staff was directed to redo the caseload data to be provided by judicial district, not just a statewide total. There was agreement that the implementation schedule seemed reasonable, and we should move forward with this initiative.
Proposed Amendment to N.D.R.Ct. 6.1, Continuances
Discussion then focused on a request from the Caseflow Management Committee for an amendment to Rule 6.1 having to do with continuances. It was moved and seconded that the proposed rule amendment should be forwarded to the Supreme Court for consideration. Motion carried.
District Court Collections Comparison
Susan Sisk reviewed the collections comparison for selected time periods since 2001. She indicated that collections are up in 2003 over the two preceding years. She directed attention to the increase in fines and forfeitures which has increased 7% from 2002 to 2003. This is contrary to what many felt would occur when the new administrative fee on criminal cases was implemented. The increase in the administrative fee has not reduced general revenues to the common schools trust fund. The increase is due to more emphasis on collections. She is working on a proposal to reduce our accounts receivable that will be brought to the Council in the near future.
Reappointment To Juvenile Policy Board
Ted Gladden distributed a memorandum indicating that the Council needs to fill a vacancy on the Juvenile Policy Board. He indicated that Dale Thompson, Judicial Referee, has indicated he would be willing to serve again. It was moved and seconded to reappoint Dale Thompson. Motion carried.
Trial Court Administration Report
Ted Gladden reviewed district court activities and indicated that a brief management review will be conducted in Ward County the end of March. The purpose will be to review workload in the clerk’s office due to staffing concerns that have been raised.
Ted Gladden then distributed a letter from Jim Fleming, General Counsel for the Child Support Enforcement Division, Department of Human Services. The letter suggests a creation of an administrative process for dealing with cases where the obligee is deceased or cannot be located. There was concern that this is a matter that really warrants legislation and is not something that cannot be dealt with by policy. The matter will be placed on the April Council of Presiding Judges agenda.