Council of Presiding Judges
November 22, 1999
Radisson Inn, Governor's Room
Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle
Benny A. Graff, Lee A. Christofferson, Robert W. Holte, Allan L. Schmalenberger, Norman J. Backes and Judge John E. Greenwood for Presiding Judge John T. Paulson, and Judge Kirk Smith for Presiding Judge Lawrence E. Jahnke
Presiding Judge John T. Paulson but represented by Judge John E. Greenwood and Presiding Judge Lawrence E. Jahnke but represented by Judge Kirk Smith
Keithe E. Nelson, Ted Gladden, Greg Wallace and Jim Ganje.
Guests: Tera Muhlhauser and Judge James M. Vukelic
Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle called the meeting to order at 6:15 p.m. The August 19, 1999 minutes were approved as drafted.
Judge James M. Vukelic briefed on the interactive TV project. A broad based committee has been formed of users and interested parties. Rules sometimes require personal appearances and to make the project work, it will be necessary to ask the Supreme Court to waive the rules for this project. Judge Benny A. Graff moved the court be asked to waive the rules. Judge Allan L. Schmalenberger seconded the motion. Motion carried. A formal request will be drafted. Judge Vukelic announced that protocols are being drafted. One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) has been budgeted for the project. The Council of Presiding Judges voted to proceed with the project.
Ted Gladden briefed on strategies to best use the $40,000 budgeted for ADR test programs. Possible strategies are:
1. Use funds for training judges and the bar on alternatives;
2. Use funds for training judges on case management strategies, when to insert and the best type to use;
3. Training for judges on settlement conferences; and/or
4. Develop a central list of ADR people and skills.
Judge Lee A. Christofferson said the focus should be on judge and surrogate judge service. He proposed that $1,000 be transferred to the district for each case worked by a judge. Chief Justice VandeWalle commented that a protocol should be developed. No action was taken. The Supreme Court will review Judge Schmalenberger's ADR report. This item will be rescheduled for the January meeting.
Video Conference Meeting
The January 20, 2000 meeting of the Council of Presiding Judges will be by video conference. Details are in the agenda book. Time is 9:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.
Rule 8.5 N.D.R.Ct.
The Supreme Court approved extending the domestic relations summary proceedings test period to October 1, 2001. A general discussion followed.
Court Services Officer
Mary Hall requested the part-time court services officer in Fargo be increased to a full-time position. This was previously considered by the Supreme Court who referred it to the Council of Presiding Judges. Judge Norman J. Backes moved that the Council recommend to the Supreme Court that the position be made full time with the one-half FTE position previously located in Grand Forks. Judge Graff seconded the motion. Motion carried.
Foster Care Legislation
Tara Muhlhauser and Greg Wallace reported on issues related to implementing legislation brought about by the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act. Ms. Muhlhauser reported that she has completed nine regional meetings where key individuals from human services, courts, state's attorneys' offices, and indigent defense counsel met to address issues relating to foster care cases.
Ms. Muhlhauser reported that overall, the ASFA legislation was not as overwhelming as many had thought. However, she reported that delays disposing of some cases was an issue in some districts. The delays were a result of some different factors ranging from availability of judges and counsel to case scheduling practices. She also reported that she was concerned with the number of cases where termination had been carried out, but the child was not yet adopted. In a couple of districts the time that appeals take was of concern and the cost of expert witnesses was of concern in most areas of the state.
Greg Wallace asked the Council to consider establishing a working group under the Council or under the Court Improvement Project Task Force to look at juvenile court time standards, including whether they are realistic.
Judge Christofferson moved that a subcommittee be appointed to report back to the Council of Presiding Judges with time standards in foster care cases. Judge Backes seconded the motion. Motion carried. Judge Christofferson will provide suggested names to Chief Justice VandeWalle.
Ted Gladden briefed on the divergent practice among the clerks of court in handling over-the-road truck driver infractions. The policy and waiver form proposed will solve the divergent practice issue. Judge Backes moved the draft policy be approved. Judge Graff seconded the motion. Motion carried.
Domestic Violence Protection Orders
All comments received were considered in the redraft of the temporary and permanent Protection Orders. The shaded areas in the agenda book reflect the suggested changes. Jim Ganje briefed on the suggested changes and the suggestions that were not included. Judge Backes moved adoption. Judge Schmalenberger seconded and the motion carried.
Service of Protection Orders
Judge Backes brought up the problem that the temporary order terminates upon signing the permanent order, and the permanent order is not effective until served if the party is not present at the hearing. Chief Justice VandeWalle asked Jim Ganje to draft legislation to correct this problem.
The question is whether a filing is a case or a count. Ted Gladden briefed on the need for consistency. This subject will be carried over to the next meeting.
Trial Court Administration Report
Ted Gladden reported on the exchange of some clerk of court personnel between the South Central Judicial District and the Northeast Central Judicial District to see if the disparity in cases can be explained.
Ted is working on the case management process and continuances in particular.
Ted is also working on a time standard that measures the time it takes for a clerk of court to process administrative traffic cases.
Greg Wallace is working on ways to address the additional juvenile court caseload.
For the Good of the Order
Judge Christofferson asked what the February meeting is about. Chief Justice VandeWalle stated it is an education development program and that Carla Kolling should get information out.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 p.m.