Present: Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle, Chair
Judge M. Richard Geiger
Judge Benny A. Graff
Judge Robert W. Holte
Judge Debbie Kleven
Judge Michael O. McGuire
Judge John T. Paulson,
Judge Allan L. Schmalenberger
Staff: Ted Gladden
Guests: Judge Frank L. Racek
Tim Fautsko, National Center for State Courts
Chris Ryan, National Center for State Courts
Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m.
It was moved, seconded, and carried that the minutes of the October 14, 2002 meeting beapproved as distributed.
Kurt Schmidt provided background on the request for the cell phone policy.He indicated that whencell phones were originally purchased it was with the understanding that they would be used foremergencies, only.Since then, their use has been extended to include work related calls.With thenumber of cell phones in use increasing, it would be beneficial to have a policy providing guidancefor the use of these phones.After discussion, it was concluded the draft needs amendment to providefor the monitoring process.Staff was directed to modify the policy proposal and bring it back at thenext meeting.
Greg Wallace discussed the issue of lay custody investigator training.He indicated that training hasbeen provided for lay custody investigators each spring.The question is whether or not the judiciaryshould supervise lay custody investigators.There was consensus the judiciary needs to set standardsfor the rate of pay for investigators.Mr. Wallace was directed to prepare standards for considerationat the next Presiding Judges meeting.He was asked to coordinate the gathering of written reportsfrom each judicial district using a questionnaire instrument in terms of the use of lay custodyinvestigators for review with the standards that will be prepared.There was a sense that if thelegislature passes a bill to move lay custody investigators to the judiciary, we would then setstandards, but we should wait until the state assumes the cost for these services.
Chris Ryan began discussion of the data that was submitted for the month of October on theweighted caseload study.He reviewed the study process and the category of cases that were includedin the study.During the discussion, it was concluded that the weight for settlement conferencesshould be about three hours.The amount of time that was reported during the limited data gatheringprocess did not provide adequate time for settlement conferences.
The issue of drug courts was then discussed.It was concluded that a flat rate for drug courts shouldbe developed and that it should not be included as a part of the weight of the criminal caseload. Discussion then focused on whether or not a variance should be included for those districts havinga large number of jury trials.Judge Graff pointed out that 35% to 40% of all jury trials are held inthe South Central Judicial District, but there is no consideration given to the high jury trial rate. Discussion focused on if a variances is provided for jury trials, should a variance also be providedin other case categories?After discussion, it was concluded that a variance should not be includedas part of the case weights.
Chris Ryan indicated that he would take the weights that have been developed and prepare a draftreport for circulation to presiding judges within two weeks.
Tim Fautsko reviewed the survey that was conducted on the sufficiency of time to conduct variousactivities in the courts.The survey results indicated that there is adequate time to carry out all theaspects related to the duties of a district judge.Out-of-district judicial assignments was discussedin the context of the impact on the workload of district judges. It was concluded that there would beno special consideration of out-of-district assignments as this was somewhat similar to the issue ofproviding a variance for jury trials.
Carla Kolling reviewed the proposed policy on access to personnel records.She sent the request toTag Anderson of the Attorney General's Office.He indicated he felt that many agencies maintainan official personnel plus a working file within their regional offices.It was requested that the policybe amended to provide language for a working file at the local level.With the proposed amendedlanguage it was moved, seconded, and carried to approve the policy for distribution.
The proposed policy on district court staffing standards was reviewed by Greg Wallace.Heindicated that there is a need for standards in terms of staffing decisions related to filling vacanciesoccurring within the trial courts.Discussion focused on Section 5d as it relates to staffing for thejuvenile court offices.The question was how many juvenile court offices were included, and whatwas the staffing level that was to be provided?Mr. Wallace was directed to add a section relatingto staffing support for administrative assistants and to clearly identify that juvenile court officesincluded the 12 offices currently in operation.After further discussion, it was moved, seconded,and approved to adopt the policy with the language changes outlined to staff.
Greg Wallace reviewed the indigent defense application fee and recoupment report.He indicatedthat there is a problem in some districts in terms of the appointment rates and that this was an areathat needs to be addressed.Ted Gladden pointed out that the purpose of the report was to providea regular quarterly report on any problems or issues relating to indigent defense services, generally,the payment or recoupment of indigent defense fees, and the charging of the indigent defenseapplication fee.It had been requested in the past that recoupment fees be included as part of theregular budget report.Mr. Gladden stated that a quarterly report would provide a comprehensivereport of all judicial districts.There was considerable discussion around the use of administrativepersonnel for the review and approval of indigent defense applications.There was a consensus thatjudges, with the provision of guidelines, could assign this task to administrative or clerk personnel. This approach has been done for some time in the Southwest Judicial District.Greg Wallace wasdirected to develop a process for the movement of the review and approval of indigent defenseapplications to administrative personnel.He will provide an outline of how he is going to proceedto the presiding judges within two weeks.
Ted Gladden reviewed the issue of the payment of psychological evaluations.The issue relates toa defendant who was directed to have a psychological evaluation but had retained counsel.The issueis who should pay for the evaluation, the state or the county?After discussion, staff was directedto prepare a policy that would include all of those services that would be paid for by the state.If theservice is not provided in the policy, prior approval would need to be obtained.It was moved,seconded, and approved that staff would provide the draft policy at the next presiding judgesmeeting.
Greg Wallace discussed the proposed juvenile court management review process.He indicated thathe wanted to proceed with a review process, similar to that which has been used in the clerk ofdistrict court offices.He proposes that he will develop a written process with flowchart byDecember 30, 2002, for the reviews that will include secretarial and clerical services, case processingstandards, scheduling activities, general case management, the role of the juvenile court office as itrelates to the state's attorney's office, and compliance with time in the Adoption and Safe FamiliesAct.
Phase I to visit four or five juvenile court offices to identify the process and the elements of the on-site review will be completed by December 31, 2002.This will provide the guide for allmanagement reviews.From January 1-15, 2003, the proposed scope of the study will be circulatedto all juvenile court offices for review and comment.From January 15, 2002 through April 30, 2004,12 on-site visits will be conducted and written reports will be provided for each of the offices.Thewritten reports will be provided within two weeks of the on-site review, and all recommendationswill be tied to existing policies, procedures, court rules, or state law.Any issues that are identifiedwill be brought to either the Juvenile Policy Board or the Council of Presiding Judges.
Ted Gladden discussed the letter that he had received from Mr. Mike Lefor, of DCI Credit Services,outlining a proposal that the state collection agencies were interested in pursuing legislation thatwould provide for a reduced filing fee for civil cases if the judgment amount is $200 or less. Collection agencies are seeking to obtain a reduced filing fee of $30.While correspondenceindicated that they were anticipating somewhere between 200 and 230 civil cases being filed eachmonth, Mr. Lefor had informed Mr. Gladden that based on a conference call with his membership,that number could be as high as 400 cases per month.Mr. Gladden used the WAPC formula forsmall claims cases, excluding trial time, to determine the estimated staff time necessary to carry outthe filing and docketing functions for default civil cases where civil judgments would be $200 orless.Based on the WAPC formula, it would take 2.36 personnel statewide.The impact on the 11state-funded offices would be 1.65 personnel.
Mr. Gladden was directed to send a letter to Mr. Lefor indicating that the Council of PresidingJudges take no position on this proposed concept but that position should not be interpreted assupport for the proposal.
Ted Gladden reviewed the spring 2002 docket currency report with the Council of Presiding Judges.He indicated that the caseload is in very good shape and thanked the presiding judges as well as thestaff in each of the counties for the work they are doing in terms of monitoring and managing thetrial court's workload.
Discussion was raised over the appearance of jurors.Judge Geiger indicated that JudgeChristofferson stated that the original intent of the increased juror fees was to be limited to thesecond day of a jury trial, only.After discussion, it was concluded that the districts should movetoward one appearance or one trial for jurors to address the issue of jurors being called to thecourthouse more than once a day, thus increasing the costs for jury attendance.Mr. Gladdenindicated that reducing the length of jury service does add to the staff work but it also means thatpeople are processed through the system more expeditiously.Shorter service lengths is well receivedby prospective jurors.
No further action was contemplated.Meeting adjourned.