Ted Gladden called the meeting to order, asking for corrections or additions to the minutes of the March 20, 2003. Members offered some technical corrections which were approved.
Ted Gladden then reviewed Policy 506, reminding members of its importance. The judiciary, by law, can only pay for certain expenses. The line between county and state expenses can be somewhat confusing. While the policy tries to outline permissible expenditures it cannot cover every scenario. He encouraged everyone to contact the state office if there is a question. This will help eliminate problems before expenses are committed to and before the issue becomes a county/state funding issue.
Greg Wallace reviewed the recommendation relating to H.B. 1088. He reminded members that the bill imposed new fees which take effect July 1, 2003. He had attended meetings in each of the districts in the state to get input from clerks on procedures that should be followed. In most areas of the state, clerks recommended collecting restitution as the first priority of fees collected and applying the new fees to any case disposed of after July 1, 2003. Applying fees to cases disposed of after July 1, 2003, would eliminate the necessity of tracking two types of cases and applying fees in two different manners. Greg stated he was going to make the recommendation unless Jim Ganje's legal research indicated the fees could only be applied to cases filed after June 30, 2003.
Kurt Schmidt and Andrea Schmidt then reviewed the UCIS process for applying the new fees including the UCIS codes. The priority will not be finalized until the June meeting of the Council of Presiding Judges. Kurt and Andrea will issue written procedures and distribute to the clerks and administrative personnel as soon as final decisions on priorities are made. However, the codes review will not change.
Kurt then reviewed the plan to enter indigent defense assignments in UCIS. Under the new system, an assignment will be made from UCIS, which will generate a notice to the attorney. The attorney will record the hours in the case and return it to the administrative office. There was considerable discussion relating to counting cases, how to group cases under an assignment and consistent reporting. After the discussion, Ted Gladden instructed Kurt, Andrea, Doug, and Greg to develop procedures and distribute to all affected personnel.
Susan Sisk reviewed the 2003-05 budget. She reported that in comparison to some executive branch budgets, the judiciary did reasonably well. However, it is a no growth budget. With increasing costs and under-funding in certain areas the judiciary will have to be very careful this biennium. She asked for ideas for cost savings. Potential areas identified included bulk ordering of files for clerks, which Dion is working on; bulk orders of recording tapes; car pooling; and, having fewer meetings. The fiscal department is also looking at centralized purchasing of small claims packets and other items.
Susan asked that any other items be forwarded to her. She noted that out-of-state travel had been reduced significantly. Judges are now budgeted for one trip per biennium while employee travel was also reduced. There is no set policy on the travel of trial court administrative personnel, juvenile court officers, or clerks, but she advised caution in this area.
In order to save time out of the office and travel expenses, Greg Wallace and Ted Gladden proposed that the state funded clerks, trial court administrative personnel, and directors of juvenile court meet jointly twice a year. The agenda would be structured so that the individual groups meet on their agenda items and that a joint meeting of common issues be held. There was consensus of the group to try this approach.
Jim Ganje reported that the legislature eliminated clerk of court records from law relating to confidentiality of social security numbers. He stated the issue, however, is not dead. As indicated in the email from Rose Trones, there are a number of social security number related issues. At this point, the clerk is not obligated to keep the social security number confidential. Jim will continue to keep the clerks up to date as this issue proceeds.
Jim Ganje then reviewed the issue of confidentiality of addiction evaluations. Federal law may apply to certain medical records, but might not apply to records filed with the clerk of court. The issue needs further clarification.
Beck Absey reported on the criminal bail bond to the child support process and the staff time spent implementing the process. Becky reported that the pilot project seems to be working at this time without being overly burdensome on her staff.