TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
RE: Rule 20, N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R., Magistrates--Qualifications, Authority, Education and Procedures
Judge Hagerty has forwarded a request from the South Central Judicial District regarding amendment of Administrative Rule 20, the magistrate rule. Judicial Referee Robert Freed has suggested that Rule 20 be amended to give magistrates authority to handle domestic violence protection orders and disorderly conduct restraining orders.
At present, Section 5 of Rule 20 limits the duties a presiding judge can delegate to a magistrate to those listed specifically in Section 5(a). The language of the rule allows a presiding judge to delegate fewer duties or less authority than specified in Section 5(a), but there does not seem to be any language in the rule that would allow a presiding judge to delegate authority above and beyond the options set out specifically in Section 5(a).
Under N.D.C.C. Section 27-05-31, the Supreme Court has the power to dictate "the extent and assignment of authority" for magistrates. Neither N.D.C.C. 14-07.1-02, which governs domestic violence protection orders, nor N.D.C.C. 12.1-31.2-01, which governs disorderly conduct restraining orders, require such orders to be issued by a district court judge (although N.D.C.C. 14-07.1-02(1) requires a protection order action to be brought in district court). Therefore, it seems to be within the Court's authority to expand the categories of "duties and authority" that can be delegated by a district court presiding judge to a magistrate to include issuance of domestic violence protection orders and disorderly conduct restraining orders.
A proposed amended version of Rule 20, containing the recommended changes, is attached.
The Committee may wish to consider whether this proposed change to the rule constitutes a procedural change or a change in court administration. If it is an administrative change, it may be appropriate to forward the Committee's comments and recommendations to the Presiding Judges Committee rather than including them in a rules package or a direct petition to the Supreme Court.