N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R.
ADMINISTRATIVE RULE 54. SAFE COURTROOM FIREARMS HANDLING
Section 1. Purpose.
This rule provides guidelines for the safe handling of firearms in North Dakota's district and municipal courts.
Section 2. Scope.
These procedures apply to all firearms to be offered into evidence that are brought into a court building or a courtroom. These procedures do not apply to firearms carried or worn by police officers and court bailiffs.
Section 3. Firearm Must Be Unloaded.
All firearms in the court building and court room must be unloaded and empty.
Section 4. Firearm Must Be Open.
All firearms in the court building and court room must be open. Open means:
(A) the clip or magazine removed;
(B) all bullets removed from the cylinder;
(C) the bullet removed from the chamber;
(D) if a semi-automatic pistol, the barrel slid back;
(E) if a revolver, the cylinder swung out;
(F) if a single or double barrel shotgun, the barrel broken open;
(G) if a semi-automatic rifle or shotgun, the chamber slide or cocking lever in open position.
Section 5. Incapacitating Device.
If possible, an incapacitating device must be attached to any firearm to be offered into evidence. Incapacitating devices include:
(A) A long hasp lock, when the hasp of the lock is inserted in the open breech of the firearm making it physically impossible to chamber and fire a round in the firearm; and
(B) A lock and cable, when the cable is inserted into the open breech of the firearm making it physically impossible to chamber and fire a round in the firearm.
A trigger lock is not an incapacitating device.
Section 6. Display of Firearm.
No firearm may be displayed to the jury until the time it is shown to the witness designated to establish foundation for its admission into evidence. If a party seeks to show a firearm in an opening statement, a photograph of the firearm, not the firearm itself, must be used.
Section 7. Custody of Firearm.
Firearms and ammunition brought into a court room to be offered into evidence must be given to and left in the custody of the clerk of court at all times other then when they are being handled by prosecutors, defense attorneys or witnesses. Firearms must never be left on a counsel table. During recesses of the court firearms, must be:
(A) under the direct visual supervision of the clerk of court or bailiff; or
(B) locked in a secure drawer, cabinet or closet.
Section 8. Pointing Firearm. Firearms must be pointed either at the ceiling or floor. No firearm may be pointed at the jury, judge, court personnel or spectators.
Section 9. Final Argument; Notification and Approval Required. Parties who wish to use firearms admitted into evidence for demonstrative purposes in final argument must:
(A) notify the court of the intended use;
(B) state how they intend to use the firearm; and
(C) obtain the permission of the court for such use.
Section 10. Firearm and Ammunition Kept Separate. A firearm and ammunition may never be given to a witness or to the jury at the same time. Firearms and ammunition may never be placed or left together on the counsel table.
Section 11. Exceptions to Rule. In the discretion of the trial judge, and subject to appropriate safety measures, the court may permit a departure from this rule.
Rule 54 was adopted effective ________________.
Section 4 requires the condition of a firearm to be such that a visual inspection will indicate immediately that the firearm is unloaded and secured.
Under Section 5, trigger locks are not considered incapacitating devices because in some cases it is physically impossible to see if a firearm is secured with a trigger lock. More importantly, if a firearm secured by a trigger lock has a round in the chamber and is dropped and lands on the hammer, the firearm could discharge.
Section 10 is intended to ensure that a firearm and its ammunition are always kept separate. If a jury seeks to examine a firearm and related ammunition in the jury room, the jury may do so but the firearm and ammunition may never be sent into the jury room at the same time. The firearm may be given to the jury for examination first and, after the jury is done examining it, the jury must inform the bailiff and pass out the firearm. Only after this is done may the bailiff give the jury the ammunition for examination.
Under Section 11, the court may allow a demonstration that may be helpful to the jury in resolving a factual issue.
SOURCES: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of ________________ pages ______.