M E M O
TO: Joint Procedure Committee
FROM: Mike Hagburg
RE: Rule 34, N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R., Rule Regarding Domestic Violence Advocates
Judge Wefald of the South Central Judicial District has recommended a change in Administrative Rule 34. Judge Wefald recommends that the rule be amended to allow domestic violence advocates to assist the court by filling out forms and draft orders. Presumably, this new language would come into play in cases where the party has no attorney and the domestic violence advocate is serving in a "representative" role.
Several domestic violence advocates have expressed concerns with this proposal. They have indicated that they are trained to understand the dynamics of domestic violence situations and violent relationships and to assist people facing these problems when they need to go to court. They are not trained, however, in law or in how to draft orders. They suggest that adding such tasks to their duties would be a burden to them. The position of the domestic violence advocates is detailed in a January 6 letter from Bonnie Palacek (copy attached).
In the Committee's recent discussion of Administrative Rule 34, it was observed that, when this rule was adopted, the legal community had serious objections to domestic violence advocates doing attorney work, which could include drafting orders. If the proposed amendment is adopted, however, the drafting of orders would seem to fall under the rule's Section 6 protective provision, which states: "When providing services pursuant to Section 4, a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate is not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law."
A version of Administrative Rule 34 containing the proposed amendments is attached.