Article VI, Section 3, of the North Dakota Constitution authorizes the chief justice of the Supreme Court to appoint a court administrator for the unified judicial system. Pursuant to this constitutional authority, the Supreme Court has outlined the powers, duties, qualifications, and term of the state court administrator in an administrative rule. The duties delegated to the state court administrator include assisting the Supreme Court in the preparation and administration of the judicial budget, providing for judicial education services, coordinating technical assistance to all levels of courts, planning for statewide judicial needs, and administering a personnel system.
The office of state court administrator, under the guidance of the Continuing Judicial Education Commission and through the director of human resources and development, develops and implements education programs for all judicial and non-judicial personnel. To supplement the education programs presently being offered, an audio and video library has been established and is housed in the Supreme Court Library. To complement this library, the University of North Dakota Law School provides additional materials upon request.
Further activities of the Commission are described in greater detail in the second part of this report which discusses the activities of the Commission.
Research and Planning
Staff services are provided to the Judicial Planning Committee and other advisory committees of the Supreme Court by staff in the office of state court administrator. The duties of these staff personnel include research, bill drafting, rule drafting, arrangement of committee meetings, and any other tasks assigned by various other committees. Specific activities and projects of the Supreme Court standing committees are provided in a latter section of this report.
To ensure uniformity in personnel administration across districts, personnel policies and a pay and classification plan for district court employees were developed under the direction of the state court administrator. This program is administered by the director of human resources and development. The Personnel Policy Board provides oversight and guidance.
One of the primary functions of the office of state court administrator is to obtain adequate financial resources for judicial operations and to manage these resources. These functions are met with fiscal personnel consisting of a director of finance, supervisor of accounting, and technical staff. With the assistance of fiscal staff, the various judicial budgets are developed for funding consideration by the Legislative Assembly. The Supreme Court budget request is developed with input from Supreme Court department heads. The Judicial Conduct Commission and Disciplinary Board budget request is developed by their staff. The district court budget is coordinated by fiscal staff and prepared by each of the seven judicial districts with a joint recommendation of approval from the Council of Presiding Judges.
A monitoring function is carried out on a monthly basis with an analysis of the budget and preparation of status reports after the monthly payroll and other expenditures have been processed. Guidance for approval of various expenditures is found in budgetary policies.
In viewing the judicial budget, it should be noted that the state funds the Supreme Court, the Judicial Conduct Commission, approximately one-half of the expenses of the Disciplinary Board, and district court expenses including 11 of the largest clerk of district court offices. The remaining clerk offices are funded by the state with a service contract, except for four counties which provide clerk of court services with county funds. Municipal courts are funded by the municipalities they serve.
The state court administrator's office is responsible for providing information technology services to the judicial branch. These services are provided through the Information Technology Department.
In addition to supporting the many standard off-the-shelf office productivity tools in use within the judicial branch, the Information Technology Department is responsible for development and support of the case management system for the district court, the unified court information system (UCIS), support of the juvenile court information system (JCMS), support of the jury management system, as well as development and support of the other various custom software systems in use within the judiciary.
The Information Technology Department provides email services to all judicial employees and contract employees, web site hosting for the state court web site (www.ndcourts.com), data server hosting for all judicial employees, and server operations and maintenance for the information system.
Through the judicial branch help desk, judicial employees can receive support, ask questions, and get problems resolved related to the information systems, software, and hardware they use.
The Information Technology Department has recently begun offering standard and custom technology training to judicial branch employees.
Total State General and Special Funds Appropriation
Executive and Legislative Branch General and Special Funds Appropriation
Judicial Branch General and Special Funds Appropriation
Total Judicial Branch General and Special Funds Appropriation $56,321,330
Salaries and Benefits $37,847,484 (67%)
Operating Expenses $14,927,084 (27%)
Equipment $1,411,050 ( 2%)
Special Purposes $2,135,712 ( 4%)
General Fund $7,603,951
Special Funds 0
TOTAL $ 7,603,951 (14%)
General Fund $36,090,693
Federal Funds 827,851
Special Funds 366,220
TOTAL $37,284,764 (66%)
Judicial Conduct Commission & Disciplinary Board
General Fund $254,512
Special Funds 273,750
TOTAL $528,262 ( 1%)
Clerk of District Court
General Fund $10,154,353
Special Funds 750,000
TOTAL $10,904,353 ( 19%)