NORTH DAKOTA JUDICIAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
SECTION 1. POLICY.
The North Dakota Judicial System policy is to promote the self-improvement of judicial officers by establishing a mandatory judicial improvement program that assists each judicial officer in improving judicial performance and conduct in order to enhance the effective and efficient performance of judicial duties.
SECTION 2. APPLICATION.
This rule applies to all judicial officers. For purposes of this Rule, "judicial officer" means justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the District Court, and judicial referees. This rule does not apply to surrogate judges or judges of the municipal courts.
SECTION 3. IMPLEMENTATION.
A.Except for the compiling and summarizing of survey results, the judicial improvement program will be managed by trial court administrative personnel designated by the presiding judge in each judicial district with respect to surveys regarding district court judges and judicial referees, and by personnel designated by the Chief Justice with respect to surveys regarding justices of the Supreme Court.
B.Approved forms must be used throughout the state as the minimum survey document to provide comments to the individual judge. A judicial officer may add additional questions to the survey concerning the judicial officer. The Judiciary Standards Committee will maintain a list of additional questions as a resource. The forms may be modified periodically, but all questions, except those concerning the number of times a person has had contact with the subject judicial officer, must elicit qualitative, non-numerical responses.
C.Lists of attorneys and court personnel to be surveyed may be generated by personnel designated under Section 3A. Judicial officers are urged to maintain a list of attorneys appearing before them and court personnel working with them prior to the survey period, so as to reduce the burden of generating such a list by trial court personnel. The list should include as many attorneys and court personnel appearing before or working with the judicial officer in the 12 months immediately preceding the survey as possible. The time period may be shortened in areas with high numbers of appearances.
D.Surveys must be mailed to the survey respondents by personnel designated under Section 3A. The subject of the survey must not receive or see the completed survey document. The subject judicial officer shall select another judicial officer or other person, or both, who will review the survey results with the judicial officer. The subject judicial officer shall provide the name of the reviewer to personnel designated under Section 3A, who shall notify the entity identified in Section 3E.
E.The Supreme Court shall contract with an independent entity for purposes of receiving and summarizing survey information, and transmitting survey summaries to reviewers. All survey responses must be sent to the entity in an envelope provided for that purpose. Upon receiving the survey results, the entity shall summarize the responses and provide a summary to the reviewer selected by the subject judicial officer. The summary should separately reflect information provided by attorneys and by court personnel unless, based on the number of responses, segregating the information may result in identification of survey respondents.
F.Upon receiving the survey summary, the reviewer shall review the information with the subject judicial officer and make recommendations to aid in improving judicial performance.
SECTION 4. FREQUENCY OF SURVEYS.
Judicial improvement surveys must be conducted within two years following the election of the subject judicial officer unless the judicial officer is a referee, in which case the surveys must be conducted during each four year period following the referee's appointment. Only one survey for each judicial officer is required during each term of office or four year period, but a judicial officer may elect to have surveys conducted more frequently.
SECTION 5. CONFIDENTIALITY -- DISPOSITION OF SURVEY RESULTS.
Survey results, summaries, and any reports are confidential and shall not be disclosed except as provided in this rule. The subject judicial officer shall not publicly disclose information resulting from the review conducted under Section 3F. The reviewer shall not disclose survey summary information to anyone other than the survey subject. Following completion of each survey process, the reviewer shall return the summary information to the entity described in Section 3E. After the return of the survey summary, the entity shall immediately destroy the summary, along with any related survey information. The entity shall not retain any survey information concerning a subject judicial officer after completion of the survey process.
This rule is amended effective March 1, 2005.
Dated at Bismarck, North Dakota, December 8, 2004.
Gerald W. VandeWalle, Chief Justice
William A. Neumann, Justice
Dale V. Sandstrom, Justice
Mary Muehlen Maring, Justice
Carol Ronning Kapsner, Justice
Penny Miller, Clerk