Administrative Rule 7.2 - NORTH DAKOTA RULE REGARDING DISPOSITION OF JUDGESHIP VACANCIES
Section 1. Authority.
Under the authority of the Supreme Court provided in N.D. Const. art. VI, § 3 and N.D.C.C. § 27-05-02.1, this rule provides procedures for the disposition of a vacancy in the office of district court judge and a determination of the office's proper location for purposes of fulfilling a need for judicial services.
Section 2. Vacancy Notification—Hearing.
1. a. Upon notification by the Governor of a vacancy in the office of district court judge, the Supreme Court may refer the matter to a hearing officer or a hearing panel of three persons.
b. The Supreme Court, instead of or in addition to the referral provided for in subdivision (a), may grant to interested parties the opportunity to submit written comments directly to the Supreme Court or appear at an oral hearing before the Supreme Court.
c. If the opportunity for submission of written comments or appearance at an oral hearing is provided pursuant to subdivision (b), the Supreme Court shall fix the time, place, and conditions for the oral hearing or submission of written comments. The Supreme Court shall keep an audio or written transcript record of the proceeding. Notice of the hearing must be given to the presiding judge of the judicial district in which the judgeship is located and the board of county commissioners of the county in which the judgeship is located. Notice of the hearing must also be published once in a newspaper of general circulation in each of the affected counties.
2. In addition to any hearing or submission of written comments provided pursuant to subsection (1), the Supreme Court shall consult with the judges and attorneys of the affected judicial district on the issue of whether the office is necessary for effective judicial administration. The consultation must be in a manner deemed suitable by the Supreme Court and notice of the manner of consultation must be given to the affected judges and attorneys.
3. Any person interested in the disposition of a vacancy in the office of district court judge may file with the Clerk of the Supreme Court written comments regarding the preferred disposition of the vacancy. The written comments must state the grounds for the preferred disposition and should be accompanied by supporting documentation addressing the criteria in Section 4.
Section 3. Hearing Before a Hearing Officer or Hearing Panel.
1. If the matter is referred to a hearing officer or hearing panel pursuant to subsection (1)(a) of Section 2, the hearing officer or hearing panel shall hold a hearing in the affected chambers within a reasonable period of time. The hearing must be open to the public. Public notice of the hearing must be given once in a newspaper of general circulation in each of the affected counties.
2. The hearing officer or hearing panel shall consider all evidence and information submitted in the proceeding and shall visit the court facilities in all affected locations.
3. The hearing officer or hearing panel shall consider a report on the application of the criteria in Section 4 to the matter as prepared by the court administrator of the administrative unit in which the judgeship is located or, in an administrative unit that does not have a court administrator, another person designated by the presiding judge of the judicial district in which the judgeship is located.
4. The report of a hearing panel must include any written minority position of hearing panel members.
5. The hearing officer or hearing panel shall keep an audio or written transcript record of all proceedings. The hearing officer or hearing panel shall make written findings of fact and conclusions, and, if directed to do so by the Supreme Court, recommendations with respect to the proceeding. The findings of fact and conclusions, and recommendations, if made, of the hearing officer or hearing panel must be entered in the record.
6. The hearing officer or hearing panel, within 30 days after the conclusion of its hearing, shall submit to the Clerk of the Supreme Court a report containing its findings of fact and conclusions, and recommendations, if made, together with the audio or written record of the proceedings for review by the Supreme Court.
Section 4. Criteria.
The hearing officer or hearing panel, or the Supreme Court, or both, shall consider evidence regarding the following criteria concerning disposition of the vacancy:
2. Caseloads and unusual case types;
3. Trends in 1 and 2;
4. Impact of proposed vacancy disposition on travel requirements;
5. Age or possible retirement of remaining judges in the affected judicial district; and
6. Availability of facilities (e.g., law enforcement, correctional, and court facilities).
Section 5. Decision by Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court shall review the record of the proceedings and file a written order concerning the disposition of the vacant office and whether the vacant office is necessary for effective judicial administration in its present location.
Section 6. Citation.
The North Dakota Rule Regarding Disposition of Judgeship Vacancies may be cited as NDRDJV.
Section 7. Effective Date.
The effective date of this rule, as amended, is October 1, 2010.
[Adopted effective February 1, 1992; amended effective January 1, 1995; amended effective October 1, 2010]