N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R.
RULE 58. VEXATIOUS LITIGATION
1 Section 1. Purpose.
2 This rule addresses vexatious litigation, which impedes the proper
3 functioning of the courts, while protecting reasonable access to the courts.
4 Section 2. Definition.
5 (a) Litigation means any civil or disciplinary action or proceeding,
6 including any appeal from an administrative agency, any review of a referee order
7 by the district court, and any appeal to the Supreme Court.
8 (b) Vexatious litigant means a person who habitually, persistently, and
9 without reasonable grounds engages in conduct that:
10 (1) serves primarily to harass or maliciously injure another party in
12 (2) is not warranted under existing law and cannot be supported by a good
13 faith argument for an extension, modification, or reversal of existing law;
14 (3) is imposed solely for delay;
15 (4) hinders the effective administration of justice;
16 (5) imposes an unacceptable burden on judicial personnel and resources; or
17 (6) impedes the normal and essential functioning of the judicial process.
18 (c) Presiding judge means the presiding judge of a district under N.D. Sup.
19 Ct. Admin. R. 2.
20 Section 3. Pre-filing Order.
21 (a) The presiding judge may enter a pre-filing order prohibiting a vexatious
22 litigant from filing any new litigation or any new documents in existing litigation
23 in the courts of this state as a self-represented party without first obtaining leave of
24 a judge of the court in the district where the litigation is proposed to be filed. A
25 pre-filing order must contain an exception allowing the person subject to the order
26 to file an application seeking leave to file.
27 (b) A district judge or referee may, on the judge's own motion or the motion
28 of any party, refer the consideration of whether to enter a pre-filing order to the
29 presiding judge. The presiding judge may also consider whether to enter such a
30 pre-filing order on the judge's own motion or the motion of a party if the litigant
31 with respect to whom the pre-filing order is to be considered is a party to an action
32 before the presiding judge.
33 Section 4. Finding.
34 A presiding judge may find a person to be a vexatious litigant based on a
35 finding that:
36 (a) in the immediately preceding seven-year period the person has
37 commenced, prosecuted or maintained as a self-represented party at least three
38 litigations, other than in small claims court, that have been finally determined
39 adversely to that person; or
40 (b) after a litigation has been finally determined against the person, the
41 person has repeatedly relitigated or attempted to relitigate, as a self-represented
42 party, either
43 (1) the validity of the determination against the same defendant or
44 defendants as to whom the litigation was finally determined; or
45 (2) the cause of action, claim, controversy, or any of the issues of fact or
46 law, determined or concluded by the final determination against the same
47 defendant or defendants as to whom the litigation was finally determined; or
48 (c) in any litigation while acting as a self-represented party, the person
49 repeatedly files unmeritorious motions, pleadings, or other papers, conducts
50 unnecessary discovery, or engages in other tactics that are frivolous or solely
51 intended to cause unnecessary burden, expense or delay; or
52 (d) the person has previously been declared to be a vexatious litigant by any
53 state or federal court of record in any action or proceeding.
54 Section 5. Notice.
55 If the presiding judge finds that there is a basis to conclude that a person is
56 a vexatious litigant and that a pre-filing order should be issued, the presiding judge
57 must issue a proposed pre-filing order along with the proposed findings supporting
58 the issuance of the pre-filing order. The person who would be designated as a
59 vexatious litigant in the proposed order will have 14 days to file a written response
60 to the proposed order and findings. If a response is filed, the presiding judge may,
61 in the judge's discretion, grant a hearing on the proposed order. If no response is
62 filed within 14 days, or if the presiding judge concludes following a response and
63 any subsequent hearing that there is a basis for issuing the order, the presiding
64 judge may issue the pre-filing order.
65 Section 6. Appeal. A pre-filing order entered by a presiding judge
66 designating a person as a vexatious litigant may be appealed to the Supreme Court
67 under N.D.C.C. § 28-27-02 and N.D.R.App.P. 4.
68 Section 7. Supreme Court Order.
69 The Supreme Court may, on the Court's own motion or the motion of any
70 party to an appeal, enter a pre-filing order prohibiting a vexatious litigant from
71 filing any new litigation in the courts of this state as a self-represented party
72 without first obtaining leave of a judge of the court where the litigation is proposed
73 to be filed. If the Supreme Court finds that there is a basis to conclude that a
74 person is a vexatious litigant and that a pre-filing order should be issued, the Court
75 must issue a proposed pre-filing order along with the proposed findings supporting
76 the issuance of the pre-filing order. The person who would be designated as a
77 vexatious litigant in the proposed order will have 14 days to file a written response
78 to the proposed order and findings. If no response is filed within 14 days, or if the
79 Supreme Court concludes following a response and any subsequent hearing that
80 there is a basis for issuing the order, the pre-filing order may be issued.
81 Section 8. Sanctions; New Litigation.
82 (a) Disobedience of a pre-filing order entered pursuant to this rule may be
83 punished as a contempt of court.
84 (b) A judge may permit the filing in the courts of this state of new litigation
85 or any documents in existing litigation by a vexatious litigant subject to a pre-filing
86 order only if it appears that the litigation or document has merit and has not been
87 filed for the purpose of harassment or delay.
88 (c) If a vexatious litigant subject to a pre-filing order files any litigation
89 without first obtaining the required leave of a judge to file the litigation, the court
90 may dismiss the action. In addition, any party named in the litigation may file a
91 notice stating that the plaintiff is a vexatious litigant subject to a pre-filing order.
92 The filing of such notice stays the litigation. The litigation must be dismissed by
93 the court unless the plaintiff, within 14 days of the filing of the notice, obtains an
94 order from the judge permitting the litigation to proceed. If the judge issues an
95 order permitting the litigation to proceed, the time for the defendants to answer or
96 respond to the litigation will begin to run when the defendants are served with the
97 order of the judge.
98 Section 9. Roster.
99 The clerk of court must provide a copy of any pre-filing order issued under
100 this rule to the State Court Administrator, who will maintain a list of vexatious
101 litigants subject to pre-filing orders.
102 Section 10. Effect of Pre-filing Order.
103 A pre-filing order entered under this rule supercedes any other order limiting or
104 enjoining a person's ability to file or serve papers or pleadings in any North
105 Dakota State court litigation.
106 EXPLANATORY NOTE
107 Rule 58 was adopted, effective March 1, 2017; amended effective June 21, 2017.
108 SOURCES: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of May 12-13, 2016, pages 25-29.
109 Idaho Ct. Admin. R. 59.
110 STATUTES AFFECTED:
111 CONSIDERED: N.D.C.C. §§ 27-05-06, 27-05-22, 27-05-23, 28-27-02.