Ted Smith, Chair;
Hon. Gail Hagerty;
Hon. James Hovey (partial meeting);
Petra Mandigo Hulm;
Hon. Lisa Fair McEvers;
Sally Holewa, Ex Officio
Amy Klein, Staff
Renee Barnaby, Minutes
Chair Smith called the special meeting to order at 7:30 a.m.
Lead Court Reporter/Lead Electronic Court Recorder Classifications
It was moved by Judge Hagerty, seconded by Ross Munns, to approve the lead court reporter and lead court recorder job classifications.
Judge Hagerty said with regard to the lead court recorder classification, some have expressed concern that there should not be a requirement for realtime reporting and others have asked that consideration be given to adding a two-year requirement to the passage of the AAERT test because the test is not given that frequently. She said she initially included language on the realtime requirement and the AAERT certification because she views this position as having a large role in training.
It was moved by Judge Hagerty, seconded by Ross Munns, to amend the Certification and Licensing Requirements section of the lead court recorder classification as follows: Certification or License Requirements (prior to job entry): Certification as Registered Professional Reporter and Real-Time reporter . Passage of AAERT (court recorder) examination within two years of appointment.
In response to a question asking if the words “prior to job entry” should be removed from the lead electronic court recorder classification, Ms. Holewa said the minimum qualifications require five years of experience so the assumption would be they would have received the certification within the two-year requirement of the electric court recorder classification.
Justice McEvers said it was her understanding that some of the presiding judges were not in favor of supervising the proposed classifications. Judge Hagerty suggested the title of immediate supervisor could be changed to presiding judge or delegee.
Justice McEvers stated as long as the positions are optional, most of the judges she spoke with were not opposed to the classifications. Some districts do not feel they have a need for the positions. Judge Hagerty said they might find over time that the court administrator does not want to continue to do the job. She said for the South Central District, the benefit is the court reporters/recorders work together to make those decisions. Even if you cannot get judges to do things the same way, when the court reporters/recorders have some buy-in, things work out better procedurally.
Carolyn Probst said in the North Central District, the court reporter and recorders are not in favor of the classifications because it is so much responsibility and they all currently work together with court administration to cover these areas. In the Northwest District, they were interested in the position for scheduling purposes and for providing consistency. As mentioned earlier, as long as there is discretion in having the positions, it does not create an issue.
Ms. Hulm said she spoke with a few judges who expressed the concern that they would get overruled by this position. Ms. Holewa said that has to be the intent because you cannot have someone who has the authority to approve something and then have judges who overrule the decision because they do not want to send their reporter/recorder somewhere else. Judge Hagerty added that sometimes there is a wrong expectation that they do not have to be part of a team and they are just working for one judge. She said her biggest reason for wanting to do this is to recognize the work that is being done by a few individuals so we don’t burn them out.
Chair Smith said under duty No. 2 on the lead court reporter classification, it refers to providing training on the Case Catalyst software. He questioned if it should also be added to the lead electronic recorder description. Judge Hagerty replied it should not be because that is the court reporting software.
Chair Smith proposed some grammatical changes as follows: under the General Summary or Purpose section for both classifications, because the first sentence ends with “is responsible for:”, he suggested modifying items three and four to begin with “assisting” and “conducting”. He also suggested under the Duties section, that the wording be changed to the same tense throughout (for example “Coordinating” should be “Coordinates”, etc.), and the word “Trial” be removed when referring to the Court Administrator. Ms. Klein also noted the correct term for court recorder is “electronic court recorder.”
Ms. Hoffer said currently in her area, the judge approves leave for his or her court reporter/recorder, and in the proposed classifications, it says the lead person is the one responsible for approving leave. Judge Hagerty said that around the state it is quite common for the court administrator to approve leave rather than the judge. She said long ago when a judge was gone, the court reporter/recorder was on vacation and vice versa but that is no longer the case. The court reporter or recorder cannot be gone without visiting with the lead in order to make sure everything is covered.
Ms. Hulm said two of the judges she spoke with had concerns about morale or animosity issues toward the lead position or amongst the areas that do not fill the position. Judge Hagerty responded if it is a person who does not work well with others, there could be problems and then the presiding judge will have to handle it. Districts do not have to use the position and if they are happy not using it, she is uncertain why they would resent someone else using it. Justice McEvers said the judges she spoke with were also concerned about morale between reporters who had this position and those who did not, but they did not have an objection to the position as long as it was optional.
With the consent of the second, the original motion was amended to include the suggested changes above to the proposed job classifications. The motion carried with one person voting no. The classifications will be forwarded to the Supreme Court for consideration.
Lead Court Reporter or Lead Electronic Court Recorder Procedures
Sally Holewa said at the last meeting the Board had several discussions about how the process would work with appointing an already existing employee to the new position. She said she and Amy Klein have developed the proposed procedures for the Board’s review. It will be an internal document and not a formal policy. She said section A states that all policies except as noted would apply. Under section B, Recruitment & Selection, the job would be posted internally only and veteran’s preference would not apply. Unless there is a performance issue or the person resigns from the position, the appointment would continue if a new presiding judge is elected. Under section C, Salary Administration, the person would receive the promotion the same as is outlined for other classified employees. If there is a performance issue or the person resigns from the position, the person would return to the previous pay grade and their salary would be frozen. Under section D, Corrective Action, the same procedures would apply as it does for other employees under the Corrective Action policy.
Ms. Hoffer said without Ms. Holewa’s explanation, the procedures as written are not real clear and questioned if there was a way to improve the language so that an independent person reading through it would understand it. She suggested including references to the policies that apply.
Ms. Hulm questioned if the person is demoted or voluntarily resigns, if their salary would be frozen rather than rolling back. Ms. Holewa stated that is the current practice of the court system.
Chair Smith suggested rewording the first sentence under section C.2. to read as follows: “An employee who ceases to act as the lead returns to the employee’s previous reporter or recorder pay grade.”
It was the consensus of the Board to approve the procedures.
[Judge Hovey joined the meeting]
It was moved by Judge Hagerty, seconded by Ross Munns, to approve the pay grade exception for the lead court reporter position and forward it to the Chief Justice for consideration. The motion carried.
The meeting adjourned.