|N.D. Supreme Court|

Gender Fairness Implementation Committee

Gender Fairness Implementation Committee
Supreme Court Conference Room, Bismarck
July 20 , 2006

Members Present
Justice Mary Muehlen Maring, Chair
Pat Durick
Jim Fitzsimmons
Judge Burt Riskedahl
Barbara Voglewede

Members Absent
Judge Debbie Kleven

Others Present
Nicole Frank, Summer Intern Law Clerk,
Legal Services of ND

 Chair Maring called the meeting to order at 8:30 a.m. and drew Committee members' attention to AttachmentB (July 14, 2006)- minutes of the May 18, 2006, meeting.

 It was moved by Barbara Voglewede, seconded by Judge Riskedahl, and carried that the minutes be approved.

10 Year Assessment Report - Revised Draft

 Staff briefly reviewed the revisions to the draft report reviewed at the May 18 meeting. He said the revisions, set out in italics, consist of responses from judicial system employees and judges, judicial referees, and surrogate judges. With respect to the latter - responses from "judicial officers" - he said additional responses had been received after the mailing of Committee material. He noted that the response rate for judicial officers was approximately 50%. He said the redraft of the report to be reviewed at the August 11 meeting would include additional responses from judicial officers, as well as inclusion of some additional material from the discussion group results.

 Chair Maring then requested comments from Committee members concerning the revised draft and any suggested further changes.

 Barbara Voglewede said the revised draft appears comprehensive in addressing information gathered through the process and is informative. She said she appreciated inclusion of more examples of responses and the summaries prefacing the responses appear to clearly articulate the general sense of the responses. With respect to additional changes, she asked whether the report would include a summary section to provide an overview of what has been learned during the assessment and perhaps a section about what is hoped to be accomplished in the future.

 Staff noted that a summary section of sorts would be included in the next draft and any agree-upon recommendations would be included as well.

 Chair Maring said the report should likely include some concrete recommendations beyond what might be considered the obvious ones such as continuing education programs. She said a particular area of concern that emerged from the questionnaire responses and discussion groups was the domestic violence protection order process. She suggested at least one recommendation could be a possible review of the protection order process and related statutes through a task force or some other group.

 Barbara Voglewede noted that the Domestic Violence Benchbook is in the process of being updated and that could be noted on page 4 of the revised draft. Additionally, she drew attention to the reference on page 5 to the Committee's effort to assemble information from those "generally representative of participants in the judicial process" and asked whether there should be a recommendation for a more comprehensive, broadly focused information gathering process. She said a recommendation for a more comprehensive survey in the future when funding is available may help to allay any concerns about the limited nature of the assessment process. Justice Maring agreed that a recommendation for a broader survey effort in the future would be useful.

 Jim Fitzsimmons expressed support for a task force to review the entire protection order process. He said the general message from the report should be that the current process appears flawed and creates problems for both genders and between both genders.

 Chair Maring asked for any further suggestions for revisions to the draft report.

 Barbara Voglewede said she had several minor suggestions that she would send to staff. Additionally, she asked whether, because the report is rather lengthy, it would be beneficial to include a segment, perhaps on page 6, that sets out a general overview of findings. She said a summary of responses in each area may also be helpful.

 Judge Riskedahl said the revised report, with the italicized additions, seems to capture the general tenor of what was heard at the various discussion meetings. He agreed with the other suggested additions to the report. Pat Durick also agreed with the suggested additional changes.

 Jim Fitzsimmons said it may be interesting to include information concerning how the makeup of the judiciary has changed since the Commission's report in 1996.

 Chair Maring noted the intention to present a summary of the report at the Bench & Bar Seminar in September. Beyond that, she said, possible methods of disseminating information from the report include perhaps a GAVEL article, posting on the Web, or other public information vehicles. She wondered whether there would be any interest in including the report in an edition of the Law Review. Barbara Voglewede said she would contact the Law Review staff.

 Chair Maring asked that Committee members give thought to other avenues of publicizing the report and forward any further suggested revisions or possible recommendations for discussion at the August 11 meeting.

Next Meeting

 The Committee's next meeting is scheduled for Friday, August 11.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:20 a.m.

Jim Ganje, Staff