|Members Present |
Judge David Nelson, Chair
Judge Debbie Kleven
|Members Absent |
Kay Newell Braget
Chair Nelson called the meeting to order at 3:05 p.m. and welcomed members to the Committee's organizational meeting.
Selection of Membership Terms
In accordance with Policy 513, the following initial terms for members were determined by lot: Chair Nelson - 1 year; Kay Braget - 1 year; Dough Johnson - 2 years; Deb Simenson - 2 years; Ted Gladden - 3 years; Judge Kleven - 3 years; and Paulette Reule - 3 years.
Review of Policy 513
Chair Nelson next drew Committee members' attention to previously distributed Policy 513, which governs the Committee's composition and responsibilities. He noted that he is not a presiding judge and that the policy requires that a presiding judge be appointed as chair. Committee members agreed it was likely unnecessary for a presiding judge to serve as chair.
It was moved by Ted Gladden, seconded by Doug Johnson, and carried unanimously that the Committee recommend to the Council of Presiding Judges that Policy 513 be amended to simply provide that a district judge be appointed as chair.
Committee members then reviewed committee responsibilities identified under Policy 513, Section 3A. With respect to developing and maintaining a current clerk of court procedures manual, it was noted that the present manual was revised in 1998. Staff said the most significant section of the manual that requires further attention is that part pertaining to child support enforcement. He said recent statutory changes, e.g., adoption of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, and implementation of FASCES likely would require the involvement of those regularly involved in state child support enforcement in any review of the section.
Paulette Reule observed that she and Deb Simenson maintain procedural desk manuals in their respective clerks' offices which address in-district procedures and UCIS requirements concerning clerk operations. She said she rarely uses the clerks' manual because it is incomplete with respect to UCIS procedures.
Judge Kleven stressed that a current and complete clerk manual, with clear orocedural guidance, is a benefit not only to clerk staff but also to lawyers in providing uniform practices from county to county and district to district. Paulette Reune said consistent procedures also are helpful to judges who travel from county to county hearing cases.
Ted Gladden noted one suggestion has been that UCS procedures be incorporated where possible in the clerks manual.
Following further discussion, it was moved by Judge Kleve, seconded by Paulette Reule, and carried unanimously that the Committee begin the process of reviewing and revising the current clerk of court manual. It was agreed that segments of the manual would be reviewed at each future Committee meeting and that comments would be solicited from clerks of court regarding their concerns or suggestions concerning the segments under review.
With respect to the Committee's responsibility for developing and maintaining forms for use in the district courts, there was tentative agreement that at the outset attention should be focused on forms that would be of use to clerks of court and that could be included in the clerk manual.
Topics for Discussion
Chair Nelson drew Committee members' attention to Attachment B (June 3, 2002), which consists of two emails regarding questions for consideration by the Committee.
With respect to the first question, submitted by Kay Braget, concerning the amount to be charged for the civil/small claims judgment report, Paulette Reule said an earlier memorandum from the state court administrator indicated that a $10 fee should be assessed for reports provided to credit bureaus, title companies, and newspapers. Subsequently, she said, clerks were informed that reports that are generated on a daily basis would be provided at no cost. She said a $10 fee would be assessed for a special report generated in response to a particular request.
Paulette Reule asked whether the same fee would apply to the "newspaper" report, which most often is a report of information generated especially for newspapers, e.g., conviction or divorce information. Deb Simenson said her office generates the newspaper report daily and it is left at the counter for review. She said a fee is not assessed for the report. However, she said, a $10 fee is assessed for the conviction report, which is a substantial report. She said in some counties a $10 fee is also assessed for a money judgment report that is provided monthly to credit bureaus.
Paulette Reule wondered whether the practice of assessing a fee for providing report information should simply be discontinued.
Committee members noted there is a continuing disparity among clerks' offices regarding what fee is to be assessed for which particular reports generated by the clerks' offices. Judge Kleven said a statewide policy in this area may be helpful. It was noted that the state court administrator had previously distributed a memorandum to clerks of court outlining the fees to be assessed for providing certain reports.
It was moved by Paulette Reule that fees for judgment reports be eliminated. Following discussion, the motion died for lack of a second.
It was moved by Deb Simenson and seconded by Doug Johnson that the practice of assessing a $10 fee for special judgment reports be continued.
Paulette Reule explained that "during the normal course of business" on the first day of the month she generates list of all civil judgments and satisfactions and places them in a 3-ring binder next to the public terminal in the clerk's office. She said anyone who wants a copy of the report information can obtain a copy for 25 cents per page.
Doug Johnson said the confusion concerning the fee to be assessed may result from a difference about what is generated by the clerk's office during the "normal course of business." Judge Kleven agreed and said there may be a need to define what constitutes a report generated during the "normal course of business."
Following further discussion, the motion was withdrawn with the consent of the second.
Chair Nelson drew attention to the second email included in Attachment B (June 3, 2002), which concerns the manner in which applications for post-conviction relief should be filed.
Paulette Reule observed that the governing statute requires that the "State of North Dakota" must be reflected as the respondent in the action. Consequently, she said, if the clerk places the application in the criminal file, it really amounts to changing the caption, which the clerk is not authorized to do. She said the deputy clerk of the Supreme Court has indicated that when a post-conviction relief matter is appealed, both the civil file and the criminal file should be forwarded, with a certificate for each. In response to a question from Deb Simenson, Paulette Reule said if the state is not listed as the respondent on the application, then in her district the application is treated as a motion under Rule 3.2.
Committee members agreed the issue would be addressed when the criminal section of the clerks' manual is reviewed.
Ted Gladden then distributed an email from Judge Paulson concerning the possibility of developing a uniform request and order form for pre-sentence investigations. He also distributed a draft form developed by Judge Paulson. A copy of the email and form is attached as an Appendix.
Judge Kleven observed that the Department of Corrections (parole and probation) had devised a new form as mentioned by Judge Paulson and had also requested a procedure to inform the clerks regarding what information could be disclosed from the addendum to the pre-sentence investigation report. She said an order was developed in her district regarding what information from the addendum could be disclosed to the defendant and the prosecution. She suggested, and Committee members agreed, that if the suggested new form is to be used, it should include the sentencing date.
Following discussion, Committee members agreed the next meeting, preferably a morning meeting, should be held in conjunction with the next Judicial Conference. With respect to reviewing the clerks' manual, it was agreed that the Committee would begin its review with the General and Civil sections. Clerks of court will be notified that the manual review is underway and invited to submit any comments they may have regarding additions or changes to the manual.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:05 p.m.
Jim Ganje, Staff