Section 1. Authority and Purpose.
In accordance with Article VI, Section 3, of the North Dakota Constitution, the Supreme Court adopts this rule relating to election and duties of presiding judges.
Section 2. The office of presiding judge is created in each judicial district as the chief administrative officer of all courts in the judicial district. The presiding judge is responsible for all court services of all courts within the geographical area of the judicial district.
Section 3. Each presiding judge is elected by the district judges in each judicial district in accordance with sections 4 and 5. Vacancies in the office of presiding judge are filled for the remainder of the term by vote as prescribed in this rule. Election results must be sent to the judges of the district by e-mail and posted on the Supreme Court website. Under Administrative Rule 22, each presiding judge is a member of the Administrative Council.
Section 4. An election will be held after January 10, 1995, for the three-year term of office beginning February 1, 1995, and after January 10 in each third year thereafter. Ballots will be sent by the State Court Administrator to every district judge of each judicial district. Individuals desiring to have their names deleted from the ballot must notify the State Court Administrator in writing before January 6 of the year the vote is to be taken. Upon receipt, each district judge will mark one choice for presiding judge and return it to the State Court Administrator by January 20.Upon receipt of the ballots, the State Court Administrator will, through consultation with the presiding judge of the district, set a place, date, and time of opening and notify all district judges within the district of the place, date, and time of opening. The presiding judge, and any other interested person, may be present at the ballot count. Results will be announced by the presiding judge no later than January 30 and later published in accordance with section 3. The candidate with the most votes will be declared the winner. If the leaders are tied, a reballoting will take place with only the tied leaders remaining in contention. If the tie cannot be broken by voting, the winner will be decided by drawing the longest straw.
Section 5. The following instructions will be provided with each ballot:
"Along with these instructions you should have one ballot with the names of all district judges in your judicial district who have not indicated their desire to have their names deleted from the ballot, one envelope marked 'Presiding Judge Ballot—Inner Envelope' and one pre-addressed outer envelope. Mark with an 'x' in front of your one choice for presiding judge, seal your ballot in the inner envelope provided and place this in the outer pre-addressed envelope provided. Election information can be found in North Dakota Supreme Court Administrative Rule 2."
Section 6. The presiding judge shall designate a judge of the district as acting presiding judge when the presiding judge will not be within the judicial district, or when the office of presiding judge will be vacant for 40 days or less. The presiding judge shall notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court of the designation.
Section 7. The presiding judge shall convene regular meetings of the judges of the judicial district to discuss matters of common concern, and to recommend improvement of court services within the judicial district.
Section 8. The presiding judge shall assign cases among the judges of the judicial district.
Section 9. Whenever a judge of the judicial district determines, for any reason, that it is inappropriate to preside in an assigned case, the judge shall refer the case to the presiding judge for reassignment.
If a presiding judge determines it is inappropriate for the presiding judge to preside in an assigned case, the presiding judge shall refer the case to the Clerk of the Supreme Court for reassignment by the Chief Justice, unless the judicial district has established pursuant to the North Dakota Rule on Local Court Procedural Rules an appropriate alternative case assignment procedure approved by the Supreme Court.
If the presiding judge is unable to make an appropriate assignment from among the judges within the judicial district, the presiding judge shall refer the case to the Clerk of the Supreme Court for reassignment by the Chief Justice.
Section 10. The presiding judge shall assign, when appropriate, judges from within the judicial district in cases of demand for change of judge under Section 29-15-21, NDCC.
If the presiding judge is the judge against whom the demand for change of judge is filed, the demand must be forwarded to the Clerk of the Supreme Court directly for review and assignment, when appropriate, by the Chief Justice, unless the judicial district has established under the North Dakota Rule on Local Court Procedural Rules an appropriate alternative case assignment procedure approved by the Supreme Court.
If the presiding judge is unable to make an appropriate assignment from among all the judges within the judicial district, the presiding judge shall refer the demand to the Clerk of the Supreme Court for review and assignment, when appropriate, by the Chief Justice.
If a party, other than the party making the demand, objects to any assignment of a judge by the presiding judge to act in the place of a disqualified judge, written notice of the objection must be sent to the presiding judge and the clerk of the trial court for review and filing.
Section 11. During each biennium, at the appropriate time designated by the State Court Administrator, the presiding judge shall review and forward to the State Court Administrator the budget request for all state funded court services within the judicial district. The presiding judge shall supervise the administration of the budget approved by the Legislative Assembly within the judicial district subject to limitations provided by the Administrative Council, the State Court Administrator, and the Chief Justice. The presiding judge shall provide administrative staff assistance, when appropriate, in preparing budgets for other court services in the judicial district.
Section 12. The presiding judge shall supervise the implementation of all local administrative practice and procedure regulations by all judges, clerks of court and other officers or employees of the courts in the judicial district.
Section 13. The presiding judge shall hire and supervise all law clerks, judicial referees, court reporters, and secretaries to judges. The presiding judge may delegate such authority to the trial court administrator or to the judge to whom the person is assigned.
Section 14. In accordance with Section 27-05-18, NDCC, the presiding judge may grant permission to any judge of the district court within the judicial district to hold consecutive jury terms of court in any county in the judicial district upon good cause shown. Permission must be granted by court order with a copy filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court.
Section 15. Effective Date.
The effective date of this rule is August 1, 2004.
Dated at Bismarck, North Dakota, this 8th day of March, 2004.
Gerald W. VandeWalle, Chief Justice
William A. Neumann, Justice
Mary Muehlen Maring, Justice
Carol Ronning Kapsner, Justice
I dissent. The "judicial reorganization plan" reflected in these rule changes received extensive public comment. Almost all of those who commented, including the Board of Governors of the State Bar Association and most of the district judges, objected to the plan. Although some of the objections may have been met by changes to the plan, it appears most have not.
I would make implementation of the rule changes subject to approval of the North Dakota Judicial Conference.
Dale V. Sandstrom, Justice
Clerk of the Supreme Court
SOURCE: N.D. Const., Art. VI, Sec. 3, approved Sept. 7, 1976; Sec. 27-02-05.1 and 27-05-05, NDCC; AR 2-1978 (7-6-78); AR 2-1978 as amended Sept. 26, 1979; AR 2-1981 as amended June 25, 1981, effective July 1, 1981; AR 2-1985 as amended March 14, 1985, effective July 1, 1985; AR 2 amended January 18, 1990, effective March 1, 1990; AR 2 emergency amendments adopted effective October 15, 1991, amended and readopted January 22, 1992, effective March 1, 1992; amended effective October 1, 1994; amended effective August 1, 2004, Administrative Reorganization of the Judicial System, Supreme Court No. 20030098; amended effective February 1, 2018.