Rule 1. Authority and Policy.
(a) Pursuant to the authority of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice in Sections 2 and 3 of Article VI of the North Dakota Constitution, it is the policy of the North Dakota Judicial System to provide information and assistance to judges and lawyers to enhance the efficiency of trial court services by establishing a continuing mechanism to maintain currency of pattern jury instructions in North Dakota.
(b) The goal of the North Dakota Judicial System is the development of pattern jury instructions to improve:
1. accuracy in the statement of the law;
2. juror comprehension of instructions;
3. impartiality of the instructions;
4. uniformity in the treatment of similar cases;
5. time savings in the trial court; and
6. reduction in appellate court workload.
(c) The Supreme Court recognizes that the assurance of the availability of current pattern jury instructions is the ultimate responsibility of the North Dakota Judicial System. This Rule is established to meet the administrative goal of improving court services in this area without jeopardizing the independent authority of the Supreme Court to review on appeal individual uses of pattern jury instructions.
Rule 2. North Dakota Pattern Jury Instruction Commission.
(a) There is established, within the North Dakota Judicial System, the North Dakota Pattern Jury Instruction Commission consisting of twelve members. The Commission shall be composed of six judges and six lawyers. The Board of Governors of the State Bar Association of North Dakota shall appoint the six lawyer members to the Commission. The Chairman of the Judicial Conference, after consultation with the Executive Committee, shall appoint the six judge members to the Commission. The Commission shall annually elect a chairperson from among its members.
(b) Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation for their services, but members who are not state employees are entitled to reimbursement for their actual expenses incurred in the performance of their duties from available funds. Members who are state employees shall be reimbursed through the agency of employment.
(c) Of the members initially appointed, as determined by lot, two of the appointees of the State Bar Association and two of the appointees of the Judicial Conference shall be appointed for one year. Two of the appointees of the State Bar Association and two of the appointees of the Judicial Conference shall be appointed for two years. The remaining members shall be appointed for three years. Thereafter, each appointment shall be for a three-year term.
(d) No member shall serve more than three successive three-year terms. Each member shall serve until the member's successor is appointed.
(e) Staff services shall be provided for the Commission by contracting with any appropriate agency. The contract for staff services shall be negotiated by the Commission in consultation with the State Court Administrator.
(f) All reasonable and necessary expenses of the Commission, including the travel, food and lodging expenses for members and the cost of providing staff services, shall be paid by the State Court Administrator within available legislative appropriations.
Rule 3. Duties of the Commission. The Commission shall:
(a) Review and study the statutory provisions and caselaw affecting jury instructions in civil and criminal cases in North Dakota;
(b) Draft and publish a current set of pattern jury instructions to be used in civil and criminal jury cases in North Dakota;
(c) Provide rules and procedures for review and comment by attorneys, judges, and the general lay public on the pattern jury instructions prepared by the Commission;
(d) Provide rules and procedures for the direct distribution of the pattern jury instructions adopted by the Commission to the judges and attorneys of the North Dakota Judicial System;
(e) Prepare a recommended biennial budget for the Commission for submission to the State Court Administrator for submission to the Legislative Assembly within the judicial branch budget;
(f) Prepare and submit to the Chairman of the Judicial Conference and the President of the State Bar Association of North Dakota an annual report on or before March 1 of each year; and
(g) Adopt rules and procedures for the operation of the Commission which are not inconsistent with these Rules.
Rule 4. Limitation.
All published pattern jury instructions shall show that they are published only for the benefit of the bench and bar and that publication does not imply either approval or authoritative construction by the Supreme Court.
Rule 5. Citation.
The North Dakota Pattern Jury Instruction Commission Rules may be cited NDPJICR.
Rule 6. Effective Date.
These Rules shall take effect on March 1, 1990; amended effective September 13, 1995.
Dated this 13th day of September, 1995.
Gerald W. VandeWalle, Chief Justice
Herbert L. Meschke, Justice
Beryl J. Levine, Justice
William A. Neumann, Justice
Dale V. Sandstrom, Justice
Penny Miller, Clerk
North Dakota Supreme Court
SOURCE: Judiciary Standards Committee Meeting Minutes of March 1, 1985, pages 2-5;North Dakota Constitution, Article VI, Sections 2 and 3; and AR 23 as adopted September 17, 1985, effective July 1, 1987; amended January 18, 1990, effective March 1, 1990; Supreme Court Conference Minutes of September 13, 1995; amendments effective September 13, 1995.