Best Practices Committee
March 29, 2002
Judge Vicki Hogan called the meeting to order at 9:35 a.m. Those present introduced themselves.
Judge McKeeman noted there was a correction to the January 18, 2002 minutes. Under Mandatory Settlement Conferences: a county employee (not an independent researcher) performed the Snohomish County study of the courts' caseload. Minutes were approved as amended.
Review of Work Plan for Enforcement of Monetary Sanctions
Ms. Pettus previously distributed information on the enforcement of monetary sanctions via email. It was noted that the Superior Court Judges' Association (SCJA) has a committee, chaired by Judge Stephen Warning that is discussing the same subject-Ms. Pettus is staffing this committee also.
After some discussion, the committee decided to focus their energy on the District and Municipal Courts. They would also hope to work side-by-side with the SCJA committee; it could be advantageous for both organizations. It was suggested that Teri Nielsen (Cowlitz County Clerk) might be the liaison between the two committees since she is working with Judge Warning on the superior court committee.
Justice Ireland suggested that it is important that people come to court with the expectation that they will have to pay-being notified in advance that they should bring a checkbook, credit card, cash, etc. A payment area should be inside the courtroom or be set up right outside the courtroom. If there is a problem with payment, a payment schedule could be set up immediately. It might also be a requirement that the person take their receipt back to the judge.
Ms. McBride reminded the committee that Ms. Siri Woods put together a collections program in Chelan County, while working on her ICM accreditation, which collected approximately one half million dollars for the court in a year. It might be beneficial to ask her to attend a meeting to explain it.
There was some discussion about the Department of Corrections (DOC) not always applying the money they receive to restitution or legal financial obligations - it is frequently applied to their supervisory fees.
It was noted that the statute says that Superior court restitution should be paid first, and then any other money is divided up among fines, fees, and costs. Usually the courts try to apply payments to the offender's oldest case first.
Mr. Graham asked about amnesty programs. Some counties have done them and seem to have benefited. He also suggested inviting Senator Kline or Representative Lantz to a future meeting; they have both been active with this issue. The committee thought this might be a good idea, but not until after all the data is collected and the material is being worked on by the committee.
Measures of Success
Success for collections programs might be measured by:
Ms. Pettus will ask other states with collection programs for information, which she will provide to the committee. She will also gather information from Washington's district and municipal courts; and check with Ms. Woods' on her program.
Clark County seems to be doing well with collections, they will be asked for information. It was also noted that Judge Fritzler would be a good source of information.
Ms. Pettus will also draft a survey for the district and municipal courts to gather information on their collections programs. This will be circulated to the committee for input before it is finalized. It is hoped these surveys will be completed and returned to AOC by mid-June.
National material on this subject will be summarized and distributed to the committee.
Judge Warning and Teri Nielsen will be added to the listserv.
The meeting adjourned at 11:00 a.m. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Friday, July 12, 2002 at 9:30 a.m. It will again be held in Tacoma at the Court of Appeals.
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