Best Practices Committee
March 30, 2001
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Judge Vicki Hogan, chair. Committee members introduced themselves.
The minutes from the January 29, 2001 meeting were approved with no changes.
Judge Hogan recapped from Judge Donohue's summation regarding the Committee's direction. Did BJA have a specific direction for this committee? Probably not, it's up to its members to define it. Philosophically we are here to assist the courts in defining best practices, taking things a step further from the Justice, Efficiency and Accountability (JEA) Best Practices Committee recommendations.
Discussion ensued about revisiting the previous committees' works and building on work already started.
Judge Fritzler stated that because the sizes of courts are so diverse throughout the state, it might be difficult to decide on a topic that would affect all of the courts to a similar degree. He also suggested partnering with universities or other organizations on projects as appropriate; that the committee not develop best practices, but find and support current best practices.
It was also felt that the committee should take a leadership role, sending a message to the courts that they will be moving forward with projects.
Judge Donohue said he felt the committee should be a clearinghouse for new ideas; and that we could be proactive or reactive. It's a process of examining what is working best, i.e., are there measurables. There should be a constant drive for bettering the judicial system. He continued that he doesn't see this committee serving only as a "think tank."
Judge Buzzard said he believed that AOC is inherently a clearinghouse, as almost all judicial committees have AOC staff on them.
Judge McKeeman reminded the committee that it isn't a source for funding new projects or ideas. Discussion on this subject suggested that projects passing through and being refined by the committee might be used as a pre-requisite for funding in a particular area (i.e., mental health, drug and family courts) when grants are applied for.
Judge Fitch suggested looking at specialized courts (drug, unified family courts, etc.) and see how they would work in other jurisdictions. Judge Fritzler agreed, saying that local systems can fragment; how can the specialized courts all work together. Would these be betterments for local systems?
Judge Hogan suggested the committee develop a Business Plan. She also said that initially she had envisioned the committee larger than it currently is. However she is not inclined to add more people yet. She continued that she feels calling in experts for tasks and projects will fulfill that role, at least for now.
There was a consensus that it would be the best use of the committee's time to focus on no more than two or three projects per year. Many ideas were discussed; the following is a list of the suggested areas from committee members (not listed in a particular order). It is important to keep in mind that projects should cross all levels of courts.
After further discussing these project ideas, the committee decided to begin with "Methods to Resolve Cases Prior To Trial" as this would pertain to all courts, regardless of size or level. It was also decided that this list needs to be fluid-changing as ideas and/or suggestions come and go.
Ms. Pettus was asked if AOC would develop a solicitation form to be sent out to courts asking for their input on this subject. It could also be discussed at Association business meetings and put on OAC's website. She replied that it would be taken care of.
Mr. Graham said it's important to also solicit input from the Bar. He would like to put information on the WSBA website.
Ms. Pettus stated that it is her understanding that the BJA wants AOC to be available to conduct performance audits on courts. This committee would set the standards for conducting those audits. It was a consensus of the committee that this would not be something that would be taken on in the beginning. It's felt that "Methods to Resolve Cases Prior To Trial" as the first project is something that can be carried to completion.
Best Practices Areas
Ms. Pettus summarized information from the National Center for State Courts regarding the Best Practices Institute it has established.
Committee Mission Statement
The Committee agreed the following revised Mission statement should be submitted to the BJA:
"The Board for Judicial Administration Best Practice's Committee shall actively and extensively participate in the selection, endorsement, dissemination, and implementation of best practices in court operations and administration and commit to a process of continuously assessing and updating the practices."
The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, June 8, 2001. It will be at Two Union Square in Seattle, Room 1606 at 9:30 a.m.
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