Best Practices Committee
July 30, 2009
Board for Judicial Administration
Welcome and Call to Order
Judge Spector called the meeting to order. Introductions of participants were made, and new members Ms. Pat Austin, Judge Steven Buzzard, Ms. Marti Maxwell and Judge Jean Rietschel were welcomed.
Judge Spector provided a brief overview of the Committee’s mission and activities. The mission of the BJA Best Practices Committee (BPC) has evolved from its original charge of evaluating and promoting court best practices. BPC, under the direction of the BJA, is now charged with creating a court performance audit plan. BPC’s primary activity is concentrated on developing, testing, and evaluating court performance audit measures. The BJA approved a series of measures for the BPC to pursue and defined a testing and evaluation process based on the Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS). Each measure is designed to allow the auditor (AOC staff) to objectively review courts’ activities related to the standards defined in that measure. The standards must be reasonable for courts at all levels to achieve whether they are large, small, urban, or rural.
Judge Spector requested that staff send out information on the performance audit plan process, status of the various measures, and timeline (in progress).
Approval of Minutes
Judge Spector asked if there were any changes to the December 17 and 18 meeting minutes. There were none.
A motion was made by Ms. Pettus to approve the minutes, Judge Lucas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Measure 4: Effective Use of Jurors
Judge Spector moved on to the BPC’s work at hand which is the development of a measure to evaluate courts’ jury management effectiveness. The first task is to define three or four standards on which the measure should be based. Participants noted that standards should ideally be based on existing recognized standards defined in statute, court rule, the Washington State Jury Standards, or the Washington State Jury Commission recommendations.
Jury Term: After some discussion, participants agreed that the first standard should ensure that the courts are requiring a jury term and length of service within the guidelines defined by statute (RCWs 2.36.010, 2.36.080).
Random Selection: Participants also decided to include a standard that evaluated the randomness of the courts’ jury selection process. The discussion centered around how randomness would be determined and evaluated (for example, would the algorithm that randomly selects jurors to be summoned be evaluated, would the list of jurors summoned be checked, or should jury selection process documentation be provided to the auditor?). It was noted that groundwork has been laid by G. Thomas Munsterman’s authoritative work: Jury System Management. Munsterman asserts that the result of the selection process is the best indicator of whether or not randomness has been achieved.
Juror Yield: The participants also discussed the possibility of creating a juror yield standard. Discussion revolved around the challenges of evaluating a court’s performance in this area. Issues were raised such as:
Juror Usage was suggested as a possibly more useful measure than juror yield. Usage measures the number voir dired, and the number actually impaneled, as a proportion of the overall group of jurors who report for service.
The Committee will meet at the AOC SeaTac facility to continue discussing and defining the standards to be used in the Jury Effectiveness measure. The meeting is tentatively arranged for October 1.
The meeting adjourned.
“Jury term” means a period of time of one or more days, not exceeding one month, during which summoned jurors must be available to report for juror service. “Jury service” means the period of time a juror is required to be present at the court facility. This period of time may not extend beyond the end of the jury term, and may not exceed two weeks, except to complete a trial to which the juror was assigned during the two-week period.
RCW 2.36.065 requires the judges of the superior court to ensure continued random selection of the master list and jury panels, and that they review the process from time to time and shall cause to be kept on file with the county clerk a description of the jury selection process.
RCW 2.36.050 requires that juries in courts of limited jurisdiction shall be selected and impaneled in the same manner as in the superior courts, except that the courts of limited jurisdiction shall use the master jury list developed by the superior court to select a jury panel.
NCSC notes 40% as a commonly used yield goal. See NCSC CourTools Measure 8: Effective Use of Jurors at: http://www.ncsconline.org/d_research/CourTools/Images/courtools_measure8.pdf
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