Best Practices Committee
October 1, 2009
Board for Judicial Administration
October 1, 2009
Welcome and Call to Order
Judge Spector called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. She spoke briefly about budget constraints. Due to the cost of having in-person meetings, this will be the last one until after the 2010 legislative session in late Spring. The committee will continue to meet via conference calls. Judge Spector stressed to the committee that we should strive to make these conference calls productive. Those present and on the phone introduced themselves.
Approval of Minutes
Judge Spector asked if there were any changes to the July 30, 2009 minutes; there were none.
Judge Buzzard moved to approve the minutes, Judge Lucas seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Measure 4: Effective Use of Jurors.
Juror yield and utilization:
The Committee discussed summons response rates. It was generally agreed by those present that the average response rate is approximately 65%. Of those potential jurors responding, approximately 35% will become part of the jury pool (an overall yield of 22%). The Committee also discussed the problems with non-deliverable summons because of bad addresses, problems with a lack of a mailing address as opposed to a physical address, and the cost of cleaning lists to improve address accuracy. Judge Spector reminded the committee that our function is to find a way to define standards that will allow us to evaluate jury management practices within the current system.
The committee decided it would be helpful to gather information on non-deliverable rates during the audit in order to provide useful input for future list development procedures. (This information could be gathered using the Jury Management Information Sheet audit tool. See attached draft.)
Excusals and Postponements:
The Committee decided to add a third standard (Standard C) to the jury measure related to written procedures within a court for postponing and excusing jurors.
The Committee discussed GR28 which allows a judge to delegate in writing the authority to postpone, excuse, or disqualify, and provides general guidelines. The Committee discussed the importance of a written policy to ensure that jurors are being postponed in a uniform and consistent manner. The auditor would not be evaluating the content of the policy. This standard would also check the court’s policy related to automatic exemptions.
The question was asked if it is a goal of the Committee to have standardized policies in each court. Judge Spector replied that we are not a policy setting body, but that during an audit, the auditor would simply be checking that the court’s policies are in writing so that local practices can be uniformly applied. The Committee was also reminded that per BJA court rule, each measure must be published for two years before a court can be officially audited. During that time, standard policies might be developed by experts in the various subject-matter areas that courts could adopt locally.
Ms. Booth volunteered to check with her county, Cowlitz, about testing, and Judge Rietschel will look into Seattle Municipal Court participating in testing.
Judge Spector summed up the meeting by saying we have now decided on three standards: jury term/service; random selection; and excusals/deferrals. Staff will update the measure draft and send it out to the committee for review together with the Jury Commission recommendation re excusals and the related Washington Jury Standard (see attached).
The next meeting will be a one-hour conference call on Monday, November 16 at noon.
The meeting adjourned at noon.
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