- Problem Definition Work Group
Charge: Confirm the core mission of the trial courts in Washington. Describe in what manner long-term, inadequate funding of the trial courts adversely impacts the core mission of the trial courts. What constraints are placed on the trial court system as a result of inadequate funding? What are the consequences to citizens of the State of Washington and to the users of the trial courts that result from such long-term inadequate funding?
Quantify the extent to which annual funding of the trial courts is inadequate. How much additional annual funding (from whatever source) is needed for the trial courts to have sufficient funding to perform their core mission?
The charge of the committee is to address these questions and to recommend to the Task Force how much money the trial court system needs annually to carry out its core mission in accordance with approved performance standards to ensure “justice for all.”
- Courts of Limited Jurisdiction – Delivery of Services
Charge: Study court-funding issues in courts of limited jurisdiction (district and municipal courts) that result from multiple delivery systems in the same geographical area and recommend whether structural changes (such as consolidation of district and municipal courts) should be made to the current system. Are contracts between and among cities or between and among cities and counties an efficient and effective method of delivering judicial services?
- Funding Alternatives Work Group
Charge: Study the current funding responsibilities for the court system. Study the distribution of court revenue between state and local government. Examine whether the current system for funding courts and distributing court revenue between state and local governments should be restructured and, if so, recommend in what ways this should occur. If the work group recommends restructuring the funding and revenue flow for courts, propose a budgeting and appropriation mechanism to operationalize a greater shared responsibility between state and local governments for funding of the trial courts. Review mechanisms in place in other states for applicability in Washington.
Based upon the findings and recommendations of the Problem Definition Work Group as ultimately approved by the Task Force, what sources of revenue should be used to fund the trial courts? To the extent that the existing resources are inadequate, recommend to the Task Force new sources of revenue, whether state or local, that can be used to fund the gap between current resources and needed resources.
- Public Education Work Group
Charge: Create a plan with strategies for informing the public, legislators, other elected officials and decision-makers including members of the judiciary, and other stakeholders about the adequacy of trial court funding today and the long-term consequences to the citizens of the State of Washington that result from such inadequate funding. As the other work groups develop findings and recommendations, as ultimately approved by the Task Force and the Board for Judicial Administration, about the extent to which our trial courts are under funded and the consequences of long-term under funding, undertake an extensive effort in accordance with the plan to educate those identified above in order to secure full financial support for the trial courts.
- Implementation Strategies Work Group
Charge: Working with other work groups, determine the available alternatives and develop the necessary strategies for changing the funding responsibility for the trial courts (constitutional amendment, referendum, initiative, statutory changes, rule changes, etc.) and the legal and practical implications of each. Devise a suggested timeframe and approach to the most viable alternatives. Undertake the necessary effort, as authorized by the Board for Judicial Administration, to implement fully the recommendations of the Task Force as it relates to changing the funding responsibility for the trial courts.