Best Practices Committee
October 25, 2002D R A F T
Board for Judicial Administration
Best Practices Committee October 25, 2002
Call to Order
Judge Evan Sperline called the meeting to order at 9:40 a.m. Those present introduced themselves. Judge Sperline welcomed new members Cece Clynch, representing the Washington State Bar Association, and Linda Bell, from Pierce County District Court, representing the District and Municipal Court Management Association.
Research Plan for Enforcement of Monetary Sanctions
Ms. Pettus began by reviewing the committee’s earlier decision to work on this subject, focusing on courts of limited jurisdiction (CLJ). The goal is to determine effective (best) practices in the enforcement of monetary sanction imposed by courts.
The work plan had been laid out as follows:
The first item has been completed. Ms. Pettus provided summaries of local court collection programs and statewide collection programs, along with the statutes related to collection of monetary penalties and the Project 2001 Recommendations for Enforcement and Payment of Judgments.
A committee chaired by Judge Warning, Cowlitz County Superior Court, is currently working on the second item.
The third item has been accomplished by the “Enforcement of Monetary Sanctions, Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Survey” conducted by Ms. Pettus in May of this year (results of the survey were handed out to the committee).
The fourth item remains to be addressed.
Judge Buzzard noted that the WSBA Court Rules committee has appointed a subcommittee, of which he and Judge Rietschel are members of, to look at time payments.
A summary of AOC studies on collection rates was included in the packet of materials given to the committee. A common thread through the three surveys that have been done (1988, 1999, and 2002) is that the collection rate is high for collections done within 60 days of case resolution.
Municipal and district courts collect fines for traffic infractions, misdemeanors, and some restitution, but it can differ from court to court. Problems arise when there are multiple fines in different counties. Interest is only added after cases are referred to a collection agency.
Individuals usually aren’t jailed for non-payment of fines. There is also a statute authorizing credit for time served. Truly indigent individuals may be able to work off their fine on a work crew, which is usually at minimum wage. It was also noted that some superior courts are using credit cards; and CLJs are also statutorily permitted to accept credit cards.
The current policies and statutes may be at odds concerning fines, assessments, and collections. An interesting aside is that within the Superior Courts of Washington, more than $900 million dollars in fines is owed, it is unknown how much of that is interest.
Judge Sperline commented that the committee should not be discouraged from moving forward by possible legislative barriers.
Questions to be addressed:
A question was raised about what percentage AOC receives from the Drivers License Restoration Program. Ms. Pettus replied, the state portion of the money goes into the PSEA account and AOC receives an appropriation from the Legislature from that account.
Judge Sperline said he sees three areas the committee could concentrate on:
It was moved and seconded that the Administrative Office of the Courts survey a sampling of the Courts of Limited Jurisdiction and their outcomes using various practices; coordinating with the WSBA committee.
The motion was amended to include the Superior Courts in this survey. The amended motion passed.
Ms. Pettus and Dr. Glenn will work on this survey and provide the committee with a compilation of statutes on assessment, collection, disbursement, etc.
Discussion of Committee Membership/Terms
Currently there are no terms set for committee members. To maintain some history and longevity on the committee, it was agreed that Ms. Linda Bell, Ms. Cece Clynch and Judge Karen Seinfeld will each serve two-year terms. Other members will be given one or two year terms, depending on their past length of time with the committee. One Superior Court position is currently vacant; Ms. Pettus will ask the SCJA staff contact to see about filling it.
There was a question about the Supreme Court Justice membership on the committee, and it was decided that this was a valuable position and should remain as part of the membership.
The committee agreed that the current mission statement for Best Practices might not be accurate; following is the current mission statement and the proposed new mission statement. At the next BJA meeting, Judge Sperline would ask that the new mission statement for this committee be approved.
The current mission statement reads:
To define the core mission of the courts and recommend ways for courts to improve the administration of justice for the citizens of Washington.
The proposed new mission statement is:
The Board for Judicial Administration's Best practices 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.
Judge Sperline will also clarify with the BJA whether the WSBA representative on the committee is voting or non-voting.
A proposed agenda item for the next meeting will be looking at other general projects. Ms. Pettus will add the "Potential Project Areas handout" to the materials.
The question of a “perpetual” meeting by listserv was brought up; Ms. Pettus will look into this suggestion.
The meeting adjourned at 11:25 a.m. The next meeting has not yet been scheduled, but will probably be around the end of January 2003. It will again be held in Tacoma at the Court of Appeals.
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