Best Practices Committee
March 4, 2005
Members Present Judge Evan Sperline, Chair
Judge Scott Anders
Ms. Patricia Austin
Judge Suzanne Barnett
Judge Steve Brown
Judge Steve Buzzard
Judge Michael Cooper
Hon. Betty Gould (by phone)
Ms. Andra Motyka
Justice Susan Owens
Judge Julie Spector
Ms. Yolande Williams
Members Absent Ms. Linda Bell
Ms. Cece Clynch
Hon. Kim Eaton
Mr. Phil Jans (alt.)
Ms. Barb Miner (alt.)
Mr. David Ponzoha
Judge Karen Seinfeld (ret.)
Mr. Paul Sherfey (alt.)
Mr. Kevin Stock (alt.)
Mr. Warren Swanson
Staff Present Ms. Colleen Clark
Dr. Andy Glenn
Ms. Yvonne Pettus
Call to Order
Judge Sperline called the meeting to order. Committee members introduced themselves.
Judge Sperline had a change to the
RECAP OF DECEMBER 10 MEETING
Judge Sperline briefly recapped the accomplishments of the
· The Unified Family Court principles and policies were approved and forwarded to the BJA.
· It was agreed to continue the CourtMetrix project in a cost-free relationship for 18 months with the current pilot courts.
· A plan for determining the base measures for court performance audits was developed. (See minutes from December 10 meeting for further information.)
DISCUSSION OF PERFORMANCE AUDIT MEASURES
AOC staff, along with an ad-hoc committee, screened the 70+ measures that were provided at the December 10 meeting. The recommended base measures (compiled from the Trial Court Performance Standards [TCPS]) were provided to the committee.
In the BJA Performance Audit Policy, base measures are defined as follows.
2.5 Base Measures
The collective set of performance measures that are applied for every performance audit conducted. Different sets of measures may be applied to each jurisdictional level and will consist of a limited number of performance measures.
Ms. Pettus explained the criteria, agreed upon at the December 10 meeting, for evaluating the base measures.
Eliminate the standard/measure if:
1. The court or someone else already does this.
2. It is too costly to evaluate.
3. Similar measures are already in place.
Include the standard/measure if:
· Competency of judicial officers, integrity of trial court outcomes
· Equality, freedom from bias, anti-discrimination
· Security for public and court staff
6. Of broad importance to Washington Courts
7. Applicable to rural and urban courts
Measures 1.2.6 and 1.4.1 (Attorney and Court User Surveys)
Judges Sperline and Spector voiced concerns that, if staff knows there is an evaluation being done, they are apt to be on their best behavior. Members of the public visiting the courthouse may interact with the clerk’s office, security or the jail and may have a different experience depending on the day they visited the courthouse. The methodology for the survey would require that different days be selected to reach a more diverse cross-section of members of the public.
There was discussion that court users do not generally draw a distinction between the different offices within the court. From the clerk’s office to the courtroom staff to security when entering the building, the public may view these as one entity. Dr. Glenn added that when members of the public were asked to complete a survey in
The surveys are tailored to distinctive groups to more effectively evaluate the assessment. For example, the attorney questionnaire would ask different types of questions than a questionnaire for a member of the public or a juror. Ms. Pettus distributed an attorney questionnaire that was done in Benton/Franklin County. It was distilled from several questionnaires from the
It was decided to move measures 1.2.7 (Evaluation of Accessibility by observers) and 1.4.2 (Assessment of Courtesy by observers) from the "Recommended" list to the "Not Recommended" list.
It was discussed that it would be a good idea to have a subgroup go through the attorney questionnaire and work up draft questionnaires for the various user groups. Judge Spector volunteered to chair this subgroup. Judges Buzzard and Brown, and Ms. Motyka and Ms. Williams volunteered to assist Judge Spector. It was noted that the WSBA does a poll of their attorneys regarding the performance of judges. Judge Spector will contact them and ask for a copy of this questionnaire. This subgroup will draft a questionnaire that would cover the following measures: 1.2.6, 1.4.1, 1.4.3, 3.1.2, 3.3.1.
Measures 2.1.1 and 2.1.3 (Time to Resolution and Age of Pending Caseload)
It was suggested that the following superior court case types not be included in these measures: dependency, termination of parental rights, probate, and guardianship.
For courts of limited jurisdiction, these two measures are not currently available in JIS. Therefore, it was suggested to ask the DMCMA to assist AOC in defining these measures.
Another issue that was discussed dealt with reopened cases. For example, when a modification is filed in a dissolution case, it can be filed as a new case or within the existing case. This causes issues with the age of pending caseload and quantifying the work needed to process cases. A possible resolution for this issue may be to file all modifications under a new case number.
ACTION: Staff will take these comments and concerns and prepare a proposal of how these should be handled for the next meeting.
It was noted that the numbering on the Recommended Base Measures was out of sync with the measures of our Performance Audit Policy.
ACTION: Staff will change the numbering to match up with the Performance Audit Policy.
Measure 4, from the Building a Better Court: Measuring and Improving Court Performance and Judicial Workload in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases, is a timeliness measure for child dependency and abuse cases.
Staff will look at SCOMIS docket data to determine the feasibility of obtaining the necessary information. Staff will include this assessment in the general proposal to deal with Measures 2.1.1 and 2.1.3.
Measure 2.1.4 (Certainty of Trial Dates)
Until the Courts Automated Proceeding System (CAPS) is in place, it is necessary to rely on SCOMIS docket codes for this measure in superior courts. Reliance on the docket for data increases the complexity of obtaining the data and unreliability of the data. The committee discussed whether the measure should include all cases scheduled for trial or only those cases resolved by trial.
It was moved to include only those cases resolved by trial in the certainty of trial date measure. The motion was seconded and passed with one opposed.
Measure 2.2.1 (Prompt Payment of Moneys)
This measure relates to money that courts pay to a person (bail refunds, juror fees, restitution payments, disbursement orders, etc.). In addition to this measure addressing Accountability and Efficiency, it is also addresses the Respect criteria.
State audits look at how quickly an order for refund of bail is executed and the rate of restitution paid out. There have been very few complaints regarding timely payment of juror and witness fees. The committee discussed whether this is widespread enough to make it a base measure. The committee decided to move the measure to "Not Recommended" list.
Measure 3.2.2 (Random Jury Selection Procedures)
It was suggested that instead of having this measure as a base measure, AOC could gather all the algorithms used by courts throughout the state and suggest an algorithm for use statewide. This measure might be better addressed as a statewide audit measure or rule. The committee decided to move the measure to "Not Recommended" list.
Measure 3.2.3 (Representativeness of the Final Juror Pool)
This measure compares the juror race and ethnicity data as reported by the juror on a juror questionnaire with the U.S. Census data for the jurisdiction. This comparison provides an evaluation of the representativeness of the juror pool. The committee discussed adding jury yield and utilization to this measure. The yield and usage data provides information regarding how well the court is managing the juror resource. The data would have to be collected manually or from the court's jury system, if available. The JIS committee has been discussing making a statewide jury system available to courts that are interested, but no decision has been reached yet.
It was moved to include representativeness, yield, and utilization as a base measure. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
Measure 3.3.1 (Evaluations of Equality and Fairness by the Practicing Bar)
This measure will be included in the attorney questionnaire.
Measure 3.3.5 (Integrity of Trial Court Outcomes)
This measure addresses the outcomes of appeals. The committee discussed including: 1) reversals and affirmances of the Court of Appeals by the Supreme Court; 2) reversals and affirmances by the Court of Appeals of superior court rulings; and 3) reversals and affirmances by the superior court of limited jurisdiction court rulings. The measure should provide a percentage of appeals filed per the total case resolutions. The committee was also interested in determining if a case was reversed and remanded for sentencing or trial.
ACTION: AOC staff will prepare a proposal for collecting and analyzing this measure for discussion at the next meeting.
Measure 3.5.1 (Payment of Fines, Costs, and Restitution)
This measure would apply to the county clerks and courts of limited jurisdiction. The committee discussed whether this measure should be limited to restitution? JIS could provide the amounts ordered and collected for a given timeframe. The committee felt that the Accessibility, Fairness, and Integrity criteria do not really apply to this measure. They felt this measure was about Respect for the court's orders.
The committee ran out of time for discussion of this measure so this will be the first agenda item for our next meeting.
The next meeting will be Friday, May 6 at 9:00 a.m., in the AOC SeaTac office.
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