Trial Court Coordination Councils
2006 Trial Court Coordination Project News
King County District Court officials had a situation. Not a problem so much as an observation and a question.
While on loan to King County Superior/Juvenile Court, Judge Corinna Harn had noticed distinct differences in how juveniles were handled and sentenced at the district court versus the juvenile court.
Harn invited Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Patricia Clark to King County’s Trial Court Coordination Council (TCCC) meeting to talk about it. Clark reported instances in which juveniles had been sentenced in district court to detention for extended time for driving offenses, typically more than juveniles sentenced for Class B or C felony offenses.
The question and discussion began — how should the district court handle juveniles charged with driving offenses?
About that time, a new grant cycle for TCCC projects was announced, and King County TCCC applied for funding to organize a summit to explore how juvenile matters are or should be handled in district and municipal courts.
“These courts, and those who practice in them, may have limited exposure to recent studies on juvenile justice and often have difficulty handling repeat offenders,” says the flyer announcing the summit.
The summit is scheduled for March 9 at the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, and offers continuing education credits for judges and attorneys.
The Board for Judicial Administration (BJA) awarded five grants in 2006 for TCCC projects that can have impacts large and small on the justice systems in their counties:
The trial courts in 10 Washington counties have Trial Court Coordination Councils, which were recommended by the BJA’s Project 2001 committee as a way to maximize resources and improve services among courts in the same county or district.
Grant projects in the past have included a courthouse remodeling to improve safety, improved handling and coordination of domestic violence protection orders, revamped customer services to reduce confusion among court clients, and more.
“Counties are learning to be creative when it comes to coordinating efforts to solve problems that touch all the trial courts,” said Kitsap County District Court Judge Stephen Holman, who chaired the BJA’s TCC Committee and chaired his own county’s TCCC until December.
Holman said he was happy to be involved in Kitsap’s Council and all that it had achieved in coordinating domestic violence protection orders, and its current study of regionalizing services in limited jurisdiction courts.
The next BJA grant cycle for TCCC projects has not yet been established, but will be announced through various court and judicial information channels.
“I am hopeful that we can continue to innovate for the overall improvement of trial courts, and ultimately for the people in our communities,” Holman said.
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