Supreme Court Code of Judicial Conduct Task Force
October 10, 2008
Washington State Supreme Court
Code of Judicial Conduct (CJC) Task Force
AOC Conference Room
SeaTac Office Center
Friday, October 10, 2008 Meeting Minutes
Judge Alan R. Hancock (co-chair), Judge Joel M. Penoyar (co-chair), Mr. C. Matthew Andersen, Ms. Marcine Anderson, Judge Mary Kay Becker, Ms. Margery L. Dickinson, Judge David S. Edwards, Ms. Elizabeth Fraser Cullen, Justice Charles W. Johnson, Judge John A. McCarthy, Judge Robert B. McSeveney, Justice Richard B. Sanders, Ms. Ruth Schroeder,
Mr. John W. Sleeter, and Judge Kenneth D. Williams
Judge John Schultheis
Ms. Nan Sullins and Ms. Caroline Tawes
Call to Order and Introductions
Judge Hancock, CJC Task Force co-chair, called the meeting to order at 9:45 a.m. He welcomed everyone, and asked members and Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) staff to introduce themselves and make a brief statement about their interest in participating on the Task Force.
Review of Charge
Judge Penoyar reviewed the charge of the Task Force, which is to review the Washington State Code of Judicial Conduct and make recommendations regarding changes to the Washington State Supreme Court. The Task Force may make recommendations to adopt changes to or leave the Washington State Code as it is. The goal is to finish the first round of recommendations by the end of February 2009.
Judge Hancock told members that the AOC SeaTac office may be available for work group meetings, and asked them to consider making use of e-mail and telephone conferences for work group meetings between meetings of the entire Task Force. Task Force meetings have been scheduled at SeaTac on Wednesday, November 12; Friday, December 19; Wednesday, January 14; and Friday, February 20. All meetings are tentatively scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except for the February meeting, which is tentatively scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to noon. Judge Penoyar encouraged all members to participate in discussions equally, as all input is important.
After a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct and the Washington State Code of Judicial Conduct, Task Force members decided to use the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct as a base for formatting their recommendations.
Judge Penoyar asked the work groups to meet in a breakout session and divide their assignment into thirds. Each work group will report at each of the next three Task Force meetings. At the February meeting, the Task Force will create a draft report for discussion at the spring conferences of the Superior Court Judges’ Association (SCJA) and the District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association (DMCJA), and the Appellate Judges’ Spring Program. The comments from the spring meetings will be considered by the Task Force, and a second draft will be presented at the 2009 Fall Judicial Conference. The final recommendations will be submitted to the Supreme Court in late 2009. The final version of the Washington State Code of Judicial Conduct should be finished early in 2010.
Judge Edwards said that Judge Schultheis is having surgery in November and may have limited availability. Justice Sanders suggested inviting Mr. Tom Fitzpatrick to participate in the work group, to compensate for the possibility of Judge Schultheis having limited input. Ms. Cullen offered to speak to Mr. Fitzpatrick about this opportunity.
Ms. Dickinson requested that she be able to participate in work group D, which will focus partially on campaign financing, a topic that the League of Women Voters is particularly interested in. Judge Penoyar told Ms. Dickinson she could participate in that work group.
Mr. Andersen said it would be helpful for him to hear from the judges in the meeting regarding what canons they thought created the most problems or discussion. The responses included:
Ms. Anderson said she would like to know which rules create the most complaints and which ones are the most confusing. Ms. Sullins said information about which the rules create the most complaints can be found in the annual report on the Commission on Judicial Conduct Web site. Ms. Sullins will e-mail the link to the members.
The workgroups met individually to discuss their work plans. After reconvening with the entire group, Work Group A said they would communicate by e-mail. They may have overlapping issues with Work Group B, and Judge Penoyar said the group could bring in others as needed.
In Work Group B, Mr. Andersen will look at rules one through eight, and Judge McSeveney will look at rules nine through 16. They will talk again at the end of next week.
Work Group C will start with rules 3.1 through 3.5, and will meet again on November 3 in Seattle. Ms. Anderson cannot meet with the larger group on November 12. The group also plans to meet via conference call on October 24.
Judge Edwards will contact Judge Schultheis to determine Judges Schultheis’ level of participation in Work Group D. Ms. Cullen will contact Mr. Fitzpatrick to invite him to participate.
Ms. Dickinson said she wanted to try to work with both Work Group B and Work Group D.
Judge Williams requested an electronic copy of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct. Ms. Sullins said she would e-mail a copy to the members.
Judge Penoyar adjourned the meeting at 12:00 p.m.
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