Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
2010 State of the Judiciary AddressJanuary 22, 2010
OLYMPIA, WA -- Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen today issued a written report on the State of the Judiciary to members of the Washington State Legislature, elected officials and the public on behalf of the more than 400 judges of Washington State.
In the tradition of issuing a written address during even-numbered years of Washington State Legislature, the nine-page letter highlights pressing challenges facing courts statewide.
“Each day, judicial officers and court staff across our state interact with and impact the lives of thousands of individuals,” wrote Chief Justice Madsen, “from Walla Walla to Aberdeen and from Bellingham to Vancouver, the need for justice can be found in a young woman and her children, seeking protection from an abusive partner; to a senior citizen who becomes a victim of a home foreclosure scam.”
“These personal stories that judges see every day, remind us that our legal system is about ensuring that basic rights and protections are available to every citizen of our state.”
Madsen relays how the funding crisis is taking a serious toll, especially at the local level where superior courts have taken the brunt of cuts, adding up to more than $17 million dollars in reductions in the past two years alone. “This has resulted in elimination of drug courts, juvenile court services and delays of civil trials,” she reported.
At the district and municipal court levels, budget cuts are impeding core functions, forcing court closures, and eliminating telephonic assistance to the public. Other jurisdictions have resorted to shortening the hours that the public has to resolve basic legal issues such as paying a traffic infraction or petitioning for a domestic violence protection order.
The State of the Judiciary Address also discusses the increased demand for civil legal services in this economic downturn, and the importance of improving public defense standards in Washington State.
Madsen became the third woman to serve on the state’s highest court when she was elected in 1992. On January 11, 2010, she was sworn in as the Court’s 55th Chief Justice, making her the second woman to preside over the Washington judicial branch.
Full text of the written address can be found online by clicking here.
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