Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
“Justice at Work” open court event will showcase Thurston County courts in actionJanuary 03, 2011
OLYMPIA — The inner-workings of the Thurston County courts will be showcased in a special open house event Jan. 5 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Thurston County Superior and District courts, as well as the Family and Juvenile Court, which is a branch of the superior court. This is the first event of its kind held jointly by Thurston County courts and the statewide Justice in Jeopardy Committee.
Visitors will be able to sit in on hearings for or learn more about:
· Veteran’s Court, the first in the state;
· Drug Court;
· Mental Illness Court;
· Family Treatment Court;
· Juvenile probation;
· Legal aid;
· Children’s advocacy;
· Crime victim assistance;
· Public defense;
· Court records;
· Court interpreters;
· Assistance for self-filers, and more.
The public is invited to an opening ceremony at 1 p.m. in the superior court (Bldg. 2), and then welcome to visit court hearings taking place throughout the courts, with maps and posted signs explaining what is happening inside each courtroom.
The event will also include resource tables containing a wide array of information on court services and justice programs, the opportunity to talk with court users about their experiences, ask questions of volunteers and guides, visit the self-help kiosks of the County Clerk’s office, and take trips to the Family and Juvenile Court (vans provided, or visitors can visit the court on their own).
Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen will speak briefly during the opening ceremony as will Thurston County Superior Court Presiding Judge Paula Casey, Thurston County District Court Presiding Judge Brett Buckley, and a small number of court users sharing their experiences with the justice system.
The Thurston County Courthouse is located at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia, 98502. The Family & Juvenile Court is located at 2801 32nd Ave. SW. Tumwater, 98501.
“We are excited by the opportunity to show the community how the courts work. The courts are always open to the public, but January 5 will provide a chance to learn about specific court programs and ask questions. We hope to see many of our community members at the open house,” Judge Casey said.
The event is co-sponsored by the Justice in Jeopardy Initiative, a statewide network of judges, attorneys, court administrators, county clerks and other justice system professionals working to improve the state’s judicial system and stabilize funding for its courts.
“Amazing work is being done every day in the courts to help our residents find the help they need and the justice they deserve,” said Chief Justice Madsen, who co-chairs the Justice in Jeopardy Implementation Committee. “In these tough budget times, the judicial branch is working harder and more creatively to bridge the budget gaps that strain the delivery of justice.”
State legislators began working several years ago with the Justice in Jeopardy Task Force to reform the judicial branch funding system and provide more state dollars for court operations, though some of those dollars have been lost and progress on reform halted in the economic decline. Local lawmakers are also working hard to keep courthouse doors open and justice operating. For instance, Thurston County Commissioners did not cut Thurston County court budgets for 2010 after having to cut court funding in the previous two years.
The Justice in Jeopardy Initiative, in the long run, advocates equal responsibility between the state and local government funding of court operations — currently the state bears about 17 percent of the cost of court operations, prosecution and public defense, with counties and cities paying the other 83 percent.
“We understand the reality in this very difficult economy, but it’s also true that in times like these, many people turn to the courts to resolve serious issues and most come to court without attorneys,” Madsen said. “We thank the hard-working staff members and volunteers who are helping so many people navigate the system, and we ask that lawmakers remember the increased demands on the courts and the constitutional right to justice.”
Madsen said she hopes residents and community leaders will take advantage of the open house opportunity to learn more about the operations and programs of their local courts.
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