Court Funding Task Force
Work Group Co-chairs Meeting
January 16, 2003
Present: Wayne Blair, John Cary, Ann Schindler, Cheryl Bleakney, Jan Michels, Kirk Johns, Steve Dwyer, Tom Warren Ron Hjorth, Deborah Fleck, Ron Ward, Mary Mcqueen, Janet McLane, Ramsey Radwan, Doug Haake, Gil Austin, Wendy Ferrell, Jeff Hall
General Discussion Points:
Work Group Plans:
Problem Identification (Jan Michels, Jeff Amram – Co-chairs)
Adequately funded courts preserve public safety, enhance equal justice, and maintain the rule of law. When inadequate funding exists, courts chase the dollars.
Work Plan: (not necessarily in order)
The core costs as identified in 1997 were: judges' salaries, interpreter costs, jury costs, witness costs, and public defense costs. The work group should look at civil legal needs costs also.
Item 3 of the work plan would be accomplished by gathering a group of court managers from both levels of trial court in a focus group type setting.
Possible presentations to the work group:
These groups would be asked to present the problems faced by their constituency groups relative to funding: Access to Justice, Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. The work group would also like to hear from Yolande Williams, Seattle Municipal Court administrator, about her experience with the California trial court funding project.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction – Delivery of Services (Judge Ann Schindler, Ron Ward – Co-chairs)
The Work Group will focus on whether public policy is currently uniformly administered and the most effective structure for delivering services. The work group will determine where there are gaps in public access or service, and further decide whether these gaps can be addressed by additional funding or other changes. Toward this objective, various customers of CLJ courts should be involved in the discussion (domestic violence petitioners; the Bar, law enforcement, etc.) Another important perspective will be the views of city and county legislative officials and executives. What do they see as the most important considerations in deciding how court services will be provided to their community? Given the potential breadth of the charge and the complexity of issues, some prioritization of the most important concerns or issues will probably be necessary.
Resources to gather immediately include:
Funding Alternatives (Ron Hjorth, Kirk Johns – Co-chairs)
One of the first “challenges” of the Work Group is to understand the different definitions as to what constitutes the problem of court funding and work from the definition of the problem as set out by the Problem Identification Work Group.
Other efforts will be undertaken to synthesize the points of Judge Godfrey’s paper on the history of court funding and the several series of recommendations from the various work groups that have dealt with court organization.
The final effort will be to determine what should be the general mechanism for funding the courts and what the “delivery systems” are for revenue that are generated.
Materials that are needed for part of this analysis is information on use of judgment fees, perhaps from the National Center for State Courts; filing fee studies; any fees on ADR providers imposed by states and the information on core missions of the courts.
Work group membership should be enhanced by seeking judges for CLJs, either from eastern Washington or rural counties; court administrators and additional members of the Bar, outside King County , who can be recommended by judges as having a particular interest in court funding issues.
Implementation Strategies (Judges Fleck, Dwyer, and John Cary – Co-chairs)
The group discussed a number of issues including which associations should be represented and which individual representatives would be good to have on the committee or at least be willing to help carry the message. We also discussed the fact that we should not wait until alternatives were developed. Accordingly, it was decided that the workgroup would develop implementation “outlines” for 3-4 generic funding alternatives (increased fees, increased taxes, etc.). This approach will ensure that “downtime” is minimized and that strategic relationships will be in place when the alternatives are approved.
Public Education (Judge Tom Warren, Cheryl Bleakney – Co-chairs)
A consensus was reached that a major emphasis of the early work of our group would be educating the major constituencies of the Court system about the progress of the task force and the nature of the recommendations as they were being developed. It was decided that the task of this group is technical in nature and that work group members, preferably, should have some experience in public outreach, media relations, public relations, or expertise in contact and persuasion of state leaders and opinion makers. As a result the staff was given the following tasks:
Based on a review of the work group charge the following were identified as the program of work of the group:
These tasks are to be presented to the full work group at its first meeting for consideration and amplification.
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