Approved by the Task Force on April 5, 2004
Members present: Wayne Blair, chair, Cheryl Bleakney, John Cary, Edsonya Charles, David Donnan, Judge Stephen Dwyer, Judge Deborah Fleck, Judge Gordon Godfrey, Ron Hjorth, Judge Robert Harris, Kirk Johns, Senator Adam Kline, Representative Lois McMahan, Mary McQueen, Judge Robert McSeveney, Jan Michels, Retired Judge James Murphy, Becky Roe for John Connelly, Judge Ann Schindler, Judge John Schultheis, Ron Ward and Judy Warnick
Guests present: Sophia Byrd, Tammy Fellin, Doug Levy, Ron Mattson and Gail Stone
Staff present: Gil Austin, Jude Cryderman, Wendy Ferrell, Doug Haake, Jeff Hall, Janet McLane and Yvonne Pettus
Call to order
Mr. Blair called the meeting to order. Those in attendance introduced themselves.
It was moved by Judge Murphy and seconded to approve the minutes of the October 14, 2003 as published. The motion carried.
Combined Work Group Principles
Judge Murphy suggested taking a straw vote thus eliminating the need for discussion of those principles with consensus. Representative McMahan requested clarification of the last sentence in Principle 9. Members of the subcommittee that fine tuned the Principles explained that the second sentence was added in an attempt to ensure that citizens are being treated equally no matter which court their case is in. In addition, citizens should receive the quality of justice in any court. It was suggested that the second sentence of Principle 9 be reworked by the subcommittee.
It was moved by Judge Godfrey to approve the first sentence of Principle 9. The motion was seconded and carried.
It was moved by Judge Schultheis to send the second sentence of Principle 9 back to the subcommittee for additional work. The motion was seconded and carried.
Judge Murphy moved for the adoption of Principles 1-13 with the exception of the second sentence of Principle 9. Judge Schultheis seconded the motion which carried with one abstention.
Mr. Hall reminded the members that Simgap is used to define how much of a gap exists between current funding and needed funding. Mr. Hall explained how he had arrived at the figures used in the Simgap presentation. The members asked that the following be included in the Simgap calculations;
In addition, staff was requested to review how other states handle facility costs. Staff was also asked to look at juvenile intervention services. Staff will also provide cost estimates for 2 day/1 trial proposal.
Work Group Progress Reports
Ms. Michels reported that the State Bar has a panel compiling information relating to criminal defense and juvenile representation. This panel will determine based on a survey distributed to judges, court administrators and others the needed number of public defenders versus the current number. The panel’s report to the Bar Board of Governors will include recommendations regarding contracts, standards, death penalty, administration, advocacy, efficiencies, issues of cost, etc. The recommendations will be presented to the Bar Board of Governors in January or February.
Ms. Michels advised that a subgroup of the Problem Definition Work Group would work with the Bar’s panel to come up with a dollar amount for indigent criminal defense. That information will be made available to the Court Funding Task Force.
Mr. Blair stated that there is a critical need for the Task Force to be provided the indigent defense information. He continued the Task Force would not be doing its job if the gap in indigent criminal defense was not identified. Mr. Donnan added that even though the Task Force may not be able to solve the problem, clearly the gap needs to be identified for the legislature because it is an essential part of the legal function.
Ms. Michels reported the work group’s report contains five sections:
1) What are we talking about (context chart)
2) Definition of the problem
4) Documentation of the 2000 expenditures
5) Here’s the gap (indigent defense should be included)
The members briefly discussed the need to include indigent defense costs when calculating the gap.
It was moved by Senator Kline to include in the math calculation of the gap what we currently have budgeted for criminal legal indigent defense and what is needed based on standards. A friendly amendment was made by Jan Michels to include how we do it. The amendment was accepted. The motion was seconded and carried.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
Mr. Ward reported that after extensive discussions the participants have agreed to enter into a “stand down” to await the end of the next legislative session at which time the group with reconvene. The group will look at jurisdiction, what changes should be made, and review court model.
Ms. Fellin indicated the Cities had tentatively agreed not to pursue legislation dealing with community courts. She continued the Cities has expressed an interest in pursuing legislative oversight or other venue to have discussions that include all three branches of government. The Cities are also considering introducing a study bill this session. Ms. Fellin advised that AWC represents 281 cities in Washington State, most of them don’t have a pressing need for a community court.
Senator Kline asked what contributory effect did the decision that all judges should be elected have on the decision to request a study group be created.
Ms. Fellin responded that up until that point the Cities believe the Task Force was brought together to reflect the views of all parties. She continued the Cities have participated in good faith to work out court funding issues.
The work group continued to discuss the need to keep the group together and focused on its purpose which is adequate funding for the courts. A number of ideas and possible solutions were discussed which included the Task Force addressing the CLJ issues in a timely manner, Cities should be forthcoming with their concerns and make suggestions for fixing , issues back to the CLJ Work Group for further discussion and possibly Mr. Blair and the Chief Justice meeting with appropriate people at the Cities.
Mr. Blair said that considerable discussion has taken place trying to work out what a stand down might be. The question of jurisdiction won’t be decided and ready for this legislative session. We do know that a bill on an independent study may be coming.
Mr. Blair and Ms. McQueen agreed to attend an AWC meeting to request that the Cities continue to resolve the problems by remaining in this forum.
Mr. Johns reported that the work group has created five work groups once of which will be recommending new and increases to specific filing fees. The five subcommittees are: fees schedule, PSEA, constitutional/statutory amendments, taxes and state/local share. Mr. Johns advised that the Work Group agreed to dispense with the November and December meetings to allow the subcommittees to meet. Subcommittee will report to the Work Group during January.
Judge Fleck reported the work group has held its third meeting with the focus being the Civil Equal Justice report that was recently released. The second issue before the work group is the CLJ discussions. A subgroup has been established to assist with focusing those discussions.
The Task Force discussed the appropriateness of taking a position on the filing fee increase bill. The Task Force was advised that BJA has not received a recommendation from the Task Force on Civil Equal Justice Funding, so BJA has not taken a position. Mr. Blair advised the members that the Funding Alternatives Work Group did not take a position on the filing fee bill.
Senator Kline suggested coordination of the various groups. He did advise that because of the short session the bill probably won’t go any where during the 2004 legislative session.
Mr. Johns advised that the Funding Alternatives Work Group may have a proposal addressing other filing fee increases by January. The Task Force was advised that some filing fee increases are necessary even though the courts won’t be funding out of the filing fee increases.
Ms. Bleakney reported that they are working closely with the Implementation Strategies Work Group. Their main focus will be educating the public why the courts need additional money.
Senator Kline said at some point the Task Force will have to look at the tax structure, not just the funds but how they will be raised. He said the pitch needs to be made not only to the legislature, but publicly.
Mr. Ward recommended pointing out the decreased services and reduced hours. He feels it necessary to humanize the issues and demonstrate to the public how lack of funding for the courts will affect their communities.
Representative McMahan feels it difficult to find anyone that doesn’t believe the administration of justice is a core function of government.
Mr. Blair recommended the next meeting of the Task Force take place after the first of the year.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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