COURT FUNDING TASK FORCE
FUNDING ALTERNATIVES WORK GROUP
July 31, 2003
Members Attending: Kirk Johns, Andra Motyka, Bill Fosbre, Sophia Byrd, Gail Stone, Judge Gordon Godfrey, Betty Gould, Ron Mattson, John Cary, Judge Richard White, Hugh Spitzer, Barb Miner, Tammy Fellin, Joan Ferebee, Judge David Tracy, Judge Craig Matheson, David Donnan
Staff Attending: Jeff Hall, Gil Austin
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by Kirk Johns
Addition to the Agenda: Kirk Johns presented the report of the Allocations Subcommittee Chaired by Gail Stone and that was added to the agenda as item 6 of the agenda
Minutes: The minutes of the July 10, 2003 were reviewed and corrections were requested to be submitted.
Status Report: Jeff Hall reported that the NCSC replied that this group had collected information that was available but did recommend the Carl Barr publication, “Separate but Subservient.” Jeff Hall mentioned that there was an interest by the subcommittee on presenting all prior court studies of the Washington courts. Kirk Johns thought that recommendations from previous courts have already been identified and that a group should be formed to review these studies after the September task force meeting as a means of cross checking to make sure all topics have been discussed. Judge Godfrey submitted that many of these recommendations are already known and that he would be able to present a summary of them. Kirk Johns recommended having a review of funding recommendations from previous court task forces as a future agenda item.
SimGap Analysis: Jeff Hall explained his gap analysis and that it models personnel needs and costs and focuses on the cost of personnel since this cost represents about 70% of court costs. The program allows for modification of staffing levels and other costs. A major exception is that juvenile court costs are not included and public defense costs are not included as well as many operating costs such as jury costs, travel, witness fees and many other costs. Capital costs of adding FTEs and jury fee proposals are included in the analysis.
The analysis makes some staffing standards assumptions for purposes of arriving at a proposed figure.
Jeff Hall explained the aspects of the model starting with the superior court judges as the number of these positions and the salary paid to the judges is known.
Kirk Johns asked how the trial judges would respond if it was proposed that the state pick up the cost of court commissioners. Kirk Johns asked if there is also a chance that this would lead to a discussion of whether a distinction should be made between the duties of judges and court commissioners. Judge Godfrey pointed out that court commissioners are now entitled to perform additional duties than has formerly been the case. Kirk Johns asked if the counties would react favorably and Sophia Byrd thought there would be a favorable reaction if the state paid the court commissioners at 100% and retain 50% of the judges salary.
In the SimGap model superior court staff is broken into staff that provides direct support to the judges and those who perform administrative duties. The model indicates that each judge should have a court reporter and this is shown in the amount of the gap.
Another assumption is that there is a judicial assistant/bailiff per judge and that there should be a law clerk to support every three judges with a cost factor of $3.5 million and if there is one of these staff per judge and the cost would of course increase by at least $1 million. Kirk Johns asked if the judges would accept the proposition that there should be at least a law clerk per judge. Andra Motyka suggested checking for national information on the number of clerks per judge. Judge Matheson suggested law clerks would not be used in all types of cases so that a formula might be one clerk for two judges.
Staffing ratios for superior court administrative staff are still being prepared and certain superior court administrators are being contacted to see what they would prefer for additional staffing. More information is needed in superior court data for staff.
Superior Court Clerks data has been collected from legislative fiscal notes information which uses a filings per staff formula.
District and Municipal Court data for judges was also presented. Salary survey by DMCJA was used for municipal courts. Municipal court staff data came from salary surveys by the administrators’ associations.
Jury fees were modeled on the jury commission recommendations for increased juror fees, but does not include mileage.
The model estimates that the funding gap is about $36 million, without the juvenile court costs.
Kirk Johns points out that an effort has been made to determine data independently for measuring the funding needs. Kirk Johns recommended that suggestions for assumptions to the model should be forwarded to Jeff Hall and that this simulation could be forwarded to members of the work group for the sole use of the work group.
State Local Allocations: Gail Stone presented the paper by the State/Local Allocation Subcommittee which is an amalgamation of the presentation to the Problem Definition Work Group. Salaries would retain the same split for superior court judges due to the constitutional provisions but the state should pay 100% of the administrative staff; district court judges would have 100% paid by the state and staff and that municipal courts should be funded fully by cities.
Juvenile dependency representation and parent representation services should be paid by the state and juvenile GAL services also paid by the state.
Criminal & Juvenile Interpreter costs should be paid by the state.
Criminal Jury Costs, including mileage reimbursement, would be paid by the state.
Criminal and juvenile criminal indigent defense, investigations and experts would remain a local responsibility.
Defense costs in first degree aggravated murder cases should be paid by the state.
BECCA, all case types, should be paid by the state.
The group also discussed the pragmatic problems of the implications of these recommendations in terms of their implementation.
Barb Miner proposed including dependency publication costs as a state obligation.
Kirk Johns expressed the view that there is not always a rational allocation of responsibilities between the clerk and the court or the basis for funding these services. Betty Gould disagreed, saying there is a support role the clerks play and there is a constitutional basis for the split of duties between the clerks and courts. Gail Stone reported that Jan Michels would take the discussion of who would be paying salaries for administrators and clerks to the Task Force Steering Committee. Salaries between the administrators and clerks office would be on a different compensation basis, one by the state and the other by the county, which could present some difficulties.
Kirk Johns asked for a poll of the members as to whether the report from the Allocation Subcommittee could be taken to the Task Force at the September meeting.
Gail Stone asked about the salaries issue for superior courts and for district court or is it the recommendation that superior court administrative staff be paid by the state, district court staff paid by the state, municipal courts be funded by the cities and clerks office staff costs be paid by the counties.
Jeff Hall referenced the position that since 80% of the cases filed in district court were filed by the WSP that supports the suggestion that the state pay for the costs of district courts. Further discussion was made in support of statute funding of district courts since the handling in district courts of citations filed in violation of state statutes and the proposal of another work group that municipal court jurisdiction be expanded with further discussion of the history of municipal and district court handling of state or local ordinances.
Discussion of the minimal variances between the ordinances of many municipal ordinances.
Review in district courts of the criminal, violation and civil caseload.
Based on the workload discussion Dave Donnan thought that a realistic funding allocation would be 50% for state and local. Barb Miner asked what that implies for county employee compensation which varies from county-to-county. Andra Motyka explained that Pennsylvania is starting to take over the salaries of court administrative staff.
The question asked is whether the state would pay for municipal criminal, juvenile interpreters and jury costs for criminal cases.
Kirk Johns proposes that staffing compensation problems need to be recognized in the work group recommendation and let those problems be set aside for later consideration.
Kirk Johns felt that more justification should be established for sharing the salaries of the superior courts. Wayne Blair felt that the rational for the recommendations of each group should be set out.
Judge Godfrey recommended that the group should consider such things as the role of the PSEA; the role of user fees; and the principle that courts should not pay for themselves.
Kirk Johns asked that the subcommittee set out justifications for the basis of the recommendations so they can be taken to the task force.
Tammy Fellin and Sophia Byrd stated they were not prepared to take a position until there is knowledge of what other recommendations are being made.
Wayne Blair related that there are issues that are being raised as the work continues and the governance issues of voting, which needs to take place without the final concurrence of your constituent associations.
General discussion ensued about the basis for members to vote on the issues as the issues arise.
Kirk Johns proposed granting approval of the subcommittee document on Allocation of Costs, which was agreed to by the work group.
Discussion of PSEA account by Judge Godfrey, who explained the account began about 20 years ago and the need to fund the district courts, the AOC and the Justice Information System and has subsequently been divided among many state entities. There are currently 19 entities that receive the state’s share of the funding from PSEA. With the end of the MVET the burden to fund a variety of state programs feel back onto the PSEA. Judge Godfrey recommended that the PSEA is directly related to increasing funding for the courts and the court rulings that determine that there is a need for the legislature to fund the court system.
Bill Fosbre spoke in favor of the need to remove PSEA funding from the funding formula for the courts and how the cost of the PSEA is now more than the cost of the original fine.
Wayne Blair asked what was the original rationale for the state receiving any funds from PSEA. Judge Godfrey credited the arrival of the justice information system.
Kirk Johns proposed there were three options – abandon PSEA; repair PSEA; disassociate the courts from PSEA.
Bill Fosbre explained the three means by which the Supreme Court raised funds – base penalty schedule, JIS fee, and rounding up to the nearest dollar for uneven fines.
STATUS OF PSEA DELIBERATIONS
TENTATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS RE: PSEA
Take Courts out of raising revenue for their own pockets and setting the amount of fines and penalties and establish an alternative funding revenue for the courts.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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