Courts of Limited Jurisdiction –
Delivery of Services Work Group Meeting
Doubletree Hotel Seatac Airport
April 7, 2004
Members: Co-Chair Judge Ann Schindler; Co-Chair Ron Ward; Justice Susan Owens; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Wesley Saint Clair; Judge Stephen Holman; Judge Robert McSeveney; Judge David Edwards; Judge Eileen Kato; Judge Richard Fitterer; Judge Sara Derr; Edsonya Charles; Diane Carlson; Mike Kenyon; Bonnie Woodrow (for Joe McGuire); Ann Danieli; Linda Bell and Pam Springer
Sophia Byrd (WSAC); and Tammy Fellin (AWC)
AOC Staff: Mary McQueen; Janet McLane; Doug Haake; Andrew Glenn and Jennifer O’Hern
Co-Chair Ron Ward welcomed Co-Chair Judge Ann Schindler and Wayne Blair, Court Funding Task Force Chair, at 9:15 AM. Ron asked that everyone introduce themselves.
Overview and Status of Task Force Activities
Judge Schindler reported that she and Ron Ward reported on the Work Group CLJ Court Models and the Principles and Concepts document to the October 14 Court Funding Task Force meeting, where minor changes were made to the Principles (green handout in Tab 11).
She noted that the plan today was to focus on the changes that were made to the Concepts by the Task Force. We will have more time at the May 7 meeting to talk about court model structures.
Wayne Blair reported on the other work groups and events that are happening:
The Funding Alternatives Work Group (FAWG) is meeting every three weeks. They are focusing on how much revenue courts get and where it’s going. They are also narrowing down how much is being spent on trial courts. Their estimate is $420 Million, including indigent defense. They have developed a model to determine how many staff, clerks and administrative offices are needed for each additional judge and how much is needed to provide ongoing services. The estimated gap for trial courts is $60 Million, not including indigent defense. The State of Washington pays only 10.8 percent of trial court expenditures, which is the lowest in the nation. The average is 46 percent paid by states.
We will see recommendations come out of this effort, such as increasing filing fees, and possibly abolishing the PSEA Fund or changing the PSEA Fund so it’s not as complicated.
During the next legislative session, the Task Force plans to recommend the state assume more responsibility for trial courts by using the Nexus approach to show that the state should pay for services it mandates.
Judge Saint Clair reported on the findings of the King County Council’s Governance Report. Included is a section on the potential desirability of consolidation of the King County Superior and District Courts.
Judge Holman noted that he feels that the Court Funding Task Force is about court funding, not court consolidation. We already talked about this issue through the Project 2001 process.
Ron Ward said that consolidation was implemented in California, with mixed results.
Wayne Blair said that the Legislature is not aware of the history of the Project 2001 discussions and we need to educate them.
Mary McQueen added that a National Study called, “Courts That Succeed,” says that the savings from consolidation come from merging the administration of courts, rather than restructuring them.
Mike Kenyon said that the municipal interlocal agreements in King County are working well. A couple of courts are pulling out (Mercer Island and Newcastle), but most are optimistic that the two year contracts are working well and may be extended in a satisfactory way.
Diane Carlson said that we still haven’t seen the end of budget cuts yet, which could curtail the county’s ability to provide services to cities. There is an RFP out for an operational master plan. The goal of this endeavor is to look at the models of court services, compare and decide on a road map for the next 5 to 10 years for District Court and how it provides those services. The completed project is to be done by December 2004.
*Judge Schindler added that we will also have copies of the ACLU Report and the State Bar Task Force on Indigent Defense Study and/or the Executive Summary provided at the May 7 meeting.
Workload and Jurisdiction Issues
Doug Haake provided copies of legislation introduced the past two years to lower felony property crime thresholds (SB 5262 -2002, and for SSB 5628 - 2003). Washington numbers are low. This recommendation was a Project 2001 recommendation. A lot of cases that could be prosecuted as felonies aren’t being prosecuted now (only as misdemeanors). This shouldn’t increase future caseload. However, the Legislature has chosen not to pass legislation the past two years.
The thresholds in SSB 5628 (2003) are slightly different than in SB 5262 (2002), which could be due to inflation. Statewide, 1422 cases could be filed in district courts and 1489 statewide in municipal courts, rather than superior courts.
Sophia Byrd asked if we had the jail costs available for these bills. Doug responded that CTED *calculates jail costs in their fiscal notes, so we could get copies of those for the next meeting.
Mary added that there are sentencing alternatives available in district courts that aren’t available in superior courts.
Judge Edwards said that district courts do a better job of responding to non payees, are more efficient and the probation departments are run by judges. Superior courts really don’t have as much control over probation and DOC no longer handles state probation.
Judge Corinna Harn said that people should pay back the money they steal. If a judge can watch them more closely, it makes it easier to collect, which argues for these cases to be in limited jurisdiction courts.
Sophia Byrd added that currently, district courts have more resources, but with the recent years’ cuts, we will end up lacking in funding just as much as the superior courts.
Mary McQueen said that part of looking at adequate funding is that we need to ensure that courts have the money to do the services.
Judge Holman said that the quality of probation is sometimes better in the cities than in the counties. Changes would need to be made if cases are to move down to the CLJ level, since you don’t need heavy probation, just good monitoring. The proposal might not increase cases as much as it first seems.
Tammy Fellin said that it sounds like we are giving cases to the cities that have quality probation services, which means more work for those who put more money into probation services. As we move ahead, we need to recognize that we have to talk about these issues, but the “shifting jurisdiction” issue should come after we decide on how to fund the overall gap of $60 Million.
Edsonya Charles added that if the state mandates the service, the state should pay for it. Other city representatives expressed concern about the potential increase in costs to cities.
Mary said that this is not a new mandate for courts; it’s an adjustment of where certain cases should be filed based on the deflated value of property crimes as a result of inflation over the past decades.
Deanna Dawson asked why we are talking about this issue in this group.
Wayne replied that the reason this subgroup is a part of the Court Funding Task Force, is that the efficiency of CLJ courts effect funding.
Judge David Edwards stated that the issue of redefining property crime limits comes up all the time in the legislature. It will happen; we just need to have a response to it. The most important thing is to remember our purpose and who we serve.
DUI Caseload Analysis
Janet McLane introduced Dr. Andrew Glenn, AOC, and reminded the group that we have provided some snapshots of how DUIs are processed in the courts of limited jurisdiction. DUIs are a huge resource load on the CLJs and an important part of their work.
Dr. Glenn distributed a handout on DUI Outcome Measures in the Courts of Limited Jurisdiction.
In starting his presentation, he explained that this paper examines some outcome measures for DUI charges in the CLJs to see if any systematic differences can be observed based upon two factors we can clearly identify for each jurisdiction:
He said that at each stage of a DUI case, (1) law enforcement, (2) prosecution, and the (3) courts, and the overall view (which looks at outcome likelihoods from start to finish), the general conclusion is that the difference in courts for all measures is quite large.
The tables in the report focus on the following four areas:
Judge Schindler commented that this report shows that DUIs are handled in various ways across the state.
After reading the recommendations in Bob Boruchowitz’s memo to the CLJ Work Group, discussion followed. Sophia Byrd asked if CLJs are included in the work to identify current costs of indigent defense and the gap. Jeff Hall is considering adding them in the mix.
Judge Holman stated that we should focus on training of judges to ensure they engage each defendant about waiver and advisement of rights. He feels that Mr. Boruchowitz’s recommendations 1 (“All courts of limited jurisdiction should provide counsel for indigent accused persons at all criminal proceedings, including arraignment and probation reviews.”) and 2 (“All courts of limited jurisdiction should require prosecutors to be present for all criminal proceedings.”) are too broad.
Ann Danieli commented that defendants should have available to them an attorney to speak with rather than having a judge advise them (judges may be too intimidating for some defendants.)
Judge McSeveney noted that statute requires that cities and counties shall develop written public defense standards and adhere to them.
Deanna Dawson said that she understands that courts WANT defense there, but sometimes the prosecutor doesn’t show. The question is how to pay them.
Regarding recommendation #6, “Courts that do not have diversion and re-licensing programs should consider establishing them,” Judge Schindler commented that we should, as a work group, recommend that all courts consider establishing re-licensing or diversion programs to facilitate cost savings.
Linda Bell made a motion that our work group recommends the following:
“Develop a Statewide Task Force to come up with a [Best Model] for re-licensing and/or diversion programs.” Motion was seconded. Motion Passed.
Court Organization Models
Option E, community municipal courts, has been added to the Court Organization Models developed by the Work Group.
Mike Kenyon stated that a dozen or more cities in King County currently contract with each other.
Judge McSeveney added that Title 3 is unclear about whether cities can contract with each other.
The discussion prompted a question to the work group - if a sheriff writes a citation within the city limits, what stops them from filing a state citation in a municipal court.
Should cities or district courts have each exclusive jurisdiction? Or should both have concurrent jurisdiction?
Diane Carlson said that she needs financial information to decide between the two.
Mary McQueen stated that exclusive jurisdiction (for Superior and District Courts) should be considered and has been recommended in the past. There is no confusion about where to file. Multi-jurisdictional issues need to be dealt with. We can solve the issue from a cost-benefits analysis, or from the principles purpose.
Co-Chair Ron Ward said that this group is charged with making recommendations with the purpose of coming up with more “effective services.”
Judge Harn suggested we create a model that separates and possibly consolidates administrative and judicial functions.
Deanna Dawson gave her opinion that exclusive jurisdiction should only be for full-time municipal courts.
Judge Holman spoke for keeping jurisdiction as it is, but expanding anti-harassment to municipal courts. He does not support exclusive jurisdiction for municipal courts, but he could support concurrent jurisdiction with district court.
Next Meeting Agenda – May 7, 2004
Judge Schindler wrapped up the meeting by summarizing what will be on the next meeting agenda:
* Continuation of the jurisdiction discussion
* ACLU and State Bar Report on Civil Legal Needs
* Discussion of the district court procedures for discovery
Meeting adjourned at 12:45 PM.
|Courts | Organizations | News | Opinions | Rules | Forms | Directory | Library|
|Back to Top | Privacy and Disclaimer Notices|