Problem Definition Work Group
August 14, 2003
Members in attendance:
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
The meeting was called to order. The meeting notes from July 17 were entered into the record as written.
Principles of Trial Court Funding
The work group discussed the principles provided by Ms. Michels (Attachment 1 - amended to reflect the work group's 8/14/03 discussion). In the definitional section, the work group agreed that for purposes of funding, facilities, indigent criminal defense and civil indigent legal services should not be considered. The group agreed these areas are all important and should be adequately funded but not as part of the trial court funding effort.
Regarding facilities, one rationale for not including this item is that assessing the adequacy of current facilities is beyond the scope of the task force and is the appropriate subject matter for another task force effort. Additionally, facilities are a separate part of the county and city funding process, i.e., a capital budget, and are generally viewed as extraordinary expenses. The indirect expenditures of operating the facility are accounted for in different ways by local government. Therefore in the 2000 budget analysis, where possible, these items are removed and should be footnoted as such.
Regarding criminal indigent defense, a rationale for not including this item is that trial courts assure provision of criminal indigent defense but do not administer the provision of the service. It is not the courts that employ, manage, or supervise the providers of the service. While criminal indigent defense is constitutionally mandated, it is not a service provided by the court. It is important for the court to maintain neutrality and the appearance of fairness.
Regarding civil indigent legal services, rationales for not including this item are: 1) provision of the service is not constitutionally mandated; 2) courts do not employ, manage, or supervise the providers of the service; and 3) it is important for the court to maintain neutrality and the appearance of fairness. This area includes not only representation of litigants but also the provision of information and education of litigants to empower them to resolve their issues on their own. The function of civil indigent legal services fits in the justice system area but the funding is more appropriately placed at the social policy level.
A correction was made to item H. to reflect that year 2000 costs and ratios are being used and applied to year 2002 filings.
Work group members raised concerns about Item L. The item should note that the input/output projections are based on "what currently exists", not "what should be". A caution should be placed on this item that the ratios and projections are at the macro level and not intended for use on an individual court level. The ratios do not constitute a methodology for determining the appropriate number of staff for a court.
There are three proposed ratio methodologies for county clerks staff. Mr. Hall is meeting with representatives of the county clerks to determine the preferred methodology. He will email the work group regarding the decision of that group.
It was decided to survey superior court judges regarding the appropriate law clerk to judge ratio. Mr. Hall and Mr. Johns will work together to design the questions. Suggested questions included: 1) how many law clerks do you currently have; 2) how much law clerk time could you use in an average week; and 3) list 5 things you would want a law clerk to do for you.
The work group discussed specialty courts (calendars). It was agreed the courts (calendars) have great social value but are very judicial and staff intensive. There may be some cost benefit to specialty courts but that benefit is not reflected in the court's budget. The ratios and projections include some minimal allowance for courts to implement special calendars. A footnote in SimGap should be included stating that as funding tightens, the court's ability to offer special calendars is one of the first areas to be effected.
The work group discussed adding a principle regarding the provision of services. To the extent of a court's jurisdiction, a court is a court and should offer the same services as another court having the same jurisdiction.
Trial Court Function Analysis (logical state/local balance)
The purpose of this document (Attachment 2 - amended to reflect the work group's 8/14/03 discussion) is to describe those functions that are most closely associated with the state. Judge Burns stated that municipal courts are not a discretionary service. Municipalities are required by statute to either establish an independent municipal court or contract with the county to provide court services to the municipality. Municipal courts are the same as district courts; they have to enforce state statutes. Ms. Sweeny stated that if the state is not going to provide some funding for municipal courts, then municipal courts should not have to forward revenue to the state. The work group agreed that judicial salaries should all be treated the same. There is not, however, a direct tie between the state and municipal court judges' salaries. For superior and district court judges, the number of judges and the compensation for the judges is set by the state; this is not the case for municipal court judges.
Jury Costs for Criminal Cases - There should not be a distinction between criminal and civil jury costs. Trying to break down jury costs by case type may be problematic for accounting purposes.
The document should note that half of the witness fees in felony cases are currently paid by the state.
The Problem Definition Work Group and the Funding Alternatives Work Group will meet together on September 26 to discuss this document.
Base-Lining Court Functions
The work group discussed several items of unfinished business regarding court functions to ensure they are included in the model.
Guardianship monitoring - This function is currently being done by volunteers in some courts; however it is not a big part of the workload so not worth a separate analysis.
Edits were made to Principle L to discuss the ability of the model to address specialty courts.
Witness fees - These are included for superior court in the state local allocation as part of the note.
Family court services - This is included in the current SimGap model.
Juvenile court functions - The work group agreed that all juvenile court functions should be included. This includes detention, BECCA services, and probation. These functions are not severable and are directed by the superior court. This decision is consistent with the in loco parentis theory of juvenile courts.
FUTURE MEETING DATES
The next meeting is scheduled for: Friday, September 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The meeting location will be determined.
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