Washington State Courts: Board for Judicial Administration
September 13, 2000
Doubletree Hotel, Spokane
Members Present: Chief Justice Richard P. Guy, co-chair; Judge James M. Murphy, co-chair; Judge William W. Baker; Mr. M. Wayne Blair; Judge Christine Cary; Judge Robert L. Harris; Judge Vicki L. Hogan; Judge Stephen J. Holman; Judge Ronald Kessler; Judge Frank L. Kurtz; Ms. Mary McQueen; Judge Robert McSeveney; Judge Susan J. Owens; Judge James M. Riehl; Judge Jay B. Roof; and Judge Karen Seinfeld
Guests Present: Justice Gerry L. Alexander; Judge Daniel J. Berschauer; Justice Bobbe J. Bridge; Judge Deborah Fleck; Judge Gordon Godfrey; Judge Leonard W. Kruse and Judge T. W. Small
Staff Present: Mr. Gil Austin; Mr. Rick Coplen; Ms. Jude Cryderman; Ms. Wendy Ferrell; Mr. Doug Haake; Ms. Janet McLane; and Mr. Victor Moore
Members Absent: Mr. Richard Eymann; Judge James F. Gavin; Mr. Jan Eric Peterson; Judge Michael Roewe; and Justice Charles Z. Smith
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chief Justice Richard P. Guy.
It was moved by Judge Kurtz and seconded by Judge Holman to approve the minutes of the July 22 meeting as published. The motion passed unanimously.
Reports and Information
The Board discussed the funding recommendations made by the Project 2001 Committee. The members were assured that funding has been discussed in the workgroups. The Chief Justice reminded the BJA members the legislature will be looking for efficiencies in the court system. The judiciary should be prepared to be accountable and respond to questions about how money is spent.
"Tab" Educational Publication
Judge Fleck reported on the Judiciary and the Media Subcommittee's proposal to produce a multi-page "tab" publication. The "tab" would be published in the year in which there is not a voters' pamphlet. It would be distributed in a manner similar to the voters' pamphlet. . In addition, copies could be available in conjunction with speeches, from libraries, provided to students, placed in jury rooms, etc. The "tab" would be an education tool, covering topics such as: Washington's Court system; jury service; family court services; small claims; public defenders; legal services, etc.
Judge Fleck continued, the subcommittee is seeking donated services and applying for grants from the State Justice Institute and the Casey Foundation to aid in projects. A steering committee will be created to advise the subcommittee on its upcoming projects.
Core Mission/Best Practices Committee
Judge Hogan reviewed the proposed membership of this Committee:
1 Supreme Court Justice
1 Court of Appeals Judge
3 Superior Court Judges
3 Courts of Limited Jurisdictions Judges
1 Court of Appeals Clerk
1 Superior Court Administrator
1 County Clerk
2 Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Administrators
Mr. Blair asked if a lawyer representative would be appropriate. Judge Hogan indicate a Bar representative would be a great addition to the group. The Board also discussed the inclusion of a juvenile court administrator.
It was moved by Judge Kurtz and seconded by Judge Roof to approve the proposed membership of the Core Mission/Best Practices Committee with the addition of a lawyer and representative from the juvenile court administrators. The motion passed.
Judge Baker informed the Board the composition of the Legislative Committee, in addition to himself is Judge McSeveney, Judge Kessler, Judge O'Connor, Judge Lukevich and Wayne Blair.
He advised the Board it wasn't feasible for the Committee to review every piece of legislation relating to the judiciary and provide a recommendation to the BJA. Instead only those bills with broad import or with possible conflict will be reviewed. It was recommended during the discussion that bills with financial impact should also be reviewed. During the legislative session the Executive Committee of the BJA will act as the "SWAT" team in reviewing this legislation.
Judge Baker said the Committee has one action item for the Board's consideration, the Access to Justice Resolution. He reported that the committee made a few modifications to the proposed resolution and otherwise unanimously recommended it. The Board briefly discussed the proposed resolution.
It was moved by Judge Baker, on behalf of the Legislative Committee, that the Board for Judicial Administration adopt the proposed Civil Equal Justice Resolution. The motion was seconded by Judge Kessler.
Discussion followed regarding the use of the term "undermines." It was suggested "undermines" be replaced with "severely limits."
It was moved by Judge Kurtz and seconded by Judge Hogan to amend the resolution by replacing the word "undermines" with the words "severely limits." The motion passed with one nay.
A motion was then made to adopt the original motion as amended. The motion passed.
Judge Murphy reviewed the discussion paper for the long-range plan for the courts. He said the planning philosophies were:
- Plan should be simple.
- It is a marketing plan.
- Identify target audience
- Identify competitors - who/what?
- What area is BJA engaged in?
- Identify critical function/core areas
- Identify boundaries/scope
- Identify partners - internal/external organizations
- Define the environment.
- Focus on strengths not weaknesses.
- Develop assumptions.
- Declare a plan focus.
- Objectives must be measurable and specific.
- Plan the use of resources, money and time.
Judge Murphy reviewed the mission statement for Washington's Courts.
The mission of the Court of Washington is to:
- Provide access to justice.
- Meet all responsibilities in a timely and expeditious manner.
- Provide equality, fairness and integrity in their proceedings.
- Maintain judicial independence and accountability.
- Reach a fair and just result by adherence to the procedural and substantive law, thereby instilling trust and confidence in the public.
Judge Murphy continued, by identifying issues upon which to base strategies. They include: jury service; child abuse and neglect; child custody and support; judicial/legislative relations; court financing; judicial budget and performance; adequate staffing; uniform local court rules, etc.
Judge Murphy explained external factors also effect the ability of the courts to implement a long-range plan. Those include: 1) lack of direct staff; 2) lack of funds, and 3) reliance on other elected offices.
Mr. Coplen directed attention to the performance indicators. He stated some type of measurement tool needs to be in place to gauge the effectiveness and efficiencies of the courts. The measurement tool could very possibly be the trial court performance standards. Mr. Coplen suggested several full-day meetings in the next few months to begin work on the plan.
Chief Justice Guy indicated the two main functions of the BJA are:
1) for the judiciary to speak with one common voice; and
2) to serve as a "think tank" through the examination of the issues before the Board.
Judge Murphy said the next steps are to set-up day long meetings, review issues before the Board, define strategies and define performance indicators.
Ms. McLane briefly reviewed the draft recommendations of the Case Management Workgroup, Trial Court Administration Workgroup, Domestic Relations Workgroup, and Warrants Resolution Workgroup. Ms. McLane advised the work groups' final recommendations would be finalized over the next week for review at the full committee's meeting on September 25th. The recommendations will be presented to the BJA by co-chairs Judge Tom Swayze and Paul Steere at its October meeting.
Mr. Blair reviewed the recommendations of the Jurisdiction and Portability Workgroup, which he chairs. Mr. Blair pointed out that although the workgroup did not recommend court consolidation, it will recommend a comprehensive system of cooperation and coordination of certain court functions performed by both the superior and district/municipal courts. Mr. Blair covered a number of areas in which the coordination of duties could prove to not only be efficient, but possibly save money which could be directed to other court needs. Further he advised, the counties and cities want to be participants and are willing to collaborate to achieve court efficiencies.
The Board continued discussions relating to court efficiencies and incentives.
Public Trust and Confidence
Mr. Blair reported the Committee met on September 8th to review and approve their proposed budget request. The budget is before the BJA for approval.
Ms. McQueen reminded the Board that the Secretary of State's Office distributed the first ever statewide primary voters' pamphlet this year. The pamphlet included only those candidates, at all court levels, with opposition. As with the general election pamphlet, the pamphlet was distributed to all of the households in Washington.
Chief Justice Guy indicated a national debate is taking place on the elections of judges. Specifically, 1) voters are not given adequate information regarding candidates; and 2) costs of judicial elections are increasing. The Chief Justice suggested perhaps BJA should take another look at the Walsh Commission recommendations relating to the selection of judges.
New Action Items
Mr. Coplen advised the Salary Commission has not announced its meeting scheduled. Mr. Coplen asked that the Judicial Associations' salary recommendations be available for discussion at the December meeting.
The Board briefly discussed the Salary Commission.
Judge Berschauer reported two pieces of legislation are necessary to implement Commission recommendations. They are: 1) Two days or one trial and 2) juror fee increase and a court jury improvement fund. He continued, that Senator Kline is on board and ready to go that legislation.
The Board discussed the proposed juror fee increase. The increase would provide for the minimum $10 fee for the first day to be paid by the county. The second and subsequent days would be paid at $45 per day with the county paying $10 and the state paying $35.
The Board discussed both pieces of legislation recommended by the Jury Commission.
It was moved by Judge Kessler and seconded by Judge Baker that the Board for Judicial Administration support legislation this term for both trial court levels statewide, two days or one trial, jury fee increase and the court jury improvement fund. The bills are to be wholly separate bills. The motion passed.
Judge Berschauer indicated the Commission will move forward on the preparation of the court rules. Judge Berschauer thanked Chief Justice Guy and the Board for their support.
Budget Request Package
Judge Murphy reviewed BJA's 2001-2003 Budget Request Package .
Justice Bridge advised the Board that the Public Trust and Confidence Committee had revised its budget request at their last meeting. The Committee agreed to include an additional request of up to $50,000 for a public education communication plan, to result in a comprehensive strategy and analysis of the most effective communication vehicles for increasing public trust and confidence. The $175,000 request was retained, although changed by the Committee to fund the implementation of this strategic public education plan.
Justice Bridge provided an overview of the requested funding and anticipated projects of the Public Trust and Confidence Committee. The Board briefly discussed the Committee's budget request.
The Board was advised if the budget request is approved, requests would be prioritized and money allocated accordingly.
It was moved by Judge Baker and seconded by Judge Kurtz to adopt the Board for Judicial Administration 2001-2003 Budget Request Package with the modification presented by the Public Trust and Confidence Committee. The BJA Budget request is to be presented to the Supreme Court next week. The motion passed.
Mr. Coplen pointed out the proposed 2001 meeting schedule. Mr. Coplen advised the January 19 meeting conflicted with the Supreme Court's annual meeting with the WSBA. The January meeting will be rescheduled.
By-laws and Rule
The Board was reminded that they had been provided the BJA By-laws and BJA Rule 2 for review.
It was moved by Judge Baker and seconded by Judge Holman to accept the amendments to the By-law and Board for Judicial Administration Rule 2. Motion passed.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.