Washington State Courts: Board for Judicial Administration
Members Present: Chief Justice Richard P. Guy, co-chair; Judge James M. Murphy, co-chair; Judge William W. Baker; Mr. Wayne Blair; Judge Christine Cary; Judge Robert Harris; Judge Vicki Hogan; Judge Stephen Holman; Judge Ronald Kessler; Judge Frank L. Kurtz; Justice Barbara Madsen; Ms. Mary McQueen; Judge Robert McSeveney; Judge Susan J. Owens; Judge James M. Riehl; and Judge Michael Roewe
December 15, 2000
Members Absent: Judge James F. Gavin; Judge Jay Roof; and Judge Karen Seinfeld
Guests Present: Justice Gerry Alexander; Mr. Phil Jans; Ms. Jan Michels; and Judge Ted W. Small (via phone)
Staff Present: Ms. Julia Appel; Mr. Gil Austin; Mr. Rick Coplen; Ms. Jude Cryderman; Mr. Doug Haake; Ms. Janet McLane; Mr. Victor Moore; Mr. Rick Neidhardt; and Ms. Yvonne Pettus
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chief Justice Richard P. Guy, co-chair.
It was moved by Judge Roewe and seconded by Judge Holman to approve the minutes of the November 17, 2000 meeting as published. The motion passed unanimously.
Trial Court Resolution
It was moved by Judge Roewe and seconded by Judge Baker to approve the Trial Court Coordination Resolution as drafted.
It was moved by Judge Baker and seconded by Judge Roewe to amend "1." under Call to Action, as follows:
1. Calls upon the Legislature to provide funding in the amount of $500,000 to support initial trial court coordination planning activities that address the goals stated above.
The Board had discussion relating to merger of the courts. The Board agreed they did not want to convey the message that trial court coordination was in any way a first step to merging the courts.
It was moved and seconded that AOC staff work in concurrence with Mr. Wayne Blair to add a statement to the end of the first paragraph under "findings" that merger is not the intent of the BJA. The motion passed unanimously.
The motion with amendment to "1. Under Call to Action" passed unanimously.
The motion to approve the Trial Court Coordination Resolution as amended passed unanimously.
Washington Association of Juvenile Court Administrators Community Programs Funding Study Request
Mr. Phil Jans, Chelan County Juvenile Court Administrator provided a brief history of funding provided to the juvenile courts, by the state, through the Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA). The Washington State Juvenile Court Administrators Association is recommending to the Legislature, a study of the method by which state funds are allocated to the local juvenile courts. Mr. Jans also explained the purpose of the study would be the examination of the budget and structure of JRA's community program division. The analysis would also propose options for improving the efficiency of the state oversight of funding for local juvenile justice programs.
It was moved by Judge Hogan and seconded by Judge Murphy to support the request for a study to examine the budget and structure of the JRA's community programs division and report to the Superior Court Judges' Association and the Board for Judicial Administration. The motion passed unanimously.
BJA's support will be in the form of a resolution.
Salary Commission Strategy
Chief Justice Guy reported that he met with Mr. Mike McKay to review materials to be presented to the Commission. The Chief Justice noted that, except for two members, the composition of the Commission remains the same.
The Board briefly discussed the representatives from each court level. They are:
Supreme Court Justice Alexander
Court of Appeals Judge Baker
Superior Courts Judge Harris
District/Municipal Courts Judge Riehl
OAC staff was requested to "beef-up" the information relating to the district courts in the materials to be provided to the Commission. AOC staff was also asked to set up a phone meeting with the four representatives.
Mr. Rick Neidhardt provided an overview of the proposed 2-days/1 trial legislation.
It was moved by Judge Kessler and seconded by Judge McSeveney to support the 2-days/1 trial legislation as drafted. The motion passed with a vote of 11 in favor and 1 against.
It was moved by Judge Kurtz and seconded by Judge Baker to support the juror compensation bill. The motion passed unanimously.
Access to Justice
Judge Small reported the ATJ Board had a demonstration of the interactive forms project at their last meeting. Further, he said the pilot will begin in Chelan and King Counties later this month.
Judge Small continued with an explanation of GR 22 and 23. GR 22 defines the practice of law, while GR 23 establishes the Practice of Law Board. The purpose of the Board would be to monitor issues relating to the unlicensed or unauthorized practice of law.
Judge Small advised the Board that his second term on the Access to Justice Board will expire the end of May. He suggested that BJA begin thinking about an appointment to replace him.
Court Standards Resolution
Chief Justice Guy briefly reviewed the purpose of the proposed resolution.
It was moved by Judge Roewe and seconded by Judge Hogan to adopt the Court Standards Resolution as drafted.
As a result of the discussion the following amendments were made:
1) The term "devastating" to describe the impact on the court system was overstating the consequences. The Board agreed to change "devastating" to "detrimental."
2) Include "provide equal and quality justice" in the resolution.
3) Change AOC "propose standards" to "develop standards."
4) Add (funding, facilities and staff) to the last point in the resolution.
It was moved, seconded and passed to accept the amendments to the Court Standards Resolution. The resolution as amended passed unanimously.
REPORTS AND INFORMATION
Best Practices Committee
Judge Hogan reported the first meeting has been set for January 29, the membership has been finalized and the meeting agenda is in the development stage.
Judge Baker stated the Committee had met on Thursday, December 14 to review proposed legislation. Four items of particular interest are those opposed by the Bar Association:
1) portability proposal;
2) allowing $300 for attorney fees in small claims cases;
3) mandatory arbitration in district courts; and
4) small claims appeals de novo.
A meeting has been set with representatives from the Bar Association to discuss the portability issue.
The Board was advised that Benton/Franklin Counties Superior Court has advised AOC if they will be seeking a new judgeship during the 2001 session. The Board was informed that six judicial districts, one of which is Benton/Franklin, have taken the position through their county commissioners not to pay their one-half of superior court judges' benefits. As a result, AOC has been absorbing those additional costs which they are not legally obligated to pay, thus the rest of the system is "footing" the bill for those districts.
The Legislative Committee recommended until the benefits issue is resolved the request for additional superior court judicial positions not be supported by the BJA and the BJA oppose any requests for new judges from those six judicial districts. Further, they recommended AOC should be directed to cease payment of one-half of the benefits for those six districts. In addition, AOC should be directed to initiate a lawsuit.
The Board discussed whether it is appropriate for the Board to deny support for new judicial positions based upon actions of county commissioners. They also discussed contact with the attorney general's office regarding a declaratory judgment action.
Judge Murphy suggested a resolution supporting Benton/Franklin's request for a sixth judicial position based upon full funding by the local legislative authority.
It was moved and seconded to correspond with Benton/Franklin Counties advising them that it was the recommendation of the Legislative Committee to deny support for their request for an additional judge until past due and future payments are made. The motion failed with a vote of 0 in favor and 12 opposed.
It was moved and seconded to correspond with Benton/Franklin Counties using the language from their letter of request-"pursue legislation creating a sixth position in our district contingent upon funding by the local legislative authorities." The motion passed with a vote of 11 in favor and 1 opposed.
OAC staff was requested to correspond with the county commissioners in the six districts delinquent with payment of the superior court judges' benefits.
It was moved and seconded to seek additional advice from the attorney general's office if the six delinquent counties have not responded prior to the January 12 Board meeting. The motion passed with 10 in favor and 2 opposed.
Judge Baker reported the Legislative Committee supported the legislation proposed by the DMCJA with the exception of proposed RCW 10.14.100 - anti-harassment. The Committee requested additional work from the DMCJA that would include in the notice (in bold letters) the consequences of failing to appear.
It was moved by Judge Baker and seconded by Judge Murphy that with the exception of RCW 10.14.100 to approve and support the DMCJA proposed legislation. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Blair reported the WSBA Board of Governors took a position to oppose Project 2001's recommendation 10 - portability. Recommendation 10 was also opposed by the Bar's Court Improvement and Rules Committee, along with the Trial Lawyers.
Mr. Blair continued, the BOG had taken three votes on portability of judges:
1) they went on record opposing recommendation 10 (passed with 5/4 vote);
2) together with BJA representatives, come up with an acceptable approach (passed); and
3) ask BJA to defer taking any action on recommendation 10 (failed).
Other recommendations opposed by the Bar are:
1) allowing $300 for attorney fees in small claims cases;
2) allowing mandatory arbitration in district courts; and
3) eliminating small claims de novo appeals.
Mr. Blair stated the coordination councils are the actual cornerstone to the Project 2001 recommendations.
Judge Murphy suggested a compromise position may be to give the pro tem issue to the BJA's long-range planning committee. Judge Baker responded nothing should be done until the meeting with the Bar has taken place on December 20.
Ms. Michels reported Celebration 2000 was able to cover all expenses. A study group would explore the possibility of hold a joint conference every three-five years.
Ms. Michels stated, Senator Kline would be proposing a bill calling for a study of the death penalty.
Mr. Blair reported the BOG had added a minority seat.
Public Trust Committee
Mr. Blair reported the Committee had met to discuss the recommendations of the Project 2001 Committee.
Long Range Planning
Judge Murphy said, Bob Sailer (check spelling) would attend a half-day session to finalize issues discussed during the summer meeting.
The first meeting of the LRP Committee will be the afternoon of February 16, immediately following BJA.
Mr. Coplen reported the meeting assessments would be reported to the full committee.
Justice Madsen reported she had met with Senator Kline, who indicated interest in a minimum qualifications requirement bill for judges. Justice Madsen offered to put together the proposed legislation and report back to the BJA.
It was moved and seconded to draft legislation setting minimum qualifications requirements for judges. The motion passed unanimously.
Draft legislation will be reviewed by Mr. Moore and the legislative committee prior to the next BJA meeting.
Chief Justice Guy recognized the many contributions of Mr. Wayne Blair during his five-year tenure on the BJA.
Judge Murphy recognized Chief Justice Guy for his vision and leadership during his tenure as co-chair of the BJA.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.