Board for Judicial Administration
Members present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, chair; Judge James M. Riehl, Co-chair; Mr. Dale Carlisle; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Stephen Dwyer; Judge Deborah Fleck; Judge Stephen Holman; Judge Ron Kessler; Justice Barbara Madsen; Judge Dirk Marler; Ms. Mary McQueen; Judge Robert McSeveney; Judge Kathleen O’Connor; Mr. Dave Savage; and Judge Evan Sperline
Guests present: Judge Marlin Appelwick; Mr. Jim Bamberger via phone; Mr. Wayne Blair; Professor David Boerner; Justice Tom Chambers; Ms. Barbara Clark; Ms. Betty Gould; Ms. Erin Hyppa; Ms. Rena Hollis; Justice Charles W. Johnson; Mr. Patrick McIntyre; Ms. Jan Michels; Ms. Michele Radosevich; Judge Michael Spearman; Judge Gregory Tripp and Ms. Siri Woods
Staff present: Mr. Gil Austin; Mr. Rick Coplen; Ms. Jude Cryderman; Mr. Doug Haake; Mr. Jeff Hall; Ms. Janet McLane; Mr. Rick Neidhardt; Ms. Yvonne Pettus; and Mr. Ramsey Radwan
Call to Order
Chief Justice Alexander asked that the guests introduce themselves.
It was moved by Judge Kessler and seconded by Judge Marler to approve the minutes of the September 29, 2002 meeting as published. The motion carried.
Justice Johnson briefly update the Board on the workings of the Civil Equal Justice Task Force. He advised the Task Force was created by the Supreme Court to study the funding crisis in the civil equal justice field. He continued, a proposal was made at the last meeting in an effort to increase the level of funding for civil legal needs. Justice Johnson introduced Justice Tom Chambers, chair of the Funding Subcommittee.
Justice Chambers provided a brief update on the Task Force. He advised, that the Funding Subcommittee’s proposal was to increase the superior court filing fee. He continued, the focus of the Subcommittee is to seek and secure uniform, reliable funding for access to justice.
Justice Chambers stated the Task Force had divided into three subcommittees:
Justice Chambers reported that the Work Group concluded that $10-$20 million year is needed to provide the necessary legal services.
He continued, 75 percent of the funds must come from dedicated, permanent, reliable and dependable sources, while the other 25 percent would collectively come from other sources. Justice Chambers advised that it would take $3.5 million to bring legal services back to the 1999 funding levels.
Justice Chambers advised the BJA that the Funding Subcommittee had concluded the only viable option is increasing the filing fee for superior courts, while maintaining the current split. The current $110 fee would be increased by $90 to $200. He continued, the Subcommittee agreed not to pursue an increase to the district court civil filing fee because it was felt an increase to district court fees would meet with an organized opposition.
Justice Chambers reported according to a survey of other states’ filing fees, 16 states have a filing fee of $200 or greater. Washington has not increased the filing fee since 1992.
It was moved by Justice Madsen and seconded by Judge Fleck to approve the proposed resolution.
Ms. Hollis indicated the clerks would like to see a larger share of the filing fee increase stay at the county level. Ms. Hollis suggested that an increase to the district court filing fee be included in the proposal to provide additional revenue to the counties’ general fund. Ms. Hollis advised that the District and Municipal Court Management Association discussed the district court fee increase yesterday, but referred it to their legislative committee for consideration.
Ms. Barbara Clark, director of the Legal Foundation of Washington provided a brief overview of the impact the loss of funding has had on that organization. Specifically, the loss of 17-20 positions since 1999. Ms. Clark advised that further cuts would be necessary if additional funding is not secured.
Ms. Michele Radosevich of the Equal Justice Coalition advised that from a political standpoint now is the time to make the fee increase proposal. She continued we have the legislature’s attention and they are aware that a remedy is going to be proposed. She indicated the need to work with the clerks to find a solution that will satisfactorily meet both needs.
Mr. Blair advised the Board that the Court Funding Task Force’s efforts need to be kept separate from the Civil Equal Justice efforts. Those efforts will not be combined, but increased coordination is necessary.
Justice Madsen said the Board needs to know what the clerks want.
Justice Madsen amended motion to include an increase of filing fee in district courts to $50.00. The amendment was seconded.
Judge Derr inquired as to the benefit to the clerks. Ms. Hollis responded the counties’ share would be deposited in the counties’ general fund. Judge Derr stated the two issues should be in separate bills.
Justice Chambers urged the Board to vote against the proposed amendment. He stated the increases are two separate proposals and should be treated as two separate issues.
Judge Fleck shared the concerns of the Superior Court Judges Association:
Judge Tripp stated he shared Justice Chamber's views regarding the separation of the two fee increases. He said although he recognizes the needs of the clerks’ offices, he supports the $90 increase as a separate item.
Judge Appelwick indicated the need for a filing fee is far beyond the proposed filing fee increase. He expressed concern about packaging the two proposals, indicating the package would be likely to fail.
Mr. Bamberger reiterated that $3.5 million is necessary to restore the funding to the 1999 level. He stated the $90 increase would be kept to the current split of 54% to counties and 46% to the Civil Equal Justice Account.
Time for Trial Task Force
Professor Boerner stated the Task Force was prepared to make their presentation to the Board. Justice Madsen indicated this was not a presentation that could be completed in 15 minutes. Chief Justice Alexander requested that the Task Force members return to the December meeting to make their presentation.
Filing Fee (continued)
Judge Kessler expressed that there has not been enough time to consider the proposals. He also indicated there is a crisis in capital defense also.
Ms. Woods informed the Board that the fee increase was a WACO and WSAC bill, not a clerk's bill. She added the counties are looking for additional revenue.
It was moved by Judge Sperline to offer a friendly amendment to segregate the pending motion into two motions. One for the Civil Equal Justice increase and the other to support the clerks in the district court increase. The friendly motion was accepted by Justice Madsen and Judge Fleck.
Judge Riehl agreed there is an absolute crisis. He continued, it is important that the judiciary take a leadership role on this issue. He indicated he is a proponent of the increase.
Judge Kessler moved to table the proposed increase issue until the December meeting. The motion died for lack of a second.
The vote to increase the superior court filing fee by $90 (to $200) passed unanimously.
The vote to increase the district court filing fee to up to $50 passed (vote was five in favor and three opposed).
At this time Justices Alexander and Madsen left the meeting to attend Bench/Bar/Press Meeting and that there was no longer a quorum with all jurisdictional levels present.
Ms. McLane provided a brief overview of the materials that were provided to the Salary Commission. Ms. McLane advised only two members of the previous Commission are returning.
Judge Fleck reported the SCJA agreed only seek a COLA, due to the budget crisis. Judge Marler report the DMCJA had agreed to a COLA, only. Ms. Pettus reported on behalf of the Court of Appeals, that they, too would seek a COLA.
AOC will provide additional information regarding COLAs at the next meeting.
Judge O’Connor reviewed the proposed legislative topics for the 2003 session. The consensus was to conduct a “straw-poll” and advise Executive Committee of the recommended positions for them to take a formal position. The following recommendations were made:
Defects and Omissions
Ms. McQueen reported the letters have recently been sent.
Municipal Court Services
Judge McSeveney provided a brief overview of his memorandum on the interlocal agreements for municipal court services. He indicated the primary problems are separation of powers and independence of the judiciary. He continued, 20 plus courts are using interlocal agreements for court services, some in violation of the Court Improvement Act.
Several members voiced strong concerns that there may be courts operating as “de facto” courts under Judge McSeveney’s legal analysis. The Board discussed the most appropriate vehicle to look at the issue. Following discussion, there was a consensus that AOC staff would further investigate and provide recommended actions at the December meeting.
There was a suggestion that consolidation of District and Municipal Courts was one solution that would address both the current issues raised by Judge McSeveney’s memorandum as well as the continuing separation and independence issues. Judge Marler reported that following discussions by the DMCJA Board there was unanimous support to consider all options in addressing the concerns relative to District and Municipal Courts. Discussion ensued as to whether this issue should be referred to the Court Funding Task Force. Judge Marler supported the Court Funding Task Force conducting a comprehensive review of this issue. There was a consensus to forward this issue to the Court Funding Task Force for inclusion with their mission.
Retirement Work Group
Ms. McQueen reported the Work Group met two weeks ago. Mr. Jerry Allard, former state actuary, made recommendations as to different types of benefits available. Mr. Allard will be providing other options to the Work Group in December.
Presiding Judges Conference
Judge Marler reported that BCE is planning for the PJ conference. The BCE is requesting that the BJA approve moving the PJ conference from June to March 2-4, 2003. He continued, the possible sites for the conference are: 1) Yakima; 2) SeaTac; or 3) Lynnwood Embassy Suites.
Ms. McLane explained the Judicial Workload Analysis information provided to the Board. She reported this information has been provided to all presiding judges. Ms. McLane advised that the model was run with a 40 hour work week. Ms. McLane explained the time standards adjustment factor.
Best Practices Committee
Judge Sperline reported the Committee is in the process of revising the mission statement.
Judge Fleck reported the Association is meeting with the Department of Corrections to identify common areas in which to save money while still enforcing judgment and sentence conditions.
Judge Marler reported they are working with King County on judicial needs.
Mr. Savage reported the BOG is working on an amendment to RPC 6.1 that would require lawyers report a minimum of 30 pro bono hours annually. They are also working on a pro hac vice rule which would require a $250 administrative fee to record admission. The BOG supported King County Bar Association’s resolution for making methadone treatment available through the Medicaid program.
Judge Kessler advised he only has six more months on his term with the BJA. He would like to propose the BJA: 1) support six person juries in civil cases – not apply to sexual predator cases and 2) support some form exclusive jurisdiction in certain cases. In addition, Judge Kessler advised that elections are an imperfect way to select judges.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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