BOARD FOR JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION
Members Present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair; Judge Susan Agid; Judge William Baker; Judge Stephen Brown; Mr. Dale Carlisle; Judge Vickie Churchill; Judge Leonard Costello; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Stephen Dwyer; Judge Deborah Fleck, co-chair; Judge Stephen Holman; Judge Eileen Kato; Justice Barbara Madsen; Judge Kathleen O'Connor; Judge James Riehl, Judge Karen Seinfeld; and, Judge Evan Sperline
Guests Present: Ms. Madelyn Botta; Judge Anne Ellington; Judge Robert Harris; Mr. Don Horowitz; Ms. Jan Michels; and, Judge Gregory Tripp
Staff Present: Mr. Gil Austin; Mr. Doug Haake; Mr. Jeff Hall; and, Ms. Yvonne Pettus
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chief Justice Alexander, co-chair.
Chief Justice Alexander recognized the guests present. He welcomed new members: Judge Agid, Presiding Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals; Judge Stephen Brown, Court of Appeals Division III, and Judge Eileen Kato, President-Elect of the District and Municipal Court Judges Association.
Chief Justice Alexander acknowledged the work of Judge Riehl in his capacity as co-chair and presented him with a departing gift.
The minutes of the June 20, 2003 meeting were approved as distributed.
Access to Justice Technology Bill of Rights
Judge Fleck introduced Don Horowitz. He reported on the Access to Justice Board (ATJ) and its establishment by the Supreme Court. The purpose of this presentation was to provide information regarding the Access to Justice Technology Bill of Rights. In the future, ATJ would ask for formal adoption of the principles. These principles will be a tool for decision makers in the court system. He described the new technologies that are coming into use in the courts and may worsen existing barriers further limiting access to justice. Using appropriate technology for citizens could enhance access for the public. ATJ felt there was a need for a set of fundamental principles for use of technology in the courts along with some effectuating activities. The Bill of Rights is now in its 12th draft and has changed considerably over the drafts with contributions from trial court judges and county clerks. Future presentations will be made to the Superior Court Judges Association, District and Municipal Court Judges Association, and County Clerks' Association. After those presentations, the Bill of Rights will be finalized and presented to the BJA for endorsement prior to submission to the Supreme Court for adoption.
Judge Ellington spoke of her role on the Rule drafting committee and the sensitivity the committee had regarding creating unfunded mandates. Judge Ellington sees this as a two-pronged effort. First, this is a means to use technology in a creative way to eliminate barriers. The other prong is to avoid unintended consequences as a result of the effort on the Bill.
Judge Sperline raised the issue of the “Bill of Rights” concept and that this document came across as a governing body’s statement of principles by which it will govern itself as opposed to a user's statement of principles. Mr. Horowitz responded that the ATJ Board has similar concerns and will most likely drop the “Bill of Rights” title in favor of “guidelines” or “principles.”
Proposed Amendment to DJR 14
Judge Dwyer presented the proposed amendment to the proposed rule. He reported that with the amendment to the proposed rule, judicial officers would be able to use the resources of the Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) of the Washington State Bar Association. This would eliminate the need to replicate resources that are not presently available in the Peer Counseling Program. Judge O'Connor related that this proposed amendment has had lengthy discussion and that the SCJA Board supports the proposed amendment.
It was moved by Judge Riehl and seconded by Judge O'Connor to adopt the proposed amendment to the proposed rule and forward it to the Supreme Court. The motion passed unanimously.
Time for Trial Rule
Chief Justice Alexander announced the Supreme Court approved the rules, with two non-substantive grammatical changes, as proposed to the Supreme Court by the BJA. He thanked the Chair of the Task Force, Dave Boerner who worked with a broadly based group.
Best Practices Committee
Judge Sperline reported the Committee is working on a written report describing the results of the Committee's study of collection of monetary penalties in courts of limited jurisdiction. He anticipates a report will be completed before the August meeting. The study involved surveying the courts to see what practices they used in collecting monetary penalties. AOC then analyzed collection information for cases that had monetary penalties ordered in 2000. The findings of this analysis focused on: 1) whether monthly reminders are sent to persons owing money and 2) how many days after an account is delinquent is the case sent to a collection agency. One finding is that courts that do not send monthly reminders have a higher collection rate than those which do. The most significant factor is the time frame in which courts refer cases to collection agencies. The courts that refer cases 30 days after delinquency have a higher collection rate than the courts that refer cases after 60 or 90 days.
The Committee's other project is to formulate standards for auditing court performance. Recommendations for implementing this process will be forthcoming some time in the future.
The Board discussed how to present the information of the report and the most beneficial way of using the information in a best practices mode.
Interim Legislative Meeting Plans
Mr. Hall presented his draft plans and discussed the September and December Legislative Committee days. September will be a time to test ideas with legislators and by December, the BJA legislative agenda should be better formed.
It was moved by Judge Baker and seconded by Judge Churchill to approve the interim legislative plans as presented. The motion passed unanimously.
Court Funding Task Force Report
Mr. Hall reported that the co-chairs met at a retreat to exchange information regarding the progress of their work groups. The retreat added a sense of urgency to the work of the task force. Mr. Hall reported that in addition to the courts of limited jurisdiction issues other reports would be available in December or January.
Salary and Retirement Survey Results
Mr. Hall reported that nearly 40 percent of administrators are eligible to retire within the next 5 years. Other states have commissions that are working on succession planning. Mr. Hall will discuss the results with AOC Employee Services to see how this information can be developed.
Justice Madsen recommended working with the national association about their efforts on developing a program.
Reports from the Courts
Court of Appeals
Judge Agid reported the Court of Appeals is struggling with how to make the staff reductions due to budget cuts – Division I has lost 5 staff attorneys; Division II has lost clerk’s office staff and hopes not to allow a backlog to develop. There is discussion of sharing the caseload between divisions and other creative approaches. Judge Brown reported that Division III has reduced its backlog and that attorneys are now having difficulty responding in time because there are fewer cases and the schedule is so current. Judge Seinfeld indicated Division II has traveled to hear cases in the past to save counties money but may have to discontinue that practice to limit expenses.
Judge O'Connor reported this has been a relatively quiet time. They have been responding to requests for comments on rules and filling vacancies on committees. Work has been done on implementing new legislation, such as 5990 on adult sentencing practices. Implementation of the Time for Trial Rule is causing some concern and Judge Cozza will be asked to draft some guidance along with the DMCJA. The SCJA has also started conversations about the 2004 legislative session.
District and Municipal Courts
Judge Dwyer reported the Board activity has been relatively low. A letter was sent to part time district court judges indicating what their salary should be based on the Salary Commission salary schedule and the judicial needs estimate for their county.
Washington State Bar Association
Mr. Carlisle reported the ABA has awarded Washington another seat in the House of Delegates. He mentioned Jan Michels' article summarizing the Bar’s activities in the July Bar News. Ms. Michels distributed a copy of the report and summarized it. The Bar has a committee reviewing the ABA rules for discipline to determine what changes might be needed in the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Panel on Criminal Defense is active and looking at adult and juvenile defense mechanisms and the restraints on defense spending. The Practice of Law Board has assigned a 0.50 FTE investigator and is looking at many allegations of unlawful practice of law. Ms. Michels reported she has hired a Deputy Executive Director, Paula Littlewood, to handle operations management.
Chief Justice Alexander offered the suggestion for a regular column dealing with the judiciary for the Bar News. Ms. Michels said that the editorial board sets that policy and that Lindsay Thompson should be approached for some sort of regular column.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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