BOARD FOR JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION
Members Present: Chief Justice Alexander; co-chair, Judge Deborah Fleck, Judge Vickie Hogan, Judge William Baker, Judge James Riehl, Judge McSeveney, Mary McQueen, Judge Sara Derr, Justice Barbara Madsen, Judge Karen Seinfeld, Dale Carlisle, Jeff Amram, Judge Eileen Kato, Judge Kathleen O’Connor, Judge Susan Agid, Judge Steve Brown, Judge Leonard Costello and Judge Stephen Dwyer
Guests present: Dale Carlisle, Judge Ron Kessler and Scott Smith
Staff present: Janet McLane, Jeff Hall, Doug Haake, Gil Austin
Call to Order
Chief Justice Alexander called the meeting to order.
Chief Justice made presentations to Dale Carlisle and Judge Kessler in recognition of their service to the BJA and thanked both for their participation on BJA. Judge Fleck added her appreciation to Judge Kessler for his time on BJA.
Judge Fleck discussed the meeting with Washington Association of Juvenile Court Administrators indicating the occasion presented an opportunity to discuss juvenile issues with JRA, and others interested in juvenile issues which will likely be followed up by the SCJA.
Justice Madsen related the tour the Supreme Court made to the Suquamish Tribe, in particular their participating with the courts and the work of the Gender and Justice Commission to enact Tribal orders under their Full Faith and Credit efforts, especially in relation to domestic violence. Chief Justice elaborated that the tribal Chief Judge had extended the invitation.
Minutes of the August 15 meeting were approved as distributed. Judge Seinfeld recommended changing the language on page 6 to read “J. Seinfeld advised that the cost of unemployment benefits.”
Joint Meeting with Court Management Council
Judge Fleck indicated the action item is to set a joint meeting with the CMC. Ms. McQueen related that while a November meeting is set, the Court Funding Task Force would like to use the November BJA meeting time for a full presentation, which would require postponing the joint meeting until January. Judge O’Connor remarked that the SCJA Legislative meetings are held Friday afternoons and would like to avoid a conflict with that event. Ms. McQueen offered that Representative Lantz is expecting a presentation during the first full week of December on the Court Funding Task Force. Ms. McQueen felt that it is desirable to have the CFTF make a presentation to the BJA before the presentation to Representative Lantz’s committee. Ms. McQueen suggested staff find a time for the joint meeting.
Best Practices Committee
Judge Sperline was not able to make the meeting .
Mr. Hall reported that the committee will recommend a process for establishing performance audits by the November meeting. The Chief Justice asked if the survey on collections has been distributed. Mr. Hall responded that it had been.
Court Funding Task Force
Mr. Hall reported that the information gathering phase has been nearly completed. The Problem Definition Work Group has reached the tentative conclusion as to what to include as court costs. These costs do not include indigent defense costs, civil indigent defense or court facilities. The 2000 year expenditures has nearly been completed and the revised figure is an annual figure of about $341. Near completion is the SIMGAP model which enables the WG to estimate the gap in current expenditures and the amount needed for necessary cost of services. The Funding Alternatives WG looked at how other states funds courts and found there was no common thread. This WG will reach a decision on User Fees.
Ms. McLane reported that the Courts of Limited Jurisdiction WG spent the predominate amount of time to date hearing from a variety of organizations and court user groups to obtain their perspective on how well CLJs function. The WG has started to make progress on basic concepts and principles for CLJ courts – such as the purpose of courts. A Title 3 drafting group has begun preparing legislation to match the principles. It is likely there will remain in place similar organizational options, but may contain some recommendations to elect judges; to expand their jurisdiction. The CLJ WG has wrestled with developing realistic recommendations, given the protective approach the municipal courts have taken concerning their courts. It is expected that the WG will have a proposals to report by the November BJA meeting. Justice Madsen asked if this committee has discussed certification of trial courts and whether there will be a recommendation of court rules. Ms. McLane replied that the WG would probably not ask for a court rule to certify municipal courts.
Judge Fleck mentioned that King County has reached a tentative agreement to continue the municipal court agreement until 2006. Judge Dwyer projected that this might fashion a strategic recommendation as a result of the King County agreement.
Ms. McQueen point out that there has been discussion of what the structure of CLJs should be – such as judges functioning as circuit judges serving in a variety of court locations. Judge Dwyer pointed out there are overlapping dynamics, as an example the subject matter jurisdiction question and the handling of civil cases in a court funding context it was a discussion on the practicalities of municipal courts hearing these cases which are expensive to fund and the disproportionate costs and the fees for handling civil cases. Ms. McQueen related there were major independence issues – such as the city manager demanding reports that the municipal court could not provide. Ms. McQueen reported that in many cities up to 70% of traffic tickets are filed by WSP, thus the state could have a responsibility to the city, but what would be a reasonable sharing of the cost of court operations. Ms. McQueen projected that there may be stages of state involvement in municipal courts. J. Fleck related that the municipal court attorneys are already gathering information that would support their current systems. Judge Fleck advised Judge Corinna Harn should be recognized for her work on negotiating an extension of the municipal court agreement in King County.
Chief Justice asked there is a belief that municipal courts existence is other than the administration of justice. CJ pointed out that the Justice of the Peace system was eliminated as the perception was that the Justices of the Peace were in place to fund their operation. Another example was the situation in Seattle Municipal when discipline of court commissioners was done by the city ethics board as opposed to the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Ms. McQueen pointed out that courts are themselves involved with raising revenues. Judge Riehl asked how to explain to the public that the seat belt law is not a court funding interest. General discussion about how the courts have an interest in an expanded use of the PSEA.
Judge Hogan related how the county executive and legislative branches ask
Judge Baker reported on the Legislative Committee and what the functions and members of the committee - the two co chairs serve, the chairs of the trial courts Legislative Committee, Judge Baker, a representative of the Bar and members of BJA from each court level.
The purpose of the committee is to report recommendations to the BJA before the legislative session. Following the start of session the BJA Executive Committee undertakes the review of bills and develops recommendations on behalf of the BJA.
Judge Baker reported the first meeting was last Friday so members could attend hearings in Olympia during the Legislative Week. Judge Baker said there seemed to be some degree of softening; that the Senate Law & Justice Chair was much more in a reconciling view. The Board was advised that Judge Alsdorf spoke about the separation of powers and many members of the committee asked questions that were not hostile. The Committee Chair said judges were always welcome to attend the committee meetings.
Another speaker was Bernie Friedman from DSHS who spoke from the perspective of a legal scholar and informed the committee that in his view the judiciary had departed from any reasoned view of separation of powers and decried the Mabury v. Madison decision and that options for dealing with the judiciary were limited, that budgetary constraints and threats of impeachment might be effective. Not all members were effusive in their reception and focused on the Supreme Court decision on the cap of damages in tort reform act; the removal of doctors by a higher standard level; and the case from Whatcom County dealing with foster children. Judge Fleck mentioned that Mr. Friedman suggested making all courts limited jurisdiction courts so that the legislature could describe the jurisdictional activities of the courts.
Judge Baker said the Committee reviewed legislation remaining from last session and suggested how to propose these bills next year. They agreed that the bill changing the name of the AOC would be worth raising. Next month there will be another meeting after the trial courts have a chance to review their agenda.
Members – Judge Baker, Judge Churchill, Judge McSeveney, Judge Costello, Judge Mike Padden, WSBA BJA representative.
Reports from Courts
Court of Appeals
Judge Seinfeld reported the Court of Appeals meeting during the conference will focus largely on budget issues. Judge Brown had no new information. Judge Baker reported that Division I had no new information to report.
Judge O’Connor reported that they met with Washington Association of Juvenile Court Administrators to discuss making the BECCA funding a structural part of the budget to provide certainly of funding. Judge O’Connor advised that this funding is currently a part of the AOC budget.
District and Municipal Courts
Judge Dwyer summarized the presentations that were being given regionally on any changes in DUI legislation from the last legislative session. He advised the sessions were well received. The DMCJA Education Committee organized these sessions with funding from the Washington State Traffic Commission.
Chief Justice Alexander reported he had been approached by Collin Sprague, chair of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, asking if the Supreme Court is considering any rule changes given the Minnesota decision. The Supreme Court reviewed the need for Judicial Code changes and the Chief Justice is going to ask the other courts if there is an interest on part of the trial courts to make any changes.
Access to Justice Board
Mr. Smith said Seattle will be host of a national conference on access to justice in November. The legal needs study should be out soon as to the unmet civil legal needs. The ATJ Board met Friday and will be adopting a “brand” identification as the Equal Justice Alliance in an effort to get all participants to use common language to help get the public to understand their efforts.
Mr. Smith advised of a report from two legal representatives who had a negative view due to declining IOLOTA revenues and the failure of the civil filing fee to increase. The plan to deliver civil legal services will be revised again, in consultation with many more organizations than has been the case in the past on the plan.
Mr. Carlisle mentioned the change in officers in September. At the Awards Dinner Judge Dwyer received an award for Judge of the Year; the new President is Dave Savage and Ron Ward is the President-Elect; Lindsay Thompson was confirmed as Editor of the Bar News; 2 more ABA delegates were selected, Paula Boggs & Sonya Rodriguez; Awards Dinner swore in the Young Lawyers Division President J.D. Smith.
Mr. Carlisle advised that the Bar’s Legislative Committee has already started and Gail Stone will work closely with the BJA legislative representatives.
Mr. Carlisle reported that Jan Michels has hired a deputy, Paula Littlewood, who has recently returned to Washington from Colorado.
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