Board for Judicial Administration
Members present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair, Judge Deborah Fleck, member-chair, Judge William Baker, Judge Stephen Brown, Judge Leonard Costello, Judge Sara Derr, Judge Stephen Holman, Judge Eileen Kato, Justice Barbara Madsen, Ms. Mary McQueen, Judge Robert McSeveney, Judge Kathleen M. O’Connor and Mr. David Savage
Guests present: Justice Mary Fairhurst, Ms. Jan Michels, Mr. Paul Sherfey and Judge Gregory Tripp
Staff present: Mr. Gil Austin, Ms. Jude Cryderman, Ms. Wendy Ferrell, Mr. Doug Haake, Mr. Jeff Hall and Ms. Yvonne Pettus
Call to Order
Chief Justice Alexander called the meeting to order.
Mr. Savage asked that the minutes of the January 16, 2004 reflect his attendance. Judge Brown pointed out that Chief Justice Alexander did not attend Cary Runge’s swearing in and asked that the minutes be corrected.
The minutes of the January 16 meeting were approved as corrected.
Public Trust and Confidence Committee
Justice Fairhurst questioned whether the BJA bylaws applied to the membership of the Public Trust and Confidence Committee. Justice Fairhurst pointed out the PTCC was formed in 1999, prior to adoption of the bylaws providing that representation shall reflect all court levels. Justice Fairhurst asked if the bylaws could be amended to allow for longer terms for some of the members with expertise in a specialized field. If so, can the PTCC begin now with staggered terms?
Judge O’Connor said she had no objection to staggered terms. She did however voice concern about the lack of representation from Eastern Washington. Judge Baker pointed out that no one from the Court of Appeals is serving on the PTCC.
Justice Madsen voiced concern over the size of the Committee. She indicated opposition to adding more members.
Justice Fairhurst said she will contact those members who do not regularly attend the meeting to determine if they desire to continue on the Committee.
Ms. McQueen said the members should be appointed by virtue of their position. She suggested taking a look at membership by category, i.e., law librarian, WSBA executive director, etc.
Justice Fairhurst said she would meet with the PTC committee and come back with suggested committee membership and terms.
It was moved by Judge Baker and seconded by Judge Kato that the Public Trust and Confidence Committee develop a plan for membership and members’ terms and bring it back to the BJA for approval. Motion carried.
Justice Fairhurst provided a brief overview of the 2004 PTCC projects. Those projects include:
Justice Fairhurst advised that Juror Appreciation week is May 3-7, 2004. As in the past, a letter will be sent from Chief Justice Alexander and Judge Fleck to the presiding judges, county clerks, and court administrators, along with a packet of information and a recommendation that letters, guest editorials or articles be submitted to the local newspapers. Justice Fairhurst asked that BJA approve the distribution of the juror packets under Chief Justice Alexander's and Judge Fleck’s signatures.
It was moved by Justice Madsen and seconded by Judge Holman to authorize Chief Justice Alexander and Judge Fleck to distribute the juror packets. Motion carried.
Justice Fairhurst next turned attention to the proclamation honoring law week. Justice Fairhurst requested the BJA encourage the Supreme Court to sign the order honoring law week.
It was moved by Justice Madsen and seconded by Judge Baker that the BJA encourage the Supreme Court to sign the order honoring law week. The motion carried.
Court Independence Response Team (CIRT)
Judge McSeveney provided background regarding the development of the model judicial services contract. He pointed out it is very common for part-time municipal court judges to be given a contract for their services. He continued that periodically issues of who controls the judge and staff develop between the judge and the cities.
Ms. McQueen voiced concern over CIRT’s recognition of a conflict between GR 29 and RCW 35A.13.080, RCW 35A.12.100.
The Board briefly discussed the charge and membership of CIRT.
Judge Holman stated his concerns about judges serving by contract. He indicated this model contract is headed in the wrong direction. He stated not all part-time judges sign contracts. He continued he does not have a contract with his city; instead his position and salary are set by ordinance.
The Board discussed recommending to CIRT that the model judicial services contact is an inappropriate instrument for establishing part-time judges’ duties, responsibilities, salary, etc. and that it may be better accomplished by ordinance. Further discussion followed.
The Board agreed to table CIRT’s model judicial contract until the April meeting. Staff was requested to provide the CIRT bylaws and preamble prior to that meeting.
Chief Justice Alexander said he likes the fire brigade mission of the Committee. He continued the committee charge should be reviewed and the purpose could be restructured, if necessary.
The Board agreed that Judge Frazier, chair of CIRT should be invited to attend the April BJA meeting. It was also suggested that a non-judicial member of CIRT be invited to attend.
Judge Kato indicated she would put CIRT on the agenda for the next DMCJA Board meeting.
Access to Justice Report
Judge Tripp reported he met with Senator McCaslin regarding the filing fee bill. He said they are not confident about the bill’s prospects.
Judge Tripp advised of the decision by Columbia Legal Services to restructure, which will result in the closing of Tacoma, Everett, and Spokane offices. He indicated some of the lawyers will have positions with the Northwest Justice Project.
Judge O’Connor said the Equal Justice Coalition changed directions twice regarding the strategy for legal services funding and the filing fee bill. First, the focus was getting an appropriation in the House budget and dealing with the funding as a line item. The second focus was to get the appropriation in the budget without being tied to the filing fee bill. A letter was sent on behalf of the SCJA to leadership in support of the filing fee bill. In addition, WSAC is also sending a letter to leadership in support of the filing fee bill.
Best Practices Committee
A written report was submitted.
Presiding Judges Conference
Ms. McQueen reported the presiding judges’ conference is scheduled for February 29-March 2 in Kelso. She advised this is the largest registration ever.
Family Law Handbook
Ms. McQueen reminded the members that the Legislature passed a bill two years ago directing AOC to develop a Family Law Handbook. The Handbook will be distributed to auditors so they can distribute to parties requesting a marriage license. Ms. McQueen and Ms. McLane met with Senator Hargrove to review the initial draft. Ms. McQueen reported that the Senator was not pleased with the chapter dealing with the effect of divorce on children. They are currently working with Senator Hargrove to make revisions to that chapter.
Justice Madsen stated she would like to review the chapter dealing with domestic violence.
Mr. Hall provided a written status report of the bills reviewed by BJA. He said that Senator McCaslin has not scheduled any of the House bills that have made it to the Senate. He advised that the confidential court records bill has a hearing this afternoon.
Washington State Bar Association
Mr. Savage reported the Bar has increased staffing to assist with this year’s law week.
Mr. Savage advised that the Bar’s February meeting is next Thursday and Friday. The theme is celebrating diversity. So far they have received over 50 RSVPs and are looking forward to a large turn out. A reception will follow at the Westin Hotel.
Mr. Savage advised that elections for Bar Board of Governors’ positions will be held in April. The election for president-elect takes place in June.
Mr. Savage reported that the Bar conducted the first ever survey relative to the Bar News. Responses indicate over 60 percent of members want to preserve the hard copy. Those surveyed indicated that the Bar News is good publication. Members indicated they would like to know more about courts and judges.
Mr. Savage said Governor Locke asked the Bar to gear up the judicial recommendations committee for the Division II position. They will conduct a special meeting in mid-March to pass findings on to the Governor.
Judge O’Connor said the Board had a water courts presentation by the Attorney General’s office. She said the SCJA will continue to work on the water court issue in the interim.
District and Municipal Courts
Court of Appeals
The next meeting is scheduled for March 19 at Two Union Square.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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