Board for Judicial Administration
Members present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair, Judge Deborah Fleck, member-chair, Judge William Baker, Judge Stephen Brown, Judge Vickie Churchill, Judge Stephen Holman, Judge Eileen Kato, Mr. Dick Manning, Ms. Mary McQueen, Judge Robert McSeveney, Judge Kathleen O’Connor, Judge James M. Riehl, Judge Karen Seinfeld, and Judge Evan Sperline
Guests present: Betty Gould, Senator Adam Kline, Judge Linda Krese, Commissioner Sidney Ottem and Paul Sherfey
Staff present: Mr. Gil Austin, Ms. Jude Cryderman, Mr. Doug Haake, Mr. Jeff Hall, Ms. Janet McLane, Mr. Rick Neidhardt and Ms. Yvonne Pettus
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chief Justice Alexander. Chief Justice Alexander introduced the guests.
It was moved by Judge Baker and seconded by Judge Kato to approve the minutes of the February 20, 2004 meeting as published. The motion carried.
Mr. Rick Neidhardt reported the Water Disputes Task Force issued their final report in December 2003. Within several weeks of the report’s distribution, legislation was drafted by the Governor’s office setting up the water courts. In response, BJA requested time to consider the Task Force final report and develop a response to the legislative proposals.
Judge Krese stated the Task Force members did not anticipate immediate legislation, thinking they would have a year to develop proposed legislation. The Task Force met monthly for 18 months prior to the release of the final report. The Task Force was diverse with representatives from the judiciary, legislature, ecology, pollution boards, etc.
Commissioner Ottem urged BJA to put energy into the water courts issue. He said this is a vital state problem. Currently working on water disputes issues are one full-time court commissioner, a half-time judge, two law clerks, and one referee. Commissioner Ottem described the process currently in place for water disputes. He advised there are approximately 25-40 lawyers with experience in water disputes. Of those, 15 lawyers are very knowledgeable in the water disputes area.
Mr. Neidhardt reported the Governor’s water court proposal has a fiscal impact of approximately $3-5 million per year for hearings and housing of judges and staff. The proposal recommended that four water courts be established.
Judge Sperline asked about the affidavit process. Commissioner Ottem responded although that process has not been established, that issue does need to be addressed.
Senator Kline said he would like the legislature to put as much effort into the water disputes issues as did the Task Force in their final report. He continued the structural changes need more thought. He added the judiciary’s point of view is vital.
The Board discussed the purpose and composition of an ad hoc committee. Judge Krese and Commissioner Ottem agreed to co-chair the ad hoc committee which will consist of 6-8 members. Judge Brown agreed to represent the Court of Appeals on the committee. Other members from the SCJA will be solicited by the Board’s co-chairs. The BJA co-chairs will make the committee appointments. The purpose of the ad hoc committee will be to develop judicial recommendations for resolving the issues raised during legislative session. The Board requested the Committee be prepared to report back at the July meeting.
The Board agreed a report at the general business meeting during fall conference is appropriate.
Judicial Assistance Services Brochure
Judge Kato referred to her March 16 letter to Chief Justice Alexander and Judge Fleck requesting that the BJA contribute $250 towards the development and publication of the Judicial Assistance Services brochure. Judge Kato advised that the same request had been made of the SCJA.
Judge Kato reported it was the conclusion of the Judicial Assistance Committee that the Lawyers Assistance Program has the experience, expertise and confidentiality to provide effective intervention for the judiciary.
It was moved by Judge Riehl and seconded by Judge Fleck to authorize BJA to contribute $250 for the development and publication of the Judicial Assistance brochure. The motion carried.
Ms. McQueen noted that the brochure could also be added to the extranet.
Pro Tem Judge Compensation
Judge O’Connor referred to her March 3 letter to the co-chairs outlining Judge Penoyar’s dilemma with the part-time district and municipal court judges in Pacific County being ineligible for compensation if they are appointed as pro tem judges. The Board briefly discussed this issue.
Following discussion, Chief Justice Alexander assigned this issue to the legislative committee to develop a recommendation.
County Clerks’ Request
Ms. Gould, president of the Washington State Association of County Clerks (WSACC), discussed the WSACC proposal for their executive board to meet with the BJA. Brief discussion followed.
It was moved by Judge Riehl and seconded by Judge Holman to establish one meeting annually between the Board and the WSACC Executive Board.
Discussion followed regarding the need to have a separate meeting with the Executive Board of WSACC.
The motion passed with a vote of 9 in favor and 3 opposed.
Court Funding Task Force
Mr. Hall reported three meetings, April 4, May 4 and June 15, of the Task Force had been set. He advised that the Task Force recommendations will be finalized and forwarded to BJA in July.
Mr. Hall said the work groups have set meetings and are in the process of wrapping up their work.
Judge O’Connor indicated that Mr. Blair’s report at the SCJA long-range planning retreat was quite helpful. Judge O’Connor continued, Mr. Blair will attend the SCJA Spring Conference the end of April to update the entire association on the Task Force’s work. She expects a lot of feedback from the judges.
Mr. Hall advised that staffing ratios are being addressed and will come to BJA next month. In addition, either an ad hoc work group of the BJA or Best Practices Committee will need to figure out how to develop a statewide expenditures report. He advised he is meeting with the State Auditor’s office to request they separate out the indigent defense costs.
Judge Fleck indicated a more detailed report will be given at the April BJA meeting. She said the most important message is that the judges around the table must be willing to take a leadership position.
Presiding Judges Conference
Ms. McLane directed attention to the one page summary of the Presiding Judges’ Conference. She reported that 111 judges, the largest attendance ever, attended this year’s conference.
Judge Seinfeld requested that the Court of Appeals’ Presiding Chief Judge and Chief Judge of each division be invited to the next PJ Conference.
Long Range Planning Committee
Mr. Hall reviewed the report of the Long Range Planning Committee. He briefly reviewed the six major issues that BJA is charged with addressing. Mr. Hall stated specific strategies will be developed for each goal.
The Board was advised that the Public Trust and Confidence Committee would assist in the development of goals and commentary for issue IV. Best Practices will also assist with the development of the goals.
The proposals will be brought to BJA’s April meeting for consideration.
Family Law Handbook
Ms. McQueen reported after reworking some of the handbook’s language, another draft was sent to Senator Hargrove for his review.
Mr. Hall reported that only one of the BJA sponsored bills had passed this session. Mr. Hall provided an overview of this year’s legislation.
Chief Justice Alexander suggested a letter regarding the district court judge election bill be written to Senator McCaslin. Staff will draft a letter for Chief Justice Alexander's and Judge Fleck’s signature.
Reports from the Courts
Court of Appeals
Judge Brown advised BJA of the passing of Judge Ray Munson. He also advised that Judge Kato will become Chief Judge of Division III following Spring Conference. Judge Kato will replace Judge Brown on BJA.
Judge Seinfeld reported that Division II’s caseload is caught up. Division II’s new Chief Judge will be Judge Quinn-Brintnall. Judge Houghton will be the Chief Presiding Judge following Spring Conference. BJA members were invited to Judge Seinfeld’s “stepping-down” party the end of April.
Judge Seinfeld reported that Judge Bridgewater had open-heart surgery last week in Oregon. He is recovering and should return to the bench in May. She thanked Division I for their assistance during Judge Bridgewater’s absence.
Judge O’Connor reported the SCJA officers and board members change in April. She advised that Judge Costello will appoint an ad hoc committee to advise the new officers on Court Funding Task Force issues.
Judge O’Connor said the Association may have legislative proposals next year relating to the operation of drug courts at the superior court level and resolutions for those who fail to successfully complete drug court. Any drafts will be distributed to the drug court judges for their review.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
Judge Kato reported that Judge Lee Creighton, Olympia Municipal Court, was able to attend their last Board meeting. Judge Creighton had undergone brain surgery around the holidays.
Judge Kato reported that of the 244 DMCJA members, only 112 have paid their special assessments. She advised that for this year’s spring conference, the DMCJA is considering a member and non-member registration fee. Judge Kato asked for BJA support in that those members not in good standing are not eligible to participate on commissions, task forces, committees, etc.
Washington State Bar Association
Mr. Manning reported that the BOG has included active military active service as a claim for MCLE waivers.
Mr. Manning advised that Richard Roberts and Sarah Spierling Mack were nominated to the Supreme Court’s Bench-Bar-Press Committee.
Mr. Manning reported that Rhonda J. Brown, Tacoma attorney, received the WSBA’s Local Hero Award. The award was presented to Ms. Brown during the recent diversity forum.
Mr. Manning said that legal services had received $1.9 million from the general fund.
The nomination form for the Bar’s 2004 awards can be found on their website.
Judge Sperline reported on problems encountered by Grant County because the county contracted with a single lawyer to provide indigent defense. The lawyer was supposed to contract with other lawyers; however, he had been assigning the majority of the cases to himself. The lawyer was suspended by the Bar in early February. This forced the County to suspend the contract. Grant County is working with their local Bar Association to develop a list of eligible lawyers to provide indigent defense.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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