BOARD FOR JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION
Members present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair, Judge Deborah Fleck, member-chair, Judge William Baker, Judge Vickie Churchill, Judge Leonard Costello, Judge Sara Derr, Judge Stephen Holman, Judge Eileen Kato, Judge Ken Kato, Justice Barbara Madsen. Mr. Dick Manning, Judge Robert McSeveney, Judge Kathleen O’Connor, Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall, Judge Karen Seinfeld, and Mr. Ron Ward
Guests present: Judge Chris Culp, Judge David Frazier, Jan Michels, and Andra Motyka
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. Chief Justice Alexander the new BJA members: Judge Elaine Houghton, who was not able to be present this meeting, Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall; and Judge Ken Kato. Chief Justice Alexander introduced the guests.
The Chief Justice mentioned that Judge Seinfeld will retire from Division II at the end of April and this is her last meeting as a BJA member. He presented Judge Seinfeld with a drawing of the Temple of Justice and remarked how much her counsel on the BJA would be missed. Judge Seinfeld said that BJA presented an opportunity to be in touch with issues through contact with other judges and attorneys across the state and complimented Chief Justice Alexander on the effectiveness of the reconstituted BJA. Judge Fleck relayed her appreciation of Judge Seinfeld's advice and counsel while she has served on the BJA.
It was moved by Judge Seinfeld and seconded by Judge Churchill to approve the minute of the March 19, 2004 meeting as published. The motion carried.
Court Independence Response Team (CIRT) Report
Judge Fleck mentioned this topic was discussed at the February meeting and Judge Frazier as Chair was asked to present his report. Judge Frazier reported there have been six meetings of CIRT and read the bylaws of the organization concerning the purposes of CIRT. The membership of CIRT was increased shortly after being formed. He stated that he does not view CIRT as a policy-making body but as a means of mediating issues between local courts and local executive or legislative bodies.
Judge Frazier indicated that CIRT was given two tasks. The first task is that of mediating issues between local courts and local executive or legislative bodies. To accomplish that task, CIRT has formed a sub-committee called the Court Assistance Team, CAT, to provide a quick response. The second task is the development of a Model Judicial Services Contract. This is primarily what CIRT has worked on so a submittal can be made to BJA. The model contract should be submitted to BJA soon. Judge Frazier indicated there are differences between the branches of government in some areas and theses differences are not reconcilable. He expressed some concern that some aspects of the model contract might be found troublesome by many on BJA.
Judge Culp described that judges were not being reappointed by mayors and that he received calls about the propriety of some actions taken by cities. This was one of the reasons for establishing CIRT. He thought CIRT could resolve things in a way that judges could continue in their capacity without compromises being made. He asked BJA to consider the model contract even though there were problems with it, it was certainly better than having a hodge podge of contracts.
Judge McSeveney agreed that there might be a group of object members that could help resolve issues but that the work of CIRT might not go much farther due to the attitude of the city representatives. He pointed out several issues with the current version of the model contract that BJA members might find objectionable but were in the contract as a result of compromises among CIRT members.
Judge Holman commented that he thought a contract between the judge and the city was an odd concept. Election of all judges would obviate the need for a contract. The RCW sets out the judges' responsibilities and the city sets out compensation and benefits and a contract should not be a solution to what is provided by law.
Judge Fleck pointed out that GR 29 provides that BJA should provide a model contract and she wonders if having a model contract was desirable and perhaps the concept could be studied for a time to see what the Court Funding Task Force proposes.
Judge Fleck asked about voting membership on CIRT. Judge Frazier replied that the alternate for the city attorneys was almost always present and that while voting has been informal with decisions reached by consensus and alternate members could not vote.
Chief Justice Alexander expressed concern that the court as an independent branch of government was only in the preamble of the contract and not explicit in the terms of the contract. He thought a model contract could be helpful to judges in remaining independent while in office. He also suggested a possible amendment to GR 29 to clarify that paragraph (k) applies only to non-elected judges.
Other BJA members spoke in favor of the election of all judges as a means to avoid the contract issue.
Judge O'Connor asked if CIRT could still function as a fire brigade on other issues given the differences of opinion between the members. Judge Frazier said he thought judges knew of CIRT but that if there were not any requests for assistance that CIRT should be disbanded. He thought there were several issues on which they could agree.
Judge Fleck proposed a small BJA work group to review the contract once it has been submitted to the BJA. She thanked Judges Frazier and Culp for attending the meeting.
Court Funding Task Force Report
Mr. Jeff Hall discussed the current status of the Task Force's work. The Task Force is still working on determining the gap in funding. The work remaining to be done on that topic includes: 1) estimating the cost of criminal indigent defense and the need for additional funding; 2) estimating the cost for the supervision of misdemeanants and the need for additional funding; and 3) estimating an operating cost per employee.
Mr. Hall discussed staffing ratios have been vetted with some work groups and the SCJA and the direction to establish staffing levels. Ms. Jan Michels pointed out that some of the Work Groups of the Court Funding Task Force and the County Clerks have approved the staffing ratios. Mr. Hall, in response to Ms. Michels' question about why the staffing ratios were coming to BJA independently from other reports of the Court Funding Task Force, said the staffing ratios need to be comparable to the judicial needs estimation and that the topic should be made a part of the work of the BJA Best Practices Committee. He briefly described the methodology currently used in the Court Funding Task Force's work on staffing ratios.
It was proposed to refer the staffing ratios to the trial court judges' and managers’ associations. Judge Costello expressed concern that the SCJA could not guarantee a response by a September deadline.
It was moved by Judge Derr and seconded by Judge McSeveney to request the trial court judges' associations to consider the proposed staffing ratios and to report back by the BJA. The motion carried.
Mr. Hall reported that the Task Force is working on a Nexus Continuum to determine what items should receive full state funding.
Mr. Ron Ward indicated that although there has been some progress on the Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Work Group issues of subject matter jurisdiction and election of judges, this work has regressed over the past week.
Mr. Hall reported that the Executive Committee of BJA met via conference call to engage Denny Heck to consult on Task Force work products and strategy.
Family Law Handbook
Judge Fleck and Mr. Hall reported that the handbook has been distributed. Judge Seinfeld suggested a chapter on the legal requirements that result from a marriage. Mr. Dick Manning and Judge Churchill suggested a more positive tone.
Judge Fleck spoke of the confusion over the interpretation of the number of days provided by the rule. The underlying question is whether the 30-day buffer period applies following the 5-day excluded period for an affidavit of prejudice. It was suggested that the trial judges' associations consider this suggested rule change and report back to the BJA within 90 days.
It was moved and seconded to refer the suggested rule change to the trial judges’ associations. The motion carried.
Water Court Committee
Chief Justice Alexander recapitulated the actions taken at the last BJA meeting. He suggested that Judge Brown and Judge O'Connor participate as co-chairs and that Judge Kurtz will be the other appellate judge. Superior court judges on the committee will be Judge Krese, Judge Glenna Hall, Commissioner Sidney Ottem, and one judge to be named. Judge O'Connor reported that the work group has a first meeting scheduled.
Reports from the Courts
Court of Appeals
Judge Baker reported the Chief Judge is Ron Cox and Judge Anne Ellington is Acting Chief Judge. Judge Seinfeld reported that Judge Marywave Van Deren is appointed to the vacancy at Division II and will start in May. Judge Quinn-Brintnall will be the Chief Judge for Division II. Judge Ken Kato is now Chief Judge for Division III and the Acting Chief Judge is Judge Dennis Sweeney.
Judge O'Connor reported there has been no Board meeting since the last BJA meeting. She described the ongoing work on GR 31 and the Water Court Committee.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
Judge Eileen Kato reported on DMCJA efforts to collect outstanding dues and that some increase in collections was noted. She thinks it will be a challenge for the DMCJA to determine what benefits judges are entitled to as a member and what the consequences are of not paying dues. Many municipalities are not paying the $125 in dues for a judge that serves on a very part time basis. She said the Association is exploring whether judges who have not paid dues should attend educational conferences or to do so pay an added fee to cover the dues.
Washington State Bar Association
Mr. Ron Ward reported on the Board of Governors meeting in April. The Board established a section for lawyers serving in the armed forces. The Ethics 2003 committee report on the Rules of Professional Conduct will be discussed over the next few meetings and the Board will take action by early fall before referring the rule changes to the Supreme Court Rules Committee. WSBA is planning a series of diversity initiatives including a leadership academy to develop growth of leadership with a focus on minorities and women. The May Board meeting is at the Quinault Resort.
Chief Justice Alexander thanked Mr. Ron Ward for his assistance in arranging for Dennis Archer to speak at the Fall Judicial Conference.
Judge Fleck drew the Board's attention to the letter from Equal Justice Coalition thanking the BJA for its support during the past legislative session.
Justice Madsen pointed out the materials in the packet regarding the distribution of the STOP grant funds.
Judge Fleck thanked Mr. Rowland Thompson for arranging juror appreciation advertising space in daily newspapers.
Ms. Andra Motyka expressed appreciation from the Superior Court Administrator's Association for the participation allowed by BJA.
Mr. Hall reported that the Presiding Judges' conference has been moved to December.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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