Members present: Judge Deborah Fleck, co-chair, Judge Vickie Churchill, Judge Leonard Costello, Judge Sara Derr, Judge Stephen Holman, Judge Elaine Houghton, Judge Eileen Kato, Judge Kenneth Kato, Judge Gerald Knight, Justice Barbara Madsen, Judge Robert McSeveney, Judge Alicia Nakata, Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall, Judge James Riehl, Mr. Dave Savage, Judge Evan Sperline, and Judge Michael Trickey
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Judge Deborah Fleck, co-chair.
Judge Fleck reported on her attendance at the ABA Annual Conference. Judge Fleck provided a handout from the ABA Conference relating to court funding.
Judge Riehl advised that the Commission on Domestic Violence is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Judge Riehl reported that he is chair of the editorial board for the Judges Journal. He added that the Judges Journal received the Apex Award.
Judge Eileen Kato provided an overview of the ABA Conference. She advised that the Kennedy Report on Sentencing was presented at the Conference. She is a member of that Commission. Judge Eileen Kato reported she had been appointed to the Judicial Ethics Committee.
The Board was advised that Mr. Robert Gray had been sworn in as the ABA President. The theme for his presidency is juries.
Public Trust and Confidence
Justice Fairhurst reminded the Board of their request for broader representation on the PT&C Committee. Justice Fairhurst directed attention to the membership listed provided in the materials. Justice Fairhurst asked for approval of the membership.
Justice Fairhurst advised that a source of funding has been located for the jury posters. She offered the Board assistance from the Public Trust and Confidence Committee.
Judge Fleck thanked Justice Fairhurst for her leadership of the Public Trust and Confidence Committee.
Residence Address Information for Judicial Candidates
Judge Trickey expressed concern about the judiciary’s security concerns outside of the courtroom and courthouse. He directed attention to information required in the declaration of candidacy standard form set out in RCW 29A.24.031. He pointed out that the candidate is required to provide . . . the address at which he or she is registered . . . Judge Trickey inquired whether the Legislative Committee could make some recommendation for a legislative “fix” that would take reasonable steps to protect judges’ security. Brief discussion followed during which time Judge Trickey agreed to work on proposed language for the September BJA meeting.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Work Group
Judge Schindler advised the Board that she chairs the WG with Ron Ward. She reminded the Board that the CLJWG was formed as part of the Court Funding Task Force to study structural and court funding issues resulting from multiple delivery systems in the same geographical areas.
Judge Schindler reported that representatives from the district courts, municipal courts, cities, counties, clerks, League of Women Voters and other organizations have worked together to develop the principles and concepts. She advised that the principles and concepts had been adopted by the Task Force as a whole. She reminded the members that the principles and concepts had been presented to the BJA at a prior meeting.
Judge Schindler reported that the most controversial concept has to do with the election of judges. Two hundred and eighty cities have municipal courts, with 125 cities having their own courts and 92 cities contracting for services. Of the 105 municipal court judges in Washington State, 86 are part-time and do not have to stand for election. The Courts of Limited Jurisdiction is the only level of court without elected judges. She continued, it was recommended and received consensus that all judges, including part-time would be elected. This recommendation was controversial and was opposed by the Association of Washington Cities and the cities they represent. The WG also discussed expanded subject jurisdiction, but could not reach consensus because of the cost of shifting caseloads.
Judge Schindler reported in the long term, the WG recommends state funded regional courts with jurisdiction over state law, and county and city ordinances. They would be held in locations accessible and convenient to the public and law enforcement. The courts would operate on a full time basis, with elected judges, and offer predictable, minimum levels of service, including probation. Regional courts will increase convenience for the public.
The proposed recommendations for the 2005 legislative session are:
1. Clarify the statutory court options for courts of limited jurisdiction and encourage regionalization of limited jurisdiction courts. All options for statutory authorization of courts of limited jurisdiction should be contained in Title 3 RCW.
2. Update current provisions in Title 3 authorizing municipalities and counties to provide joint court services by interlocal agreement.
3. Elect municipal court judges, like judges at all other levels of court, to promote accountability and the independence of the judiciary.
4. Define and limit authority of district and municipal court commissioners parallel to statutory provisions for superior court commissioners.
5. Amend Title 3 to emphasize a collaborative regional approach to provision of courts services by expanding membership in districting committees to include additional representation from cities, by broadening responsibilities for preparation of the districting plan, and by making the districting committee’s role more reflective of county and city interests.
6. Create a new section in Title 3 authorizing cities to form regional municipal courts and recommend criteria for use of interlocal agreements. This recommendation would allow cities to contract with cities. It is consistent with principles and concepts.
7. Amend juror provisions to allow jurors to be called from the area served by the court.
8. Require part-time limited operation courts to make provisions for timely hearings and processing temporary domestic violence protection orders.
9. Require courts of limited jurisdiction to be accessible to residents of the community they serve. Each court of limited jurisdiction should provide services on a regularly scheduled basis. This recommendation needs to be reworked to require that courts provide AOC with information relating to when courts are in session and when services are available.
10. Recommend that district courts implement dedicated civil calendars and case scheduling.
Judge Holman recalled a recommendation that would authorize municipal courts to hear anti-harassment protection petitions. Judge Schindler agreed and indicated that addition will be made.
Mr. Blair said that the reports are taking a little longer than anticipated to put together. Judge Schindler stated that the draft report would be provided to the WG members for comment. Once the final report is produced, it will be provided to the BJA.
Judge Schindler said that the principles and concepts have been approved by the Task Force. Both the WG and TF extensively debated the principles and concepts, particularly the election of judges. Judge Schindler recommended that BJA adopt the principles and concepts of the CLJWG.
Judge Derr suggested a change, eliminating “a high level” to principle III.
The Board briefly discussed RALJ appeals.
Judge Eileen Kato said she felt the vote on the principles and concepts should be deferred until after fall conference. She indicated that she wants to take the principles and concepts to the DMCJA Board.
Judge Sperline also indicated his preference to not vote on the principles and concepts until a minority report has been provided.
The members discussed whether it was appropriate to adopt the principles and concepts at this time without the minority report.
Judge Sperline said he understood the role of the Task Force was to study the issues and make recommendations to the BJA. He said if BJA is to speak with one voice to the public and the legislature, then the concepts and principles should be considered in context of the entire report. He indicated he is uncomfortable with having “rubber stamped” the principles and concepts without having all the information. He said he is against the motion.
The CLJWG principles and concepts will be placed on the September BJA agenda.
Discussion followed regarding regional courts.
Judge Fleck requested that the Task Force and CLJWG reports be available at the September BJA meeting for consideration and that the members be prepared to vote at the October meeting.
BJA Court Funding Implementation Committee
Judge Fleck reported that an informational meeting of the Committee took place on July 9 and the committee first meet on August 12. She advised that she is co-chairing the committee with Chief Justice Alexander and Wayne Blair is the vice-chair.
The members were informed that the Equal Justice Coalition is working on a biennial budget proposal of $7 million, $2 million for the first year of the biennium and $5 million for the second year. They will continue with efforts to create an Office of Civil Legal Services, similar to the Office of Public Defense.
The Office of Public Defense has been working over the past four years on the parents’ representation programs for dependency cases. Currently two counties are participating in a pilot project for the representation program. The OPD legislative request will include juvenile parents’ defense in Dependency and parental Termination cases; a training component similar to the Judicial College model; additional staff for administration and oversight; and pilot projects for adult criminal defense.
Ms. Michels said that the Board is working with Ms. Joanne Moore, director of OPD, in the development of OPD’s budget request. She said that the request should be based on caseload to ensure the request is at an appropriate level. Ms. Michels advised that all are in agreement that the Office of Public Defense should include trial and appellate courts.
Mr. Hall provided a brief overview of the 2005/2007 court operations legislative proposal. The proposal includes:
1) The state assuming 50% of district court judges’ salaries and includes district court judges in the JRS account with the state paying 100% of the JRS costs.
2) The state assuming 50% of the cost of municipal court judges’ salaries (up to the current level of a district court judge’s salary) and includes municipal court judges in the JRS account with the state paying 100% of JRS cost if:
• The municipal court judge is in an elected position and
• The municipal court judge is compensated at a rate equal to at least 95% of a district court judge’s salary.
3) The state assumes 50% of the cost of jury fees and mileage costs with fees set under the Jury Commission model of $10 for the first day of service and $45 for each subsequent day.
4) Establishment of a Trial Court Improvement Account in each jurisdiction funded in an amount equal to 50% of the savings realized in each jurisdiction as a result of state assumption of 50% of the CLJ judges’ salary and jury fees/mileage.
5) The filing fee proposal is adopted without specific dedication at either the state or local level.
Mr. Hall advised that he has met with lobbyists, DMCJA Board and the County Clerks’ Executive Board. Mr. Hall indicated he is ready to begin talks with legislators and other stakeholder groups. He said he would be going on “road trips” to meet with local judges at their local courthouses. He will advise judges what we are doing, talk about the legislative process and ask judges to assist by talking with local legislators.
Brief discussion followed regarding the proposals.
Judge Fleck advised that Ms. Appel, AOC staff, had been assigned to work on the long-range plan; target date is October.
Reports from the Courts
Court of Appeals
Judge Houghton reported:
• Judge William Baker and Judge Elaine Houghton will participate in the Salary Commission interviews.
Judge Costello reported:
• All superior court judges are standing for election and most of the incumbents did not draw opponents.
• A subcommittee has been created to discuss the State v. Blakely ramifications and any response by the association.
• Judge Matheson and Judge Hilyer will represent the association on the Task Force for Non-economic Damages. Those names have been forwarded to Governor Locke.
• Judge Costello met with the chair of the Salary Commission and Fred Owen. Superior Court Judges to be interviewed are Judge Michael Trickey, Judge Susan Hahn, Judge Rebecca Baker, Judge Paula Casey, and Judge John Meyer.
• Ballots were sent out to all superior court judges in an effort to determine whether the judges were interested in taking action in an attempt to improve the retirement benefits available to judges currently serving under PERS. The response was in favor of pursuing improved retirement benefits. SCJA would include judges with similar retirement benefits, at all levels of court. The SCJA Pension Committee is meeting to consider options, but the Board is not sure if action will be taken this session.
District and Municipal Courts
Judge Eileen Kato reported:
• Judge James Riehl, Judge David Edwards, Judge Corinna Harn, and Judge Eileen Kato will participate in the interviews being conducted by the Salary Commission.
• A BJA Long-range presentation was made to the DMCJA Board by Jeff Hall.
• “Pay to Play” may be in place for the next year’s Spring Conference. Members in good standing will pay a reduced conference fee.
• GR 31 discussions continue. Comments will be submitted to the Supreme Court Rules Committee.
Access to Justice
Judge Tripp reported it has been ten years since ATJ was established by the Supreme Court. The ATJ is considering possible changes to the Supreme Court Order establishing the Board and will seek input from the BJA.
AOC will be asked to participate in a mapping project. The project will match resources with need.
Washington State Bar Association
Mr. Savage reported:
• The Board has established a student loan repayment program. This program will provide for loan repayment assistance for members in public or legal services jobs.
• Mr. Blair made a presentation at the July meeting, at which the Court Funding Task Force principles were adopted.
• David Swartling will chair the Court Rules Committee. The changes to the civil rules have been delivered to the Supreme Court Rules Committee.
• Ellen Dial chaired the Ethics 2003 Committee which reviewed over 600 pages of materials in an effort to amend the RPCs to be consistent with the ABA model rule changes. The Board adopted the majority of the committee’s recommendations. Those rules will now be forwarded to the Supreme Court Rules Committee for action.
• The Board had a presentation of the proposed recommendations by the Professional Development Implementation Committee. The recommendations will require young lawyers to attend four hours of orientation and 15 hours of additional CLE credits in the first year of practice, at a reduced cost of the programs.
• The Board adopted recommendations of the Electronic Legal Research Evaluation Team recommendation of Casemaker as an electronic legal research tool for the WSBA members. The members can use this tool at no cost. Casemaker is also available to judges. It will take about six months to get the program up and running.
The next meeting is Sunday, September 19 in Spokane.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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