Board for Judicial Administration
Members present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair; Judge Deborah Fleck, co-chair; Judge Vickie Churchill; Judge Leonard Costello; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Stephen Holman; Judge Elaine Houghton; Judge Ken Kato; Judge Faye Kennedy; Justice Barbara Madsen; Ms. Janet McLane; Judge Robert McSeveney; Judge Alicia Nakata; Judge James M. Riehl; Judge Evan Sperline; and Judge Michael Trickey
Guests present: Justice Bobbe Bridge; Mr. Richard Carlson; Judge Paula Casey; and Ms. Renee Townsley
Staff present: Ms. Jude Cryderman; Mr. Doug Haake; Mr. Jeff Hall; Ms. Yvonne Pettus; Ms. Janet Skreen; and Ms. Ann Sweeney
Call to Order
Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair, called the meeting to order.
Unified Family Court Principles
Justice Bobbe Bridge provided a brief history of the Unified Family Court Workgroup. Justice Bridge stated that the Workgroup had been a direct result of the work of Project 2001. She went on to advise that King County has had their pilot project in place since 1996 and Thurston County’s pilot project existed prior to the establishment of the Workgroup. In 1999 the legislature provided enough money for the pilot project to include Snohomish County.
One of the tasks of the Workgroup was to identify basic principles that underpin the foundation of the Unified Family Courts (UFC). One of the benefits of the UFC is that it provides a holistic and consistent way of dealing with the needs of the family. UFC also produces better outcomes and reduces future contacts. The UFC allows a judge to follow the family through all court issues.
Justice Bridge advised on December 18, 2002, the Workgroup presented its recommendation for implementation of the UFC to the BJA. BJA suggested that the Workgroup submit its recommendation to the Superior Court Judges’ Association for consideration. At its September 22, 2004, meeting the SCJA approved adoption of the best practices and supported the court rule provided adequate funding was available.
AOC’s Washington State Center for Court Research released its findings on December 1, 2004. The key findings included:
Justice Bridge further advised on December 10, 2004, the BJA Best Practices Committee voted to send the UFC principles, which are recommended for Supreme Court Rule, to the BJA.
The five principles of the Unified Family Court for consideration for BJA’s endorsement are:
1) One Family, One Judicial Team. Perhaps the hallmark of a UFC is the concept of one judicial team, comprised of dedicated and specially trained judges and commissioners, hearing all of a family’s legal matters. Recommendations include:
5) Mandatory Mediation. UFC is a problem-solving court. Use of non-adversarial methods to resolve family disputes during the life of a case is critical. In addition to an overall problem solving-approach, the UFC Workgroup recommends:
Justice Bridge requested that for the March meeting, the members:
1) review the materials,
2) endorse the five principles, recognizing fiscal concerns, and
3) support a mandate to work with the Court Funding Implementation Committee to identify the fiscal impact of UFC.
Judge Casey advised that more than 40 percent of the Thurston County Superior Court's workload is family and juvenile issues.
Judge Sperline reported that the Best Practices Committee did not fully vet the proposal, but felt because there had been a thorough examination they did not want to hold up the process until the Committee’s next quarterly meeting in March.
Judge Trickey stated that there are a number of therapeutic courts that have evidenced their effectiveness. He voiced concern regarding how to prioritize the resources for these courts.
Justice Bridge said that although the principles are ripe for adoption, the fiscal part still needs additional work. The rule is not ready for recommendation until the fiscal impact of the rule can be determined.
Judge Sperline pointed out that another important challenge is the unstable, decentralized family structure. He asked how it was possible to have a rule that makes sense when the members of the family have been re-shuffled and evolve as an entirely new family. He reminded the Board that it is difficult to deal with the legal issues of a family, if the family keeps changing.
Washington State Center for Court Research
Ms. McLane advised that AOC’s Research unit has been renamed, by Supreme Court Order as the Washington State Center for Court Research. The Center will be promoted as a research center for the judiciary.
Commission on Children in Foster Care
Chief Justice Alexander reported that the Conference of Chief Justices passed a resolution encouraging all states to work toward creating a Commission on Children in Foster Care in their state. Washington’s Commission, co-chaired by Justice Bridge, was established by Supreme Court Order.
Justice Bridge reported the idea of establishing commissions in each state was a recommendation of the Pew Commission. She said the Pew Commission has two target areas: improving the existing federal funding stream and improving court oversight.
Justice Bridge advised the members on Washington’s Commission, which she co-chairs with Uma Ahluwalia, DSHS Children’s Administration, are:
The Honorable Terry Bergeson
Superintendent of Public Instruction
The Honorable Leonard Costello
Superior Court Judges’ Association
The Honorable James Hargrove
Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee
The Honorable Ruth Kagi
House Children and Family Services Committee
The Honorable Rob McKenna
The Honorable Michelle Demmert
Northwest Intertribal Court System
Ms. Joanne Moore
Office of Public Defense
Mr. Steven Smith
Foster Parents Association of Washington State
Mr. John Stout
Washington State CASA
The first meeting of the Commission is scheduled for February 24.
Judge Trickey stated that resources are not just a judicial issue. He continued the recommendation for more funding for parental representation is critical.
Chief Justice Alexander advised that an upcoming issue of “Full Court Press” will include an article on the Commission.
Justice Madsen reported that the Gender and Justice Commission has the responsibility to distribute the STOP Grant funds awarded from the federal VAWA money. Courts were provided an opportunity to submit a request for funding new projects. This year $104,985 in STOP Grant funds were available.
Projects selected for funding include:
Justice Madsen advised that the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence is hosting a CLE program on the use of expert witnesses in domestic violence cases on April 8 in Seattle. She said that the Gender and Justice Commission will be awarding up to $3,000 in scholarships.
Best Practices Committee
Judge Sperline explained that the Committee has reached a point in the CourtMetrix project that a decision needed to be made regarding the project's status. The Committee recommends continuing support of the existing application in the current pilot courts for about 18 months.
Judge Sperline reminded the members that last year BJA approved the policies and procedures for court performance audits, which included identification of base measures. This set of measures would apply to all courts, although the measures would be tested in three pilot courts before they are adopted.
Judge Sperline advised that a small subcommittee has been created to assist AOC with the development of a recommended list of base measures.
Expansion of the Courthouse Facilitator Program
Ms. McLane reminded the members that they accepted a report from Judge Paul Bastine, chair of the Practice of Law Board’s Facilitator Expansion Committee at the Board’s December meeting. The three areas that should be expanded for the courthouse facilitators are:
1) Residential Landlord Tenant Unlawful Detainer
2) Lower Court Appeals and Administrative Appeals
3) Guardianship and Probate
Brief discussion followed.
It was moved by Judge Riehl and seconded by Judge Sperline to communicate to the Practice of Law Board that it include the recommendation of the courthouse facilitator expansion committee in its examination of the issue of authorizing nonlawyers to engage in the practice of law. The BJA will defer further action until June. The motion carried.
Residence Address Information for Judicial Candidates
Judge Trickey reminded the Board of its previous discussions relating to the security issue surrounding the publishing of judicial candidates’ residential addresses.
Mr. Hall advised he had a conversation with the president of the Auditors’ Association, who is willing to talk about the practice of placing the home addresses on the website.
The Board agreed that Judge Trickey and Mr. Hall should continue their conversations with the Auditors’ Association.
Ms. Townsley advised that the Okanogan County Assessor places floor plans, pictures and property lines of county residents’ homes on its website.
Mr. Hall directed attention to the chart outlining BJA’s position on the bills that are being tracked this session.
Judge Sperline reported that Representative Hinkle had contacted him regarding the courts’ position on HB 1001. Representative Hinkle felt that the courts took no position, but then torpedoed the bill through emails to the committee chair. Judge Sperline assured Representative Hinkle that he would take the issue to the BJA and report back to him.
Judge Costello responded that the issue had been before the BJA Executive Committee during which time the Committee was advised that the Superior Court Judges’ Association was comfortable with the current way elections are conducted for the superior courts. He continued, they did not want a public debate, so tried to keep under the radar but did communicate observations to the chair. Judge Costello advised the chair that changing the way that superior court judges are elected would take judges off the bench for longer periods of time to campaign. He received no response from the chair.
Brief discussion followed during which time the Board discussed what is meant when the Board takes the position of “watch.” At the end of the discussion, Judge Sperline felt he had enough information to respond to Representative Hinkle.
Mr. Hall reported that all bills, except for court funding are moving and are where they need to be at this point and time. He said that he expects to get the court funding bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary next week and on to Ways and Means. He stressed the need for judges to be talking with legislators.
Mr. Hall said that the budget deficit is expected to be $2.2 billion and both the Governor and the republicans are saying no new taxes.
Mr. Hall continued his report stating that the bills to increase district court jurisdiction to $75,000 and the Title 3 re-write are not moving forward. The language for the Title 3 re-write will be worked on prior to next session.
Mr. Hall advised that Ron Ward met with the Governor to discuss “Justice in Jeopardy,” but he had not had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Ward regarding the outcome of the meeting.
Ms. McLane reported that Justice Madsen, Judge Houghton, Judge Costello and Judge Eileen Kato presented information at the January Salary Commission meeting. She said the Commission adopted the proposed schedule that includes a 1½% cost of living increase for judges in 2005 and another 1½% in 2006. The Commission did not adopt the 1-2% equity increase that was recommended by Fred Owen.
Ms. McLane advised that the judiciary will have another opportunity next week to make a presentation in support of the 1-2% equity increase. Chief Justice Alexander will attend that meeting.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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