Board for Judicial Administration
Members present: Judge Deborah Fleck, member-chair; Judge Mary Kay Becker; Judge Vickie Churchill; Judge Michael Cooper; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Richard Fitterer; Judge Stephen Holman; Judge Gerald Knight via telephone; Justice Barbara Madsen via telephone; Ms. Janet McLane; Judge Robert McSeveney; Judge Alicia Nakata; Judge Evan Sperline; and Judge Michael Trickey
Call to order
The meeting was called to order by Judge Deborah Fleck, member-chair.
Report of the Courts
Judge Trickey reported the superior courts are looking forward to working with the Sentencing Guidelines Commission. He advised that judicial retirement continues to be an area of interest for the superior courts.
District and Municipal Courts
Judge Nakata advised during the DMCJA Spring Conference three new Board members were elected: Steve Brown, Annette Plese and Colleen Hartl. In addition, Jerry Roach and Maggie Ross were appointed to the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Judge Nakata reminded the members that the expansion of the Commission on Judicial Conduct to include a member of the municipal court required a constitutional amendment. She stated they are working with Senator Adam Kline and Representative Brendan Williams on the pamphlet statement and it will be on the November ballot.
Judge Holman added that during Spring Conference, Judge McSeveney had been elected to a second four-year term on the BJA.
Judge Knight pointed out a correction to the next meeting date on page 8 of the minutes.
Election of Member-Chair
Judge Derr nominated Judge Robert McSeveney for the position of member-chair of the Board for Judicial Administration. The nomination was seconded by Judge Churchill. Judge Trickey moved to close the nominations and Judge Sperline seconded the motion. Judge Derr moved to vote by acclamation. The motion passed.
Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA) Appointment
Judge Fleck briefly explained that the OCLA will have an 11-member oversight committee. Two of those members are appointed by the BJA. A brief discussion followed.
It was moved by Judge Derr to have the Executive Committee make the selection to the OCLA Oversight Committee, bringing their recommendation to the whole Board for confirmation during the July meeting. The motion was seconded by Judge Sperline and it passed.
Judicial Remarks to Prospective Jurors
Justice Fairhurst advised the Board that the Public Trust and Confidence Committee's (PT&C) Juror Appreciation Subcommittee had partnered with volunteers from the Council of Public Legal Education to create the “Judicial Remarks to Prospective Jurors” script. Justice Fairhurst reported that the PT&C Committee had devoted an entire meeting to a line-by-line review of the script. Once revisions were made to the original document, it was presented to the Committee, at which time the Committee unanimously voted to adopt the document.
The Board briefly discussed the script, requesting that a minor change be made to the paragraph dealing with juror hardship.
It was moved by Judge Sperline to accept and approve the Pubic Trust and Confidence Committee's Juror Appreciation Subcommittee's “Judicial Remarks to Prospective Jurors” script as modified and express the BJA's thanks for their work. The motion was seconded by Judge McSeveney and passed.
Justice Madsen and Judge Knight did not continue with the meeting following the break.
Judge O'Connor provided a brief history of efforts relating to water courts.
Judge O'Connor advised that, along with Commissioner Ottem, she had testified before legislative committees last summer and early fall. A re-drafted water courts bill was introduced during the 2005 legislative session, but by the end of January had made no progress and was, by then, essentially dead for the session.
Judge O'Connor indicated that the executive and legislative branches have not been focusing much on water courts since the end of session. Mr. Neidhardt reported he had several conversations with legislative staff during which they indicated a current focus on more immediate issues such as the impending drought, rather than on longer-term issues such as ramping up general water adjudications and creating a water court.
Judge O'Connor said the two major issues that BJA will need to deal with are: 1) method of selection of water court judges and term of office and 2) role of affidavit of prejudice.
Mr. Neidhardt reviewed the evolution of judicial selection and term proposals for the water courts in Washington.
Judge O'Connor reviewed the three possible options for selecting water court judges:
Judge O'Connor advised that the work group has changed their recommendation to BJA from competitive election to retention election because they felt it would provide an opportunity for the sitting judge to run on the record without opposition. The work group also recommended that the term of office be expanded to eight years in order to build up expertise.
Judge O'Connor next reviewed the affidavit of prejudice. She reminded the members that the policy statement included a conclusion that the affidavits of prejudice needs to be amended so that it doesn't apply to general water right adjudications. The judges should only have to recuse for actual prejudice or conflicts. Statutory language will be developed creating standards for the disqualification of water court judges.
Brief discussion followed. Judge Fleck stated with the absence of Chief Justice Alexander, the full discussion will be moved to the July meeting.
Mr. Hall briefly reviewed the draft model ordinance for trial court improvement account.
Court Funding Implementation Committee
Mr. Hall reviewed the agenda for the Implementation Committee's meeting on June 22.
The Board briefly discussed the efforts put forth during this year's legislative session.
Judge Fleck indicated her pleasure in serving as the member-chair.
Next meeting is scheduled for July 15. The first part of the day will be spent in a joint meeting with the county clerks.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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