Board for Judicial Administration
Members present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair; Judge Robert McSeveney, member-chair; Judge Mary Kay Becker; Judge Michael Cooper; Ms. Ellen Dial; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Richard Fitterer; Judge Deborah Fleck; Judge Stephen Holman; Judge Gerald Knight; Judge Alicia Nakata; Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall; Judge James Riehl; Judge Evan Sperline; and Judge Michael Trickey
Guests present: Mr. James Bamberger; Mr. Richard Carlson; Ms. Pam Daniels; Ms. Jan Michels; Judge Gregory Tripp; and Ms. Margaret Yetter
Staff present: Mr. Gil Austin; Ms. Jude Cryderman; Mr. Doug Haake; Mr. Jeff Hall; Ms. Sally Main; Mr. Dirk Marler; and Ms. Ann Sweeney
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair.
Hearing no objections, Chief Justice Alexander stated that the minutes of the September 18, 2005 meeting were approved as published.
Mr. Hall briefly reviewed the proposed change to the by-laws.
It was moved by Judge Derr and seconded by Judge Fleck to approved the amendments to the Board for Judicial Administration by-laws as presented. The motion carried.
Judge Derr reminded the Board that at the September BJA meeting, the ad hoc security committee had made a recommendation that BJA establish a standing court security committee. Following the September meeting the ad hoc committee had discussed including disaster planning, but decided that the charge of the standing committee should be limited to courthouse security.
It was moved by Judge Derr and seconded by Judge Quinn-Brintnall to approve the creation of a BJA standing committee to focus on courthouse security for the users of the courthouses. Motion passed.
Court Funding Implementation Committee
Mr. Hall reported that the Court Funding Implementation Committee had forwarded a pilot project on jury fees recommendation to the BJA for its consideration. The proposal is to conduct a pilot project to determine if paying jurors more money (equating to $61.04 per day) changes the demographic of the jury pool. The request would be in the form of a supplemental budget request for the 2006 legislative session.
Judge Quinn-Brintnall expressed concern about having the court involved in a survey of citizens that did not respond to a jury summons. She pointed out that non-responding jurors have committed a misdemeanor, which should not be overlooked.
The Board discussed possible avenues in dealing with non-responding jurors, such as blanket immunity from the prosecutor or the presiding judge taking action in their jurisdiction which would ensure that non-responding jurors participating in the survey are immune from prosecution. They also discussed the cost of the proposed pilot and whether the proposed survey would produce data to support the notion that increasing juror pay, increases juror response.
Judge Sperline stated his concern that an increase to juror pay could result in the “Westinghouse effect,” which means that a group with the knowledge that they are being studied will respond. He pointed out that he is less concerned about the constitutional question regarding non-responding because the Grant County prosecutor does not charge for non-appearance.
Discussion continued regarding the effects that increased juror pay may have on the diversity of the jury pools, the survey results providing data justifying the juror pay increase and the non-response issue.
Chief Justice Alexander said that the current juror pay, $10 per day, is inadequate. He went on to say that the AOC budget is presented by the Supreme Court. He stated that BJA's approval is not a matter of form, but of processing. He also stated that BJA's support is critical to the supplemental budget request.
Mr. Hall explained to the Board that the Implementation Committee is looking for approval to move forward with the understanding that pieces of the study will require additional work. The Committee will report back to the Board to get consent to continue a piece at a time. He stated that the supplemental budget request needs to be completed next week in order for it to move forward.
It was moved by Judge Fleck and seconded to approve the general outline of the Jury Fee Research Project, including the full supplemental budget request amount which includes both the increase to juror pay and the cost of conducting the survey. The survey portion will include addressing with the researchers the ethical and admission of misdemeanant issues.
Brief discussion followed.
The motion passed with one abstention and one vote in opposition.
Court Funding Implementation Committee—Trial Court Improvement Account Reports
Mr. Hall advised the Board that the Implementation Committee had identified language interpreters as the next area to seek funding from the legislature. The Committee will take the next year to develop the budget request.
Mr. Hall reviewed the draft Trial Court Improvement Account 2005 Annual Report, stating that the Implementation Committee had made an in-depth review, but had not seen the results of the edits.
Superior Court Report
Judge Trickey reported that the Superior Court Judges' Association continues to look at felony sentencing in Washington State. He advised that the legislature had directed the Sentencing Guidelines Commission to reinstate discretion in sentencing. The Association provided input into the Commission's report to the legislature.
Judge Trickey stated that the retirement proposals are works in progress. The Association's policy/pension committee is hoping to have legislation for the 2006 session.
Access to Justice
Judge Tripp advised that Access to Justice is now ten years old and the Supreme Court issued an Order making them a permanent group.
Judge Tripp said they ATJ is currently working on a mapping project. In addition, ATJ is working on a state plan that is required by the Legal Services Corporation.
Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA)
Mr. Bamberger thanked the Board for leading the justice in jeopardy effort.
Mr. Bamberger provided an overview of OCLA's activities for the first quarter. He pointed out that most of the activities had been chronicled in OCLA's first quarterly report which was provided to the Board.
Mr. Bamberger advised that OCLA will be submitting a small supplemental budget request to the 2006 legislature. He stated the request will be for $600,000 for emergency domestic violence representation and to increase the level of civil legal aid representation.
Mr. Bamberger asked that the BJA place OCLA's supplemental budget request on their November agenda. OCLA is asking for BJA's consideration and support of their supplemental budget request as part of the justice in jeopardy partnership.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Structure Options Committee (CLJSOC)
Judge Derr reminded the Board that the CLJ Structure Options Committee grew out of the Cities' move to create mega municipal courts. In addition, SB 5712, carried over from last session, will require review of the proposed amendment language prior to the 2006 session.
Judge Derr explained that the CLJSOC had edited the original policy statement of the Court Funding Task Force CLJWG report. The Committee will ask for BJA's endorsement of the policy statement and goals at the November meeting.
Judge Nakata added that once the policy statement and goals are approved by the BJA, they will be forwarded to the DMCJA for consideration.
Judge Nakata advised that the Cites will probably move forward with some type of bill that allows for contracting between cities. She stated that BJA and DMCJA need to be prepared to respond to legislation initiated by the Cities.
Judge Nakata also advised that there is a case pending in the Court of Appeals as to whether or not the current statutory structure allows for such an arrangement.
Best Practices Committee
Judge Sperline reported that the Committee is assembling base measures that will be applied to all courts. The performance audit surveys will be used in all levels of court, except for the Supreme Court.
Governor's Task Force on Non-economic Damages
A written report was provided.
Mr. Hall reported there is a national movement, spearheaded by a group out of Texas, proposing specialty courts to handle medical health care cases. These would be full-time courts without juries.
Mr. Hall said that federal legislation would provide funding for four pilot states to develop and implement medical courts. The House Judiciary Committee is hold a work session on medical courts in the near future. He said there may be a possibility that Washington could be explored for being one of the pilot states. He advised that the SCJA Civil Law Committee is also looking at the issue.
Association of Washington Superior Court Administrators' (AWSCA) Resolution
Mr. Carlson stated that the AWSCA resolution grew out of repeated concerns and conversations reflecting the frustration of court administrators in dealing with professional services, in particular, concerns of small, remote or rural courts in trying to gain access to services. In particular, guardian ad litems and certified language interpreters for those lesser used languages can pose problems, not only in locating the services, but also in costs associated with the services. These could be seen as access to justice issues.
Mr. Carlson said the AWSCA's intent in adopting the resolution was to raise the level of awareness on these issues. Mr. Carlson advised that the same information has been provided to the Access to Justice Board.
Washington State Bar Association
Ms. Ellen Dial reported that the Bar Board of Governors had held a special meeting to discuss and take action relating to I-330. She advised that following the special meeting, WSBA members had received an email pointing out areas that the membership may want to oppose.
Ms. Dial advised that the bill to split the 9th Circuit has been voted out of committee. She further advised that President Taylor has issued another letter expressing opposition to the split. A general hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, October 26, during which the 9th Circuit split will be one of the items heard.
Ms. Dial advised that the Supreme Court has adopted a practice rule that will require a new four hour pre-admission course before a lawyer can take the oath to practice law. The Bar's hope is that the pre-admission course, which is free of charge, will enable new lawyers to be better prepared for their profession.
Court of Appeals
Judge Becker advised that Dirk Marler, AOC, has been appointed as the Court's liaison to AOC.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
Judge Nakata reported the DMCJA Board had approved the proposed limitation that commissioners cannot preside over any trial unless agreed to by the parties. The commissioners would be limited to presiding over civil and criminal trials.
The DMCJA Board approved proposed bylaw changes for general membership approval at Spring Conference are:
Judge Nakata that work continues with the Title 3 Subcommittee. That Subcommittee's recommendations have not been officially presented to the DMCJA Board for action.
Mr. Hall stated that the November meeting will remain on the 18th at SeaTac.
Mr. Hall advised the Board that the morning of the December meeting will be a joint meeting with the Court Management Council. He asked that any agenda items be forwarded to him.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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