Members present: Judge Robert McSeveney, member-chair; Judge Marlin Appelwick; Judge Mary Kay Becker; Judge Michael Cooper; Ms. Ellen Dial; Judge Richard Fitterer; Judge Deborah Fleck; Judge Gerald Knight; Justice Barbara Madsen; Ms. Janet McLane; Judge Alicia Nakata; Judge James Riehl; and Judge Evan Sperline
Staff present: Mr. Gil Austin; Ms. Jude Cryderman; Mr. Doug Haake; Mr. Jeff Hall; Mr. Dirk Marler; Mr. Ramsey Radwan; and Ms. Ann Sweeney
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Judge Robert McSeveney, member-chair.
Judge McSeveney announced the appointment of Judge Marlin Appelwick, Court of Appeals, Division I, to the Board.
Judge McSeveney asked the attendees to introduce themselves.
Judge Appelwick moved for reconsideration of the approval of the minutes of the October 21, 2005 meeting. The motion was seconded. Judge Nakata made an amendment to page 6, last sentence in paragraph 4. That sentence will now read:
It was moved by Judge Fleck and seconded by Judge Nakata to amend the minutes of the September 18, 2005 meeting to add the following language to the Merging of King County’s Superior and District Courts report:
Judge Fleck advised that the King County bench voted on a position that we support the continuing efforts of the Board for Judicial Administration to study and evaluate changes in the structure of Washington courts throughout the state. Therefore, the King County Superior Court advises those involved in the King County Bar Association's Court Consolidation Project that the court will not participate in its study of court consolidation at this time.
Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA)
Mr. Hall reminded the members that Mr. James Bamberger, executive director of the Office of Civil Legal Aid, had made a presentation in October during which he had asked that the Board endorse OCLA’s supplemental budget request.
When asked if the OCLA Oversight Committee had supported the supplemental budget request, Mr. Hall responded that OCLA Oversight Committee had approved the request.
Ms. Michels advised that the Washington State Bar Association’s Board of Governors will also be presented with a request to endorse the OCLA supplemental budget request at the next BOG meeting.
CASA Supplemental Budget Request
Mr. Hall reported that the Washington State CASA made a presentation at the October meeting of the Court Funding Implementation Committee (CFIC) on their supplemental budget request and that following that presentation the BJA CFIC agreed to recommend endorsement by the full BJA. To that end, a draft letter from the BJA to the Governor is included in the materials for endorsement by the Board.
BJA Legislative Agenda
Mr. Hall said that the legislative agenda will be bifurcated. First the BJA agenda, followed by the Court Funding Implementation Committee’s agenda.
Mr. Hall directed attention to the three items proposed for the BJA legislative agenda:
1. Judicial Positions - Clallam County Superior Court
Mr. Hall reported that Clallam County Commissioners had written in support of the request for a new superior court judicial position. Mr. Hall indicated with BJA’s approval, he would find sponsors and people to testify in support of the bill.
It was moved by Judge Riehl and seconded by Judge Nakata to endorse the request by the Clallam County Commissioners to support their request for an additional superior court judicial position. The motion passed.
2. Photo Enforcement of Toll Violations
Mr. Hall provided the background of the photo enforcement. He advised that the citation is issued to the registered owner of the vehicle, not the operator. The citation does not appear on an individual driver’s record, but on the vehicle’s registration. Mr. Hall stated that the suggestion had been made that the fee for violation of tolls detected by photo enforcement be statewide.
Mr. Hall advised of the request by the Department of Transportation (DOT) that they might recoup the amount of the toll they did not receive. Mr. Hall went on to say that although AOC’s ISD indicated they could write the program to provide the toll to DOT, it could take 250-300 hours to program. It could also result in the delay of other projects.
Brief discussion followed.
It was moved by Judge Fleck to go forward with the billing including permission to negotiate the penalty amount statewide and advising the Department of Transportation that the toll amount will not be deducted from the penalty amount. The motion was seconded and passed.
3. Judicial Retirement Account
Judge Evan Sperline excused himself from discussions and actions regarding the Judicial Retirement Account.
Mr. Hall advised that the purpose of this legislation is to allow for the disbursement of funds from an individual account pursuant to a qualified domestic relations orders.
Mr. Radwan explained that an attorney general’s opinion had been requested regarding previous membership in PERS, along with the broader-based state and/or local retirement system.
Ms. McLane said that both the assistant attorney general for retirement and the assistant attorney general for AOC have been consulted. She said this bill needs to go forward separately from the work being done by the SCJA.
It was moved by Judge Fleck to authorize staff to move forward with the judicial retirement account bill and to broaden its scope based on the attorney general’s opinion. The motion was seconded and carried.
Judge Sperline re-joined the meeting.
Judge Fleck reported on the progress being made by the SCJA on their proposed revisions to the retirement system available to judges. The SCJS’s recommendation would make judicial retirement benefits in Washington State more attractive to those considering a career in the judiciary and comparable to judges in other states.
The proposed improvements to the system include:
Judge Fleck explained that the proposal includes superior court and court of appeals judges and justices of the Supreme Court. District court judges and elected members of the municipal court are eligible if approved by their local government.
The members discussed the actual contribution rates and amounts.
Judge Nakata informed the members that the proposed retirement benefit formula: restoring comparability to judicial retirement is on the agenda for the December DMCJA Board meeting. She indicated the Board will see the information for the first time, so it is unlikely that they will take a position at their December meeting.
CLJ Structure Options Sub-Committee
Judge Nakata reminded the members that at the December 2004 BJA meeting, four recommendations dealing with the structure of the courts of limited jurisdiction had been approved.
1. Clarify the statutory court options and encourage regionalization of courts of limited jurisdiction. All courts of limited jurisdiction court models 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. Create a new section in Title 3 authorizing cities to contract with other cities to form regional municipal courts with elected judges.
4. Amend Title 3 to emphasize a collaborative regional approach to the provision of district and municipal court services by expanding the role and membership of the districting committee.
Judge Nakata provided a brief overview of the work of the sub-committee. Judge Nakata advised the members that the DMCJA Board had approved the recommendation of the election of all judges. The proposal includes that all judges full-time and part-time would be elected by 2010.
Judge Nakata said the contracting bill would provide contracting between the hosting county or city and the contracting county or city. She continued the issue is that there is no clear statutory authority for municipal courts to contract with each other. The proposal requires that the presiding judge of the hosting court must be a signatory to the contract. The presiding judge of the terminated court would be part of the negotiation process, but not required to be a signatory.
Another provision of the bill allows a county to decrease the number of district court judges to be elected in a county if the county contracts with a city for district court services. In addition, the proposed legislation requires that where two or more cities have contracted for services, the judge position must be elected.
Judge Nakata reported that another provision changing the composition of the districting committees should be removed.
The draft bill also eliminates municipal departments as a statutory option for cities, though all current municipal departments are grandfathered. Currently there are about a half dozen municipal departments with widely varying structures ranging from a basic contract situation to being more like an independent municipal court.
In response to a question, Judge Nakata explained that the election of judges allows for more independence, but the driving force behind regionalization might be the probation departments. It is very difficult for a part-time court to operate a fully functional probation department. She went on to say that the public expectation is that someone is supervising the imposed conditions.
Ms. McLane reminded the members that the Court Funding Task Force brought its recommendations to the Board about two years ago. Included in the recommendations was the CLJ Work Group’s vision statement. BJA requested that the vision statement be revisited to sharpen and modify, so that the Board was comfortable with the statement. That revised statement is before the Board today.
A brief discussion followed regarding the meaning of "economies of scale savings."
Judge Sperline made a motion to amend the original motion by striking the word "savings" in the last sentence of the policy statement and goal for the courts of limited jurisdiction in Washington State. The motion was seconded and Judge Riehl accepted the motion as a friendly amendment.
Judge Nakata made a motion to amend the first sentence of the policy statement and goal for the courts of limited jurisdiction in Washington State by adding "cases" following civil. The motion was seconded and Judge Riehl accepted the motion as a friendly amendment. A vote was taken and the original motion passed as amended.
The policy statement and goal for the courts of limited jurisdiction in Washington State as adopted reads:
A brief discussion followed regarding the election of judges legislation.
It was moved by Judge Riehl and seconded by Judge Nakata to approve the election of judges’ legislation in concept and authorize the CLJ Structure Options Sub-committee to negotiate the final content and language. The motion passed.
Mr. Hall reported that last year SB 5322 proposed an increase to civil jurisdiction from $50,000 to $75,000. It is his recommendation that the bill not be picked-up from last session because of the desire to have concurrent jurisdiction in the contracting bill.
The Board discussed the other aspects of the proposed legislation.
Judge Nakata pointed out that regionalization of courts would allow the public to do all of their court matters at a central location. It would also provide accessibility to the courts at a civil level and not just to pay traffic tickets.
The Board discussed whether the elimination of judicial positions could be tied to the caseload standards. They also discussed the need to reference the caseload standards. They discussed whether a contracting court could possibly contract for more cases than they have judicial officers. Judge Nakata pointed out that the hosting court’s presiding judge has to agree to the terms of the contract. It is assumed that if a contracting court is taking on three FTEs worth of work, but only providing two FTEs, the hosting court would not execute the contract. Several suggestions were made regarding possible amendments to bill section 13 (1) (b) to add language tying the number of judges to the objective workload analysis. Following discussion there was a consensus that Mr. Hall should draft language which will be presented to the Board at the next meeting.
Judge Riehl inquired if it is expected that action is to be taken today or held over to the December 16 meeting. Mr. Hall responded that he needs to begin talks with the Association of Cities in the next few weeks.
It was moved by Judge Riehl and seconded to approve the CLJ legislation in concept and authorize the CLJ Structure Options Sub-committee to negotiate proposed content and language. Judge Fleck offered a friendly motion, which was accepted, to remove the provision that deals with county to city contracting.
CJC Constitutional Amendment
Judge Nakata reported that SJR 8207, changing the composition of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, passed. Judge Nakata recognized the hard work of many judges and legislators over the past several years and, in particular, this past session in seeing the bill and amendment passed.
STOP Grant Report
Justice Madsen pointed out that the STOP Grant provides an opportunity for courts to request grant moneys. She advised that the RFP for projects/programs to be funded in 2006-2007 was posted November 1, 2005. The deadline for the proposals is January 6, 2006.
Access to Justice
Judge Tripp reported that the Board will meet next week. They will be approving CASA’s public legal application, along with designing a process to work with the second year funding provided by the Supreme Court.
Washington State Bar Association
Judge Appelwick advised that the Bar Board of Governors had provided $60,000 to underwrite the "Docket" a new program to air on TVW which will address law and court related issues. The first one is January 1, 2006.
Justice Madsen advised of her attendance at the first-ever minority bar leaders’ conference held in Seattle.
Reports from the Courts
Court of Appeals
Judge Becker reported that Judge Dwyer was elected to Division I, replacing Judge Kennedy. Judge Kurtz has joined the federal bankruptcy court. His position will be filled by gubernatorial appointment.
Judge Cooper reported that work continues with the Sentencing Guidelines Commission. They are gearing up for the legislative session.
Judge Cooper announced that Judge Walter Stauffacher a former Yakima County Superior Court judge and who continued working the aqua vella water case in retirement had passed away in early November.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
Judge Nakata reported that a bill passed last session that subjected courts of limited jurisdiction probation to interstate compact agreements. The DMCJA is asking the Interstate Compact Commission to reconsider an opinion that deferred prosecution agreements are subject to transfer under the compact.
Judge Nakata advised that payment of dues has risen from 69% to 77%. She advised that BJA will be billing judges individually, instead of receiving full payment from the DMCJA dues.
The December 16 meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. with a joint meeting with Court Management Council. That meeting is scheduled to run until noon, with lunch to follow. Immediately following lunch, BJA will meet.
Members were directed to the 2006 meeting schedule.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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