Members present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair; Judge Robert McSeveney, co-chair; Judge Marlin Appelwick; Judge Mary Kay Becker; Judge Vickie Churchill; Judge Michael Cooper; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Richard Fitterer (via phone); Judge Deborah Fleck; Judge Stephen Holman; Justice Barbara Madsen; Ms. Janet McLane; Judge Alicia Nakata; Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall; Judge James M. Riehl; and Judge Michael Trickey
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair.
Judge McSeveney announced that Judge Stephen Holman had been appointed to fill the newly created position on the Kitsap County District Court and Commissioner Brett Buckley was appointed to fill the newly created position on the Thurston County District Court.
The guests were introduced by Chief Justice Alexander.
ATJ's Impediments Committee's "Ensuring Access for People with Disabilities: A Guide for Courts"
Judge McSeveney reminded the Board of Judge Ellington's presentation during the January meeting. He also reminded the Board that Judge Ellington had asked for BJA's support of the Guide.
The Board was informed that minor changes had been made to the Guide since the January presentation, but the updated version was not available for distribution. The Board asked that the updated Guide be distributed prior to the March meeting.
Mr. Hall reported that both the toll violations for the Narrows Bridge bill and the bill allowing distributions from the judicial retirement account (JRA) to a former spouse pursuant to a qualified domestic relations order have died.
Juror Compensation Bill
Mr. Hall advised the Board that the juror compensation bill provides for an increase in juror compensation at the superior court level, only. Mr. Hall reminded the Board that BJA, SCJA and DMCJA supported the increased compensation for all jurors, not just jurors at the superior court level.
Mr. Hall advised that because of concerns regarding the disparate treatment of jurors among court levels and potential management problems where all court level jurors are pooled, the BJA Executive Committee had taken a position in opposition to the proposed policy bill and appropriation.
The Board discussed concerns surrounding the differential in juror pay based on the level of court in which they are serving. They also discussed the difficulties that could be encountered when advising a jury pool that the juror's compensation depends upon which level of court they are selected to serve.
The Board also discussed possible options, such as one day/one trial; two day/one trial or paying those jurors in counties where jurors are pulled from a pool setting $15 per day.
It was pointed out that although there is disparity in juror pay that it is unwise to leave the money allocated by the legislature on the table. Further, the disparity can be pointed out during the next legislative session.
Mr. Hall asked the Board for direction; whether they wished to support or oppose the bill.
Brief discussion followed.
Contracting Bill and Election Bill
Mr. Hall provided a brief update on both the election and contacting bills.
Mr. Hall reported that he, along with Chief Justice Alexander and Ron Ward, had met with Speaker Chopp about the election bill. Mr. Hall briefly described that meeting. Chief Justice Alexander added that Speaker Chopp supported the election bill. The Chief suggested that contact with republican members of the house would help to get more votes.
Mr. Hall advised that the Cities are very active in voicing their opposition to the bill with their legislators in an effort to defeat the election bill.
Mr. Hall asked for the authority to act in the best interest of the BJA, when the time is appropriate.
Brief discussion followed. The Board agreed to give Mr. Hall the authority to act in their best interest as it relates to the election bill.
Mr. Hall briefly reviewed other bills of interest.
Pandemic Flu and Court Operations
Judge Trickey advised that King County Executive Ron Sims has directed all county agencies to create a plan in preparation for the possibility of a flu pandemic or major earthquake.
Judge Trickey questioned how these disasters might affect the speedy trial rule, would a hearing on the record be required in every case, and could the Supreme Court issue an order suspending the speedy trial rule for a period of time? Brief discussion followed.
Ms. McLane advised that the National Center for State Courts is investigating what is being done in other states as far as orders, rules, etc. Once compiled, this information will be reported to the Board. Ms. Sweeney provided an outline of information available on-line.
Brief discussion followed, during which it was agreed that time should be designated for providing information during the fall conference joint business meeting and the presiding judges' conference.
Judge Becker informed the Board that this will be her last meeting, as her term as Presiding Chief Judge ends in April. Judge Steve Brown, Division III, will be the next Presiding Chief Judge, with that change taking place during the Appellate Judges' Spring Conference in April.
Judge Trickey advised the Board that Judge Cooper would assume the presidency at their spring conference, the end of April.
Judge Trickey reported the pension bill has moved out of the House and into the Senate; the sentencing reform bill which would have increased discretion did not make it out of the House; and the bill proposed by the sentencing guidelines commission, which the SCJA opposes, had moved out of the House and into the Senate.
Judge Nakata reported that all of the tort liability bills are dead. She indicated those bills were of concern because the presiding judge becomes a named defendant in a probation supervision lawsuit.
The next meeting is scheduled for March 17, beginning at 9:00 a.m. at the SeaTac facility.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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