Members present: Chief Justice Gerry L. Alexander, co-chair; Judge Robert McSeveney, co-chair; Judge Marlin Appelwick; Judge Stephen M. Brown; Judge Vickie Churchill; Judge Michael Cooper; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Richard Fitterer; Judge Deborah Fleck; Judge Gerald Knight; Justice Barbara Madsen; Ms. Janet McLane; Judge Alicia Nakata; Judge Linda Portnoy; Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall; Judge James M. Riehl; Judge Evan Sperline; Judge Dennis Sweeney; and Judge Michael Trickey
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair.
Introduction of New Member
Chief Justice Alexander introduced Chief Judge Dennis Sweeney, Division III, Court of Appeals.
Chief Justice Alexander recognized the contributions of Judge Michael Trickey and Judge Evan Sperline.
Washington State Center for Court Research
Ms. McLane introduced Dr. Carl McCurley and Ms. Deana Piazza.
Ms. McLane reported that the Washington State Center for Court Research, established by Supreme Court Order signed September 2004, is ready for launching. The Center will be the research arm of the judiciary. The Center’s goal is to produce research reports and findings that form judicial policy and improve the overall operation of the courts.
Ms. McLane advised that Judge Dennis Sweeney, Division III, Court of Appeals has agreed to chair the Center’s Advisory Board. Judge Alicia Nakata will also serve on the Board. Other appointments to the Board are currently underway.
The Board briefly discussed the possible connection between the Research Center and the Best Practice Committee. They also talked about the Institute for Public Policy and the possibility of partnering with that group in some projects.
Jury Pay Pilot and Research Project
Dr. McCurley announced that site visits have been scheduled with Clark County Superior and District Courts, Benton County Superior and District Courts, and Des Moines Municipal Court to confirm their viability as the pilot sites.
Dr. McCurley reported the juror pay increase for the pilot site will begin in November of 2006 for a period of eight months. Once the increase is in place, the response rate will be tracked. The second part of the pilot is the opinion survey which will focus on juror attitude and factors that influenced the juror’s decision to serve. This portion of the survey will be conducted before and after the pay increase.
The Board discussed the best method for notifying jurors of the pay increase. It was suggested that notification of the increase could possibly be made through the summons procedure by including a flyer or making the pay rate adjustment on the actual summons. Dr. McCurley indicated he would work with the pilot jurisdictions over the summer to determine the best way to advise jurors of the pay increase.
Next, Dr. McCurley reviewed the responses to concerns BJA had about the proposed methodology, in particular the legal aspects of interviewing non-responding jurors. Dr. McCurley pointed out in the first survey component people will not be asked if they showed-up for jury service. He stated there will be no open-ended questions, so the chances for self-incrimination are limited.
Mr. Hall pointed out that in order to convince the legislature that jurors in Washington should be paid more for their service we must be able to present a practical result. That practical result will come from the data collected from the surveys.
The Board briefly discussed the surveys.
Trial Court Improvement Account Report
Mr. Hall reviewed the draft 2005 Trial Court Improvement Account Use Report. He advised the members that every jurisdiction has reported their expenditures and plans. Mr. Hall noted that four counties spent Court Improvement money during 2005 and 11 have a plan to spend the money. Mr. Hall stated that he expects the reports will be more detailed next year, with the real impact measured in two to three years.
The Board discussed the appropriate mechanism for reminding judges about the Trial Court Improvement Account dollars. After discussion, it was agreed that it would be appropriate to send a cover letter addressing the concerns about the use of the Court Improvement dollars along with the Use Report.
Court Funding Implementation Committee
Mr. Hall reported that the Implementation Committee had requested that the four interpreter funding proposals move forward with budget requests. The four proposals include:
Mr. Hall explained the concept behind certified and registered interpreters is to encourage their use and increase the number of available certified and registered interpreters.
Mr. Hall went on to explain that the proposal includes:
Judge Portnoy pointed out that Skagit County has translated the guilty plea form, and possibly others, into Spanish. She suggested scanning in the form to save time and resources.
Judge Trickey stated that the pattern forms can be a complicated issue, so it makes sense for some statewide forms to be translated, but other forms could vary from county-to-county.
Justice Madsen suggested that Seattle University may be able to offer services through their interpreter program.
Judge Trickey stated that the interpreter statute would need amending to ensure that proper distinction is made certified and registered interpreters. He stated that qualified interpreters must conform with state regulations or it could be another issue for appeal.
The Board discussed various aspects of the four court interpreter proposals. Mr. Hall advised he anticipates bringing the final budget decision package to the Board in June. The BJA would then make a request to the Supreme Court to include the recommended decision package in AOC’s budget.
Mr. Hall said the separate issues that may move forward are: 1) election of all municipal court judges; and 2) city-to-city contracts for municipal services. Mr. Hall recommended that the Board ask the legislature, Representative Lantz in particular, to convene a group to begin working on fleshing out what the regional court and the enabling legislation might look like.
A brief discussion followed.
The Board next discussed the election of all municipal court judges. Mr. Hall indicated there is not a great deal of interest in the election issue in the legislature, so it is up to the courts to continue the education process. Mr. Hall indicated he would begin making the necessary legislative contacts.
Trial Court Coordination Council Grants
Mr. Hall reported that the grant selection committee had met yesterday. He said the committee has decided which proposals will be funded, but have not established the level of funding. The committee anticipates notifying the courts in the next week.
Justice Madsen advised that consideration was being given to awarding STOP grant money by the Gender and Justice Commission to supplement the TCCC grant funds for one of the TCCC projects.
Court Security Committee
Mr. Hall reported that Judge Paula Casey had been selected as chair of the Court Security Committee at its first meeting the end of March. The Committee’s next in-person meeting is the end of April. In between in-person meetings, the Committee will meet via conference call.
Chief Justice Alexander explained the Board is just being provided information at this point.
The Board discussed the appropriate group to conduct a study on the collateral consequences. After a brief discussion, it was agreed that collateral consequences be carried over to the May meeting.
Report from the Courts
Court of Appeals
Judge Brown stated it may be time to revisit unpublished opinions. Chief Justice Alexander offered that the United State Supreme Court ruled that unpublished opinions can be cited in federal court. Judge Quinn-Brintnall pointed out the issue had been before the Court Rules and Procedures Committee. She went on to say that if unpublished opinions are citable they should be prospective not retrospective. She also pointed out that if cites to unpublished opinions are only made by attaching the unpublished opinion, the court would not to know about other unpublished opinions.
Judge Sweeney stated he had collected material on published/unpublished opinions. He pointed out that unpublished opinions are available through Westlaw. He said that law clerks are looking at them, along with lawyers, and he believes that unpublished opinions are influencing the law.
Chief Justice Alexander stated that if the Supreme Court decided to go forward, all levels of court will be consulted.
Judge Trickey thanked the members for their support during his term on BJA. He indicated that Judge Cooper would take over as SCJA President during their Spring Conference.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
Judge Nakata had no report, as their Board had not met since the last BJA meeting.
Judge Sperline thanked the members of the Board. He stated that he enjoyed his term. He expressed great admiration for the people serving on the Board and the competence of the AOC staff.
Ms. McLane reported the Ethics Advisory Committee is sponsoring two judicial candidate forums; one on May 10 in Seattle and the other on May 11 in Spokane.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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