Members Present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, Chair; Judge Robert McSeveney, Co-chair; Judge Marlin Appelwick (by phone); Mr. M. Wayne Blair; Judge Stephen Brown; Judge Vickie Churchill; Judge Michael Cooper; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Richard Fitterer; Judge Deborah Fleck; Judge James Hutton; Justice Barbara Madsen; Ms. Jan Michels; Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall; Judge Stephen Shelton; and Mr. Butch Stussy
The meeting was called to order by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander.
State of the Judiciary Address
The State of the Judiciary Address will be delivered at noon today and this will be Chief Justice Alexander’s fourth State of the Judiciary. He will introduce Judge Stephen Brown as the Presiding Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, Judge Michael Cooper as the President of the Superior Court Judges’ Association (SCJA), and Judge Richard Fitterer as the President of the District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association (DMCJA). Chief Justice Alexander will also mention Judge Robert McSeveney as the Board for Judicial Administration (BJA) Co-chair. He will acknowledge the BJA members and would like everyone to stand when indicated. The speech should last about a half-hour and will focus on the Justice In Jeopardy and Judicial Information System (JIS) budget requests.
Welcome and Introductions
Chief Justice Alexander welcomed everyone in attendance. He also introduced Mr. Butch Stussy as the permanent State Court Administrator. He is a long-time Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) employee and has worked in a number of AOC departments over the years along with other state agencies. One of Mr. Stussy’s first acts as State Court Administrator was to name Mr. Jeff Hall as Deputy Administrator. He also named Mr. Dirk Marler as the Director of the Judicial Services Division and Ms. Mary Carol LaPalm as the Director of Human Resources.
Trial Court Coordination Report
The Trial Court Coordination Progress Report Summary was distributed for review. The report summarizes King County’s project to hold a conference regarding juveniles in courts of limited jurisdiction; Kitsap County’s trial court coordination planning; Kittitas County’s development of cross-court pro se assistance; Pierce County’s effort to reconcile cross-court issuance of protection orders; and Skagit County’s effort to reconcile cross-court issuance of protection orders.
Long-range Planning Mission, Vision, and Principles
Judge McSeveney reported on the BJA Long-range Planning Committee. The committee has drafted a mission statement, vision, principles, and goals that are included in the meeting materials. The Committee is also reviewing uncompleted recommendations from prior task forces and commissions. Once screened, the uncompleted recommendations will be categorized under the draft principles and goals for prioritization.
Governor’s Budget Proposal
Chief Justice Alexander reported that, as required, the judicial branch budget requests were provided to the Governor for inclusion in her budget submission to the Legislature. Statute provides that the Governor must transmit the judicial branch budget submission to the Legislature without revision. This year, the Governor added the following notes to her budget for both the AOC and the Office of Public Defense (OPD).
In effect, the Governor stated that while the AOC and OPD budgets are not revisable, her recommendation would be to revise them. Chief Justice Alexander indicated his concern and that this issue had been discussed by the Supreme Court En Banc. The Court will address this issue with the Governor through appropriate means.
Mr. Jeff Hall reported that the Benton County District Court judge position bill is currently on hold. There were local issues about courtroom facility funding that took precedence so the District Court has not yet addressed the new judge request with the Benton County Board of Commissioners.
The bill to create a new judge position in San Juan County Superior Court has been introduced in both the House (HB 1269) and the Senate (SB 5247). The bill would keep the two existing judge positions in Island County Superior Court and create a third judge position serving San Juan County as a single county judicial district.
Last night, the BJA Legislative Executive Committee discussed the bill regarding the election of municipal court judges. Senator Adam Kline will introduce a bill in the Senate which merges the election bill and the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) supported contracting bill from last session. It was decided that the BJA’s approach should be to support the entire bill with the election piece included. It is expected that Representative Roger Goodman will introduce a contracting bill in the House.
The Courthouse Security Committee determined they will pursue the Courthouse Security legislation but would like to drop the court rule language.
The judicial retirement account Senate bill should be ready for introduction this week. Work on finding sponsors for the House version continues.
Mr. Hall is looking for one more sponsor on the photo enforcement of toll violations Senate bill so it can be dropped. The House bill was dropped yesterday as HB 1373.
Representative Pat Lantz has asked that our interpreter bill not be introduced in the House. She will introduce a policy bill which includes additional policy issues and our proposal for state funding. The correct course of action is to honor that request. Mr. Hall is still working on finding sponsors for the Senate version of the bill.
A presentation was made to the House Judiciary Committee last week regarding the Justice In Jeopardy funding requests and it went very well. At the Appropriations Sub-committee on General Government hearing yesterday, Justice In Jeopardy pieces were talked about along with the judicial branch agency and court budgets.
Chief Justice Alexander reported that he, along with Judge Brown, Judge Cooper, and Judge Fitterer all testified at the recent Salary Commission meeting. Chief Justice Alexander made the opening statement and described the duties of Supreme Court justices and the other judges followed suit. Chief Justice Alexander concluded by presenting the BJA’s position as adopted at the December Board meeting expressing support for a COLA increase and a 1% per year increase to move toward parity with the federal judiciary.
Chief Justice Alexander reported that the presentation appeared to be well received. In particular, the Commission expressed continued interest and concern with the number of state judges leaving service to join the federal bench.
Access to Justice Board
There was no report for January.
Justice Barbara Madsen reported on Supreme Court personnel changes.
Mr. Ronald Carpenter was hired to replace Supreme Court Clerk C. J. Merritt.
Court of Appeals
Judge Brown reported for the Court of Appeals, Division III. Judge Kenneth Kato is resigning from Division III at end of this month. Also in Division III, Commissioner Jay Bromme was sworn in. General Court of Appeals matters are ensuring the travel reimbursement issue is resolved.
Judge Marlin Appelwick indicated there was nothing of note to report on for Division I. The marriage bill and travel bill both have sponsors.
Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall reported that Division II is working on balancing workloads and maximizing efficiency in an effort to avoid a backlog caused by continued excess capacity caseload.
Superior Court Judges’ Association
Judge Cooper reported that the SCJA is busy responding to legislative measures. Two significant issues for the SCJA are:
Judge Fleck reported on judicial retirement. The SCJA has been working hard for many months to find an acceptable formula to allow judges to buy service credit. They considered a number of approaches and ran them through the State Actuary and the Select Committee on Pension Policy. Judge Fleck indicated that this will continue to be a moving target as they work through the legislative process.
District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association
Judge Fitterer reported that the Court Rules Committee reviewed the JIS proposal and found one scriveners error, a reduction of $5 instead of an increase, which has been corrected.
The Court Rules Committee has drafted a second version of the Arraignment Rule that largely parallels the Superior Court Rule. The new draft was forwarded to the full Board for consideration and the Board unanimously voted their support for the new draft.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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