Board for Judicial Administration
Members Present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, Co-chair; Judge Robert McSeveney, Co-chair; Judge Marlin Appelwick; Mr. Stanley Bastian; Judge Stephen Brown; Judge Michael Cooper, Judge Vickie Churchill; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Richard Fitterer; Judge Deborah Fleck; Judge Larry McKeeman; Justice Barbara Madsen; Judge Linda Portnoy; Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall; Judge James Riehl; and Judge Stephen Shelton
Guests Present: Justice Mary Fairhurst, Ms. Roni Booth, Ms. Pam Daniels, Ms. Telma Hauth, and Mr. Paul Sherfey
Staff Present: Ms. Wendy Ferrell, Ms. Beth Flynn, Mr. Doug Haake, Mr. Jeff Hall, Mr. Dirk Marler, Ms. Regina McDougall, and Ms. Janet Skreen
Welcome and Introductions
The meeting was called to order by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander.
Chief Justice Alexander was pleased to introduce a new member of the BJA, Judge Larry McKeeman from Snohomish County Superior Court who is completing the term of Judge Gerald Knight.
It was moved by Judge Michael Cooper and seconded by Judge Sara Derr to approve the January 17, 2007 minutes. The motion carried.
Proposed BJA Bylaw Amendment
Judge Deborah Fleck reported that it has been the general understanding that the BJA Co-chair would be elected from trial court levels. Judge Fleck has a letter from Judge Robert Harris, who was present when the BJA committee membership was reconstituted, and the letter confirms that general understanding but the Bylaws don’t contain that language. Judge Fleck wants to raise the issue now so it doesn’t occur at a time when elections are taking place. Her proposal is that we clarify in the Bylaws the original intent.
Justice Madsen has an issue she wants to include if the Board goes forward with Judge Fleck’s proposal. She would like the amendment to indicate that the Member-chair appointment will rotate between the Superior Court Judges’ Association and the District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association.
Judge Marlin Appelwick expressed concern about the Executive Committee membership resulting from this Bylaws change. He doesn’t care who Co-chairs the BJA but this changes the Executive Committee membership to three trial court representatives and two appellate court representatives. Changing the Executive Committee membership to guarantee a lock bothers him.
Judge Riehl tends to support Justice Madsen in the fact that the notion was that the Co-chair would alternate between the two associations. Judge Riehl stated he was there when the first Co-chair was elected and no one knew who would be the chair. It was much more symbolic then. New members actually thought it was part of the Bylaws even though it wasn’t. Culturally, it was symbolic. There was very little thought about the Executive Committee membership.
This issue will be an action item for March.
It was moved by Judge Fleck and seconded by Judge McKeeman to amend the Bylaws as stated behind Tab 2 (after “A Member chair” add “, who shall be one of the voting members representing either the Superior Court Judges’ Association or the District and Municipal Court Judges’ Association,”) with an option of adding the alternating concept that Justice Madsen mentioned.
A new draft of the proposed amendment capturing the intent of the motion above will be distributed prior to the next Board Meeting.
Public Trust and Confidence Committee Presentation
Justice Mary Fairhurst presented the Annual Report of the Public Trust and Confidence Committee. In 2006 the Committee distributed the Media Guide to Washington Courts to help journalists better understand the Washington court system. The Guide is available online and copies are available through the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). The Committee also gave presentations at the County Clerks and District and Municipal Court Managers conferences.
The Judicial Education Outreach Subcommittee reviewed the Judges in the Classroom (JITC) and We the People outreach educational programs. The Executive Summary in the Annual Report identifies multiple suggestions for enhancing both programs. The Subcommittee will work with AOC staff to secure grant funding to implement the suggestions.
The Committee members did an excellent job in creating the Pro Se Litigant Information sheet for superior court civil matters. The plan is to make this available to the courts electronically so they can personalize it and use it as needed.
The Committee is asking for the BJA’s approval for their projects. If the BJA gives their approval, then the Committee will present the information to the Court Management Council (CMC) and the County Clerks’ Association.
The final project for 2006 is an information sheet about the three branches of government including an organizational chart outlining how the various branches of government interact. If this meets with the BJA’s approval then the Committee will work with a graphic designer on the layout. Funding for this project has been incorporated into the AOC Public Information budget.
Committee projects for 2007 include:
• Creating a Pro Se sheet for DMCJA courts.
• Adapting the California Judicial Council’s What’s Happening in Court activity book for use in Washington State. It is a children’s activity book explaining court procedures for children going to court.
• Working on the Juror Commission recommendations which would include creating a sub-subcommittee to work on the juror summons and create an exit survey to focus on juror recommendation #43. The Committee will also provide public outreach focusing on the Juror Commission recommendations and develop Juror Appreciation Week materials.
Justice Fairhurst hopes that next spring she will be reporting back to the BJA on all three items. As always, she welcomes the BJA’s suggestions and feedback.
It was moved by Justice Madsen and seconded by Judge Fleck to approve the report presented by the Public Trust and Confidence Committee. The motion carried.
Mr. Jeff Hall distributed copies of the BJA’s current legislative positions. Mr. Hall gave a quick overview of some of the legislation that the BJA is tracking.
SHB 1001/SHB 5038 - Auto theft. The current house bill would increase traffic infraction penalties by $10 to fund auto theft prevention activities. Mr. Hall has testified regarding the Board’s concerns about the traffic infraction penalty increase.
HB 1269/SB 5247 - Superior Court Judge Position for Island/San Juan. This bill is doing well in both the House and Senate.
HB 1373/SB 5391 - Photo enforcement. This bill is moving as well in both the House and Senate and the outcome is looking pretty good.
HB 2176/SB 6005 - Interpreter services. Representative Patricia Lantz introduced the bill in the House. Senator Paull Shin introduced it in the Senate. This bill was introduced in lieu of BJA request legislation.
HB 2177 – Definition of a weapon (from the Security Committee). This bill has a hearing next week. A Senate companion on that bill was not introduced.
HJR 4214 – Election of judges. This bill has a hearing on Tuesday and the Board needs to take action on it since there won’t be an Executive Committee prior to the hearing.
HB 2150 – Appointment of judges. This bill allows for a nominating commission to oversee the appointment of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges. Basically, it is a Missouri Plan. There is a House Judiciary hearing on this bill Tuesday. Since the Executive Committee won’t meet until Tuesday night, the Board needs to take action on this bill.
In the past, the BJA has taken no position on similar bills. The reason is that the legislation was likely to be challenged in court and the BJA didn’t think it was appropriate to take a position. These bills are different because they change the Constitution.
Mr. Stan Bastian stated that the WSBA does not have a position on this bill. The Bar has a task force on this issue which was started last year. They have not issued their report and the Bar is not going to take a position until after they issue their report which most likely won’t be until after the legislative session.
It was moved by Judge Churchill and seconded by Judge Derr that the BJA oppose HB 2150. The motion carried with one member opposing the motion.
Mr. Hall asked who would come testify on Tuesday. Judge Churchill, Chief Justice Alexander and Judge Shelton volunteered.
SB 5353 – Municipal courts. Mr. Hall gave a quick update on the election of municipal court judges bill. This bill has not been set for Executive Session yet. When it is exec’d out of committee there will be an amendment striking out the election provision. Two new amendments will be added. One is elections for cities with populations over 10,000. The other would establish a new appointive selection process. Judges would be reapplying for their job every four years.
Judge Derr moved and Judge Fleck seconded that the BJA support the population limits as long as the BJA conditions it with aggregate population requiring an election. The motion carried and was opposed by one member.
Chief Justice Alexander reported on his meeting with the Governor regarding the budget. The Governor is required by statute, and Chief Justice Alexander would argue by Constitution, to send the judicial branch budgets to the Legislature unrevised. While the budget bill contained all of the funding requested by the judicial branch, the Governor included two notes in the budget recommendations summary document recommending reductions to the judicial branch budget.
Chief Justice Alexander and Mr. Butch Stussy met with the Governor and Mr. Victor Moore on Wednesday. The Governor indicated that while she was generally sympathetic with what the Court said, she did not feel the Court had “scrubbed” the numbers enough.
The Governor was concerned about the budget for the Office of Public Defense (OPD). The OPD is asking for a lot of money to beef up that office and Chief Justice Alexander thinks appropriately so. The Governor wants the Court to provide more oversight of the budget request for the OPD. Chief Justice Alexander told the Governor that in the future the Supreme Court would take a closer look at the OPD budget. Mr. Stussy and Mr. Moore will work together and take a closer look at those procedures. Overall, it was a good meeting and they reached a general agreement everyone can live with.
UFC Principles Workgroup Proposal
Judge Michael Cooper stated Representative Ruth Kagi contacted the SCJA last summer to let them know she was going to introduce a Unified Family Court (UFC) bill during the 2007 legislative session. The SCJA Family and Juvenile Law Committee (FJLC) tried to develop a court rule for adoption in lieu of the proposed legislation.
Ms. Janet Skreen distributed a history of the UFC movement which started in 1999. The SCJA agonized over this rule. HB 1780 is a one size fits all UFC proposal. Judge Cooper testified against the bill along with Judge Jill Johanson.
The SCJA is asking the BJA to create a work group to reassess the UFC best practices, since the BJA adopted them, and try to find some practical solutions along with the best ways to implement them throughout the state. The work of the work group would be completed this fall. The SCJA envisions this work group would meet three or four times and make a report at the Fall Conference.
Chief Justice Alexander said Justice Bobbe Bridge spoke to him late yesterday afternoon and she was hoping this proposal could be put over at least a month. She chairs the Washington State Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care and they have a committee working on this issue. She was concerned about having two committees working on different tracks. The Commission is amenable to having their committee enlarged and it might be more efficient to have one committee.
Judge Fleck moved and Judge Cooper seconded that we create a work group of the Best Practices Committee, along the lines that Judge Cooper suggested, that would work with the Washington State Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care. A concept will be developed at the next meeting. Whether it’s two groups working on the UFC separately or one merged group. The motion carried.
Commission on Judicial Conduct Proposed Rule Change
Informational materials were distributed regarding the Commission on Judicial Conduct Proposed Rule Change.
Washington State Bar Association
Mr. Bastian reported on the following projects the WSBA is working on:
1. Ms. Jan Michels is retiring and the task force has narrowed the candidate pool down to three candidates and they will interview them next Wednesday. The following week, the Board of Governors (BOG) will take action at their meeting and choose one of those three or they’ll start the search over.
2. The WSBA is working on public defense issues and will release their report next week at the BOG meeting.
Access to Justice Board
Judge Appelwick reported that the Access to Justice Board voted to support the OSPI funding request for civics.
Reports from the Courts
Supreme Court: Justice Barbara Madsen stated the Supreme Court hosted the Allied Daily Newspaper Olympia Day yesterday. Supreme Court Clerk Ron Carpenter has been on board a few weeks and he is recruiting for a deputy. Mr. Walter Burton is the recently-hired Deputy Commissioner.
The Lexis publishing contract is up and the Supreme Court put out a request for bids and received responses from West and Lexis. The Committee on Appellate Reports has just finished the review and submitted the responses to Mr. Tim Fuller.
Mr. Stussy and Justice Madsen have been working together to resolve issues related to the Lexis legal research tool but have nothing to report yet.
Court of Appeals: Judge Stephen Brown reported that in Division III, the Governor is taking a long approach to replacing Judge Kenneth Kato. Most likely, there will not be an appointment until late this spring or early this summer.
Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall stated that Division II was notified by the Department of General Administration (GA) that they want to sell the Rhodes Center. Last Friday, a flood of people were looking at the building. Judge Elaine Houghton and Judge Quinn-Brintnall spoke with the GA about the sale of the building. The Court was informed by letter yesterday that, as a result partially from that discussion, the sale of the building was put on hold.
Superior Court: Judge Cooper reported that the SCJA met with the Governor on January 26 to request a task force be created to complete an independent review of the Sentencing Reform Act (SRA). As a result, HB 2214 was dropped requesting that the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) conduct the study.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction: There was no report from the DMCJA this month.
TVW Letter of Appreciation: A letter of appreciation from TVW for the BJA’s support of The Docket was distributed.
BJA Account Report: The BJA previously authorized an audit of the BJA account and the audit came out okay. Copies of the audit results, as well as the year-end 2006 account information, were distributed to BJA members. Ms. Colleen Clark will draft some procedures for the BJA account for adoption at a future meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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