Members Present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander; Judge Robert McSeveney, Co-chair; Judge Marlin Appelwick; Mr. M. Wayne Blair; Judge Leonard Costello; Judge Ronald Cox; Ms. Ellen Dial; Judge Richard Fitterer; Judge Deborah Fleck; Justice Barbara Madsen; Judge Richard McDermott; Judge Larry McKeeman; Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall; Judge Stephen Shelton; Mr. Butch Stussy; and Judge Dennis Sweeney
Ms. Joan Fairbanks, Ms. Lynn Greiner, Ms. Telma Hauth, and Mr. Paul Sherfey
Welcome and Introductions
Chief Justice Alexander called the meeting to order.
Two new BJA members were welcomed, Judge Richard McDermott, the new President-elect from the SCJA; and Judge Leonard Costello who is back for one-year term as Judge Vickie Churchill moves into the SCJA President’s one-year term.
Ms. Ellen Dial, from the WSBA, was also welcomed.
April 20, 2007 Minutes
Mr. Dirk Marler suggested changes to the wording under the Access to Justice Board report in the April 20, 2007 minutes. He asked that the last sentence in the first paragraph be changed to “The individuals served by the Access to Justice community are more likely to have cases at OAH than in the judicial branch.”
Judge Deborah Fleck requested that her name be added between “with” and “Mr. M. Wayne Blair” to the motion regarding the Justice in Jeopardy Initiative report.
By consensus, the minutes were approved as corrected.
Access to Justice Board Update
Mr. M. Wayne Blair stated that because of the judiciary’s significant involvement in the Access to Justice (ATJ) movement, he felt it was important to talk to the BJA members about the Washington State Access to Justice Board’s newly revised Plan for the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid to Low Income People in Washington State (State Plan).
Mr. Blair introduced Mr. Jim Bamberger, the Director of the Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA); Ms. Joan Fairbanks, Justice Programs Manager for the WSBA and the ATJ Board; and Ms. Lynn Greiner who has been hired by the ATJ Board to help implement the State Plan.
Mr. Blair explained that the Supreme Court created the ATJ Board in 1994 by court order. The ATJ Board was designated by the court as the primary planning body for the delivery of civil legal aid.
The ATJ Board’s mission statement is “Recognizing that access to the civil justice system is a fundamental right, the ATJ Board works to achieve equal access for those facing economic and other significant barriers.”
Mr. Bamberger discussed the 2003 Civil Legal Needs Study’s Principal Findings. At the time of the study, nine out of ten people who needed civil legal help did not get it. The areas of greatest civil legal needs are: housing, family safety and security, employment, consumer, public and municipal services, public benefits and health.
Ms. Fairbanks gave an overview of the 2006 Plan for the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid to Low Income People in Washington State. The State Plan is available at http://www.wsba.org/atj/committees/draftstateplan4706.pdf.
In planning, the ATJ Board concluded that they need to focus on five areas of planning: rural delivery, strengthening pro bono services, client intake/access in King County, access for clients with barriers, and statewide support and infrastructure. The primary focus of the State Plan is rural delivery.
Ms. Greiner presented a map that divided the state into 19 regions with 19 regional planning teams being established in each region. The teams are comprised of representatives from entities that provide services to ATJ clients such as regional ATJ staff, judges, facilitators, clerks, and social service agencies. The teams consist of a range of partners coming together to talk about ATJ issues.
Mr. Blair pointed out that the State Plan was formally approved in May 2006 by the ATJ Board. Day-to-day implementation activities are carried out by the State Plan Oversight Committee, the Civil Legal Aid system investors and statewide and regional Alliance members. Everybody has to buy into the State Plan and work together in order for it to be successful.
Mr. Bamberger noted that the OCLA used the State Plan as the basis for its
FY 2007-09 budget request. As part of the Justice in Jeopardy Initiative, the OCLA requested new funding to establish minimum levels of presence in unserved and underserved rural areas and to fund a unified intake/access system in King County. The objective was to operationalize the State Plan and establish a presence in rural areas.
Mr. Blair stated it would be beneficial for judges to participate in regional planning and service delivery coordination efforts. He also suggested targeting the Trial Court Improvement Account funds for initiatives that enhance access to the civil justice system consistent with regional delivery plans and the use of such funds by trial courts. Judges can support efforts to expand pro bono programs along with efforts to expand state funding for civil legal aid. In addition, judges can work to reduce barriers to access for unrepresented litigants and those who experience physical, sensory, cultural or linguistic obstacles to the justice system.
Judge Fleck asked if there could be some provision made through the WSBA to cover malpractice insurance which would allow retired judges and attorneys to create a pool for pro bono services. In response to Judge Fleck, it was stated that the WSBA currently has an Emeritus Attorney Program in which retired attorneys can practice on a volunteer basis for a qualified legal services provider and be covered by malpractice insurance. There are currently over 100 retired or inactive attorneys participating.
Judge Christine Quinn-Brintnall stated there is currently a court rule being considered by the WSBA Court Rules and Procedures Committee that will allow the court to waive, uniformly, filing fees for indigent defendants represented by qualified legal services providers. The Committee will review the proposed court rule and, if approved, the rule will go to the Board of Governors. Judge Quinn-Brintnall will route the proposed court rule to the ATJ Board presenters.
Chief Justice Alexander stated that the creation of the ATJ Board was originally requested by the WSBA. The Supreme Court agreed to establish the Board but specified that the WSBA would be responsible for funding. Over the years, the Supreme Court became more supportive of the ATJ Board and the WSBA really rose to the challenge they were given in 1994. In 2005, the Legislature approved $200,000 through the AOC’s budget to help fund the ATJ Board for the biennium and that funding level was in the budget again for the upcoming biennium. The WSBA continues to fund the ATJ Board in significant amounts but it was a compliment to the WSBA that the Legislature, through AOC, provided partial funding for the ATJ Board.
Chief Justice Alexander said he is really excited about the addition of legal services providers in rural sites. They need that service desperately in those smaller communities.
Judge Marlin Appelwick added that it is really the start of the second generation of legal services in the state. State money is now up at a level that almost replaces what was cut by the federal government. It is tremendous because when people said we needed to do this, the Bar listened, nurtured, responded and the courts supported that. The ATJ Board needs to be proud those efforts have paid off on what has been a long march to build the funding back up to the current levels. The Legislature can’t be thanked enough for providing the funding.
Chief Justice Alexander acknowledged that most BJA members were probably familiar with the Salary Commission judicial salary recommendations. However, given the final result, the Chief felt that a summary of the process would be of interest to the Board.
Mr. Hall reported on the May 15 Salary Commission meeting. Mr. Hall was joined at the meeting by Judge Ronald Culpepper, Judge Elaine Houghton, Judge Eileen Kato and Judge Michael Trickey. The meeting began in the morning with a summary of the revenue forecast. The financial outlook was good and it was noted that general state employees would receive significant pay increases throughout the biennium.
Prior to breaking for lunch, one Commission member noted that the proposed judicial salary increases were less than the Executive and Legislative branches. Another member suggested that a 3% to 3.5% increase for in the first year would be appropriate. Following the lunch break, Commission Member Dale Carlisle, former WSBA President, recommended that an increase of 3.5% should be considered. Discussion ensued at the end of which a commission member suggested that, in addition to the COLA, the judiciary receive an additional 3.5% for both years. This was followed immediately by a motion and vote adopting the motion.
It is Chief Justice Alexander’s belief that the judiciary faired well as a result of their polished presentation to the Commission. The BJA always has representatives attending the meetings and they have brief conversations with the Commission members before, during and after the meetings and those conversations have made a difference.
Mr. Hall stated this will be first year that cities that are eligible for Trial Court Improvement Account (TCIA) funding will have to increase their municipal court judges’ salaries in order to continue to receive the TCIA funding because they have to remain within 95% of the district court judges’ salaries.
Chief Justice Alexander pointed out that the BJA needs to be aware of the salaries that are tied to the judicial salaries regulated by the Salary Commission.
BJA Dues Payments
Mr. Hall gave a brief update on the number of judges who still owe BJA dues. There are 25 SCJA members who have not paid dues and 45 DMCJA members who still owe dues. Mr. Hall will distribute the lists to the association presidents.
2007 Legislative Session Wrap-Up
Mr. Hall reported that little had changed since the legislative wrap-up presented at the April meeting. Mr. Hall distributed a list of a number of bills of interest to members of the BJA.
Significantly, the Office of Public Guardianship (OPG) bill moved from being an independent office to establishing it within the AOC. In addition, the Governor vetoed the section of the bill that created an oversight committee. The veto was not expected and was apparently based on a general screening by the Governor’s Office staff looking to limit the number of committees. The veto message indicated that the committee was not necessary as the Office was created within the AOC under the oversight of the Supreme Court.
AOC staff will present alternative structures for OPG within AOC to the Supreme Court at the June En Banc. The status of OPG within AOC will likely be reassessed should the two-year pilot period suggest expansion statewide.
The other significant change since April was the final version of 2SSB 5470, the dissolution bill. In adopting the final bill, the Legislature made the court liaison and mediation requirements subject to available funding. The final budget provided funding for developing family court liaison training materials, reimbursement for distributing the family law handbook, limited GAL services for the indigent, and data collection. In addition, funds were allocated to the Supreme Court to convene a task force with duties outlined in the final bill.
Chief Justice Alexander noted that the requested interpreter funding was $7 million and they received $2 million. Right now, the state is not contributing at all to interpreter costs and for the first time the state is making an investment for interpreters. While it would be ideal to have more interpreter funding, this is a great beginning.
It was also pointed out that the jury research project was funded. From what Chief Justice Alexander hears, it’s really showing that there is less of a problem with people responding to their jury summons now that they are compensated at a higher level.
Chief Justice Alexander shared with the Board an e-mail received from Judge Gordon Godfrey which the Chief felt the Board should see. In the e-mail Judge Godfrey expresses his opinion that leadership is not being provided for the state judiciary.
Judge Fleck indicated that she has corresponded frequently with Judge Godfrey and one of the things she suggested to him is during the Justice in Jeopardy retreat, they could look at updating the information they use for judicial position funding. Judge Godfrey has been working with the AOC to develop the cost of a judicial unit. At the retreat, they can consider adding a judicial unit and talk about AOC developing some bullet points or some analysis that judges can turn to in counties when they are dealing with commissioner issues.
Member Chair Election
Judge McSeveney explained that in accordance with the Bylaws, the Board is chaired by the Chief Justice along with a Member chair. Nominations and elections for the Member chair position will take place at the June meeting for the new term to begin in July.
Justice Barbara Madsen asked for list of eligible BJA members for the Member chair position. Mr. Hall will send an e-mail regarding the eligibility requirements for this position and who is eligible. Nominations will also be accepted at the June meeting.
Proposed amendment to CJCRP 11
Chief Justice Alexander briefly shared materials he received regarding a proposed amendment to CJCRP 11 which was included in the meeting materials. Basically, the change is internal to the Commission on Judicial Conduct. If anyone has comments, there is a public hearing on June 8 at the Holiday Inn and Suites in SeaTac or written comments can be submitted.
Washington State Bar Association
Ms. Ellen Dial updated the Board on the following WSBA projects:
Ms. Dial also discussed WSBA efforts to get lawyers and judges more involved in pro bono opportunities. Ms. Karen Mathis, ABA President, provided an interesting fact when she was in Washington State recently: it is estimated that of the roughly 900,000 practicing attorneys in the United States today, 400,000 of them will be retiring within the next ten years (approximately 40,000 a year). Law schools are graduating 35,000 law students a year and approximately 75% go on to practice law. (These numbers are under review.)
Chief Justice Alexander asked about the progress of the WSBA committee that is looking into the way judges are elected in Washington. Ms. Dial reported that the task force is scheduled to report to the Board of Governors in July. She is not sure if there will be a recommendation during that meeting but there will be a report. The BOG established that task force prior to the last election cycle. Judge Fitterer stated the majority report will favor merit selection and retention elections. The minority report will favor elections as we have them now.
Access to Justice Board
Mr. Blair indicated he had nothing further to report following his earlier update on the ATJ Board’s State Plan and activities.
Reports from the Courts
Supreme Court: Justice Barbara Madsen stated that the Department of Personnel is reviewing the salaries of those staff positions in the Supreme Court not addressed in the 2006 salary survey. The Department of Personnel recently completed a similar review for the Court of Appeals.
The Pattern Jury Instructions Committee is collaborating with the WSBA and West Publishing to place the pattern jury instructions on the web.
Judges will soon receive invitations from the Gender and Justice Commission to apply for domestic violence training funding.
The Gender and Justice Commission, in collaboration with Seattle University, presented the National Association of Women Judges’ Program “The Color of Justice” at Seattle University School of Law on May 16. Sixty students of color participated in a half-day presentation highlighting legal career opportunities. The student speaker, Ms. Lena Madden, was extremely inspirational. Several state and tribal judges were panelists as well.
Court of Appeals: Judge Ronald Cox shared that there will be a memorial service for Judge J. Benjamin McInturff and Judge George T. Shields on Friday, May 25 at 2 p.m. in the Kathryn K. Barbieri Courtroom at Gonzaga University School of Law.
Judge Appelwick announced that Judge Cox is receiving the Judge of the Year Award from the King County Washington Women Lawyers on June 13 in Seattle.
Judge Debra Stephens was appointed to fill retired Judge Kenneth Kato’s position in Division III.
Superior Courts: Judge Richard McDermott reported the SCJA’s Long-Range Planning Conference will be held in LaConner on June 9 and 10. Ms. Janet McLane will help facilitate development of a five-year plan. Judge Churchill gave a wonderful and inspiring presentation outlining her hopes for the future and the benefits to the Association of working under a five-year plan.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction: Judge Fitterer reported that the DMCJA held a successful and well-organized Long Range Planning Retreat, thanks to the efforts of President-Elect Stephen Shelton and Mr. Doug Haake.
The WSBA requested that the comment period for the Proposed Arraignment Rule be extended. There was no objection. The DMCJA wants a full discussion for a Rule that assures due process while dealing with the issue of limited resources.
Administrative Office of the Courts: Mr. Butch Stussy reported that an AOC all staff meeting was held yesterday emphasizing the importance of the JIS Roadmap Project to the courts. The project belongs to the courts and AOC is needed to implement the project. The meeting was held in the courtroom at the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Alexander commented that it was interesting to see how few AOC staff had been in the Temple of Justice. He estimated that about half of the employees had never been to the Temple of Justice. Chief Justice Alexander led a tour of the Temple of Justice for interested AOC staff after the meeting.
Ms. Pam Daniels stated that the clerks will be absent from the June 15 BJA meeting due to their annual conference. This is Ms. Daniels’ last BJA meeting and one of the highlights of being the WSACC President is attending the BJA meetings. Ms. Daniels thanked the BJA for allowing her to participate in the meetings.
Ms. Telma Hauth announced that this is also her last meeting and she thanked the BJA for allowing her association to participate in the meetings.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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