Members Present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, Chair; Judge Vickie Churchill, Member Chair; Judge Leonard Costello; Judge Sara Derr; Judge Susan Dubuisson; Judge Deborah Fleck; Justice Barbara Madsen; Judge Richard McDermott; Judge Larry McKeeman; Judge Robert McSeveney; Judge Marilyn Paja; Judge Linda Portnoy; Judge John Schultheis; and Judge Stephen Shelton
Chief Justice Alexander called the meeting to order.
September 16, 2007 Minutes
Washington State Family and Juvenile Court Improvement Plan
Judge Trickey reported that the SCJA Board of Trustees endorsed the Washington State Family and Juvenile Court Improvement Plan at its most recent meeting. Judge Trickey made a presentation regarding the Improvement Plan at the Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care meeting last week so they are aware of the plan. Judge Trickey also met with Representative Ruth Kagi regarding the Implementation Plan and she is favorable.
Mr. Hall explained that Representative Kagi’s staff will draft policy legislation and there will also be a funding request to support that plan. Mr. Hall hopes some of the flexible funding will be included in Representative Kagi’s plan. The Washington State Family and Juvenile Court Improvement Plan won’t be passed by the Legislature but hopefully Representative Kagi’s legislation will be based on this plan.
Judge Trickey added that Representative Kagi will most likely work with the SCJA to draft the legislation. Representative Kagi led them to believe there might be some funding as long as they don’t ask for too much. Mr. Hall assumes $1 to $1.5 million could come out of this session.
Chief Justice Alexander stated that the Supreme Court did not put anything in their budget proposal regarding the Implementation Plan, because they did not feel like they had enough information to include it in their budget at this point in time. It can be added in the future if needed. Mr. Hall is working on the numbers to give to the Supreme Court Budget Committee so they’ll have enough information to act on, if necessary, in the future.
Judge Churchill thanked Judge Trickey, Ms. McDougall and their work group for coming up with a very innovative product.
Court Funding Implementation Committee
Mr. Hall stated that the Court Funding Implementation Committee met Monday and their agenda consisted primarily of looking at the recommendations brought forth from the Justice in Jeopardy (JIJ) retreat. There will be a recommendation coming from the committee renaming the group and there remains some work to be done on the charter and the committee membership. By the December BJA meeting, they hope to have things lined up to ask for BJA approval in terms of reorganization, revising the charter, etc.
They also recommended the creation of a BJA committee to develop trial court operations funding proposals. Mr. Hall hopes the BJA can approve this group to get people named to the new committee.
Renaming the Court Funding Implementation Committee to the Justice in Jeopardy Implementation Committee would very likely be an interim step until JIJ is funded. Then, if the committee should continue, they will probably rename it again in five to six years.
The following motion was tabled until the November BJA meeting:
Justice Madsen asked what the differences are between the committees. Mr. Hall explained that the Trial Court Operations Funding Committee would be a working committee collaborating with AOC staff to develop budget proposals. The committee would work on all the details of putting a funding proposal together. They would not have the Justice in Jeopardy Implementation Committee vet the information—that would be the job of the Trial Court Operations Funding Committee.
Judge Fleck added that the Justice in Jeopardy Implementation Committee would be the larger group making recommendations to the BJA.
Justice Madsen asked why the Trial Court Operations Funding Committee is not just a subcommittee of the JIJ implementation Committee. Why should they report directly to the BJA? Mr. Hall stated the Trial Court Operations Funding Committee would report to the BJA because the trial court operations piece would be approved by BJA.
Judge Paja requested a flow chart showing the approval process for both committees so BJA members would understand the role of each committee. Mr. Hall indicated he would provide the flow chart.
Mr. Hall announced that he hired Ms. Mellani McAleenan as the Executive Director of Policy and Planning and her primary responsibility will be relations work in both the executive and legislative branches. Mr. Hall will remain significantly involved this legislative session. Ms. McAleenan worked with the Association of Washington Business (AWB) prior to being hired by AOC.
Internet Access to Court Records
Judge Shelton stated that the DMCJA Board wants to ensure that domestic violence victims are protected with regard to the type of court record information available on the Internet. In discussing this issue, the DMCJA realized it is too large an issue to decide only in the DMCJA and recommended that the BJA review the issue further. It needs to be vetted at the BJA level instead of at the court association level.
Judge Churchill said the SCJA stands with the DMCJA and agrees that the BJA should consider this. There is potential for violence with foreign protection orders and potential for violence with local protection orders.
It was moved by Judge Churchill and seconded by Judge Shelton that the BJA establish a statewide group to study the practical implications of making protection orders available on the Internet, and to make recommendations about whether protection orders should be subject to general rules about accessibility of court records.
Chief Justice Alexander asked if the Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR) should conduct this study. He is concerned about the practical aspects of the motion if it passes. It costs money to fund a committee to study the issue and it is practical to use the existing resources of the WSCCR. Judge Churchill said she was okay with that. Judge Shelton wants it vetted at the BJA level.
Judge Fleck asked if the BJA should be working with the Judicial Information System Committee on this issue. Mr. Hall stated that it makes sense for all three groups to coordinate.
Mr. Hall stated he could figure out what it will cost to staff a proposal like this. He suggested choosing a BJA meeting in the future and adding two hours onto the end of it to bring people in from the various groups and have a discussion to decide if we need to move forward and costs, etc.
Judge McDermott stated the discussion needs to involve the WSBA Family Law Committee.
It was also suggested that the WSCCR could gather some initial data and bring it back to the BJA at a future meeting. Then, the BJA would have information to present to the Data Dissemination Committee.
Justice Madsen agreed that in order to have a policy discussion it would be useful to have information.
Judge Fleck added a friendly amendment—that the BJA establish an ad hoc subcommittee to identify questions and issues related to the availability of protection order information on the Internet for submission to the WSCCR for further study.
Motion as amended:
To establish an ad hoc committee of the BJA to identify questions and issues related to the availability of protection order information on the Internet for submission to the WSCCR for further study. The motion carried.
Marriage Dissolution Task Force
Mr. Ruhl presented an update on the Marriage Dissolution Task Force which was created by SSB 5470.
In July, AOC hired Mr. Michael Santana to staff the task force. Membership has been finalized and the task force member list was distributed in the meeting materials. Professor Helen Donigan from Gonzaga University has been appointed interim chair and one of the items at the first meeting on October 30 will be to elect a permanent chair.
The bill requires the task force to make preliminary recommendations by September 2008 and a final report is due to the Legislature by December 2008. Most of the work will be completed by subcommittees that will continue to meet throughout the year.
Access to Justice Board
Mr. Blair reported that the Northwest Justice Project opened a new office in Port Angeles to provide free legal assistance in civil matters to low-income families, individuals, senior citizens and tribal members. They had an open house September 28 with Justice Susan Owens as the featured speaker. Three lawyers and will operate in Clallam and Jefferson counties.
They are also opening a new office in Aberdeen to cover Grays Harbor and Pacific counties and Chief Justice Alexander will be the featured speaker at their open house on October 26. Three lawyers will staff the Aberdeen office.
Another office will be opening in Longview this November. The three new facilities are the direct result of the Legislature’s $5.27 million state funding increase for civil legal aid in the 2007-2009 biennium. The Northwest Justice Project will also be increasing its attorney presence throughout Eastern Washington, and extending its statewide legal hotline to King County later this year.
WSBA Change of Status Fee
The WSBA Board of Governors recently approved an assessment of a $100 status change investigation fee. The fee will defray the costs of the investigation to determine a member’s requirements and eligibility to return to active status from inactive, judicial or emeritus status. The WSBA recently mailed a letter announcing the implementation of the fee effective January 1, 2008.
Ms. Littlewood reported the WSBA Board of Governors addressed the following issues at their September meeting:
The Judicial Selection Task Force is recommending that Washington switch to a commission system and the minority report recommends maintaining the current election system. There will be a future Bar News issue highlighting this subject and continued discussions with stakeholders before any Board action is taken.
Ms. Littlewood announced the following regarding the WSBA:
Reports from Courts
Supreme Court: Justice Madsen reported that Justice Bobbe Bridge will be leaving the Court at the end of the year but she will continue to be the chair of the Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care.
The Supreme Court has been asked to collaborate with the federal court to swear in new attorneys in Tacoma at federal court.
Superior Court Judges’ Association: Judge Churchill reported that the Judicial Retirement Committee is planning to go back for one more legislative session to work out the details of the Judicial Retirement Plan. She also shared that the Sentencing Guidelines Commission and the SCJA both have on-going work group meetings for members to attend.
Judge Hutton Resignation: Judge Hutton has been appointed to the position of U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of Washington and therefore has submitted his letter of resignation from the BJA.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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