Members present: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair; Judge James M. Murphy, co-chair; Judge William W. Baker; Mr. Dale Carlisle; Judge Christine Cary; Judge Robert Harris; Judge Stephen Holman; Judge Ronald Kessler; Judge Frank L. Kurtz; Justice Barbara Madsen; Ms. Mary McQueen; Judge Robert McSeveney; Mr. Jan Eric Peterson; Judge James M. Riehl; Judge Michael Roewe; Judge Jay Roof; and Judge Karen Seinfeld
Members absent: Judge Vicki Hogan and Judge James F. Gavin
Guests present: Retired Justice Richard P. Guy; Ms. Jan Michels; Justice Susan Owens; Judge Ted W. Small; Mr. Paul Steere; and Retired Judge Tom Swayze
Staff present: Mr. Gil Austin; Ms. Jude Cryderman; Mr. Doug Haake; Ms. Janet McLane; Mr. Victor Moore; and Ms. Yvonne Pettus
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, co-chair.
It was moved by Judge Roewe and seconded by Judge Kurtz to approve the minutes of the December 15, 2000 meeting as published. The motion passed unanimously.
Information provided to the Salary Commission was distributed to the Board.
Presiding Judges' Conference
After a brief discussion, it was decided that AOC staff would contact the facility, obtain several possible dates and e-mail the information to the Board.
Judicial QualificationsJustice Madsen reported she'd been working with Senator Kline to establish minimum qualifications for judges. Senator Kline's bill will establish the following minimum qualifications for judges:
It was moved by Justice Madsen and seconded by Judge Roewe to support the constitutional amendment setting out the required experience for judges. That is 7 years for trial court judges; 10 years for court of appeals judges and 15 years for supreme court justices.
Discussion followed as to whether the requirement for court of appeals and supreme court should be set at 10 years.
The original motion as amended passed unanimously.
Ms. McLane presented the proposed training plan for "leadership for collaboration building a trial court coordination team." The attendees would be multi-jurisdictional teams of 5-8 members (approximately 50 participants).
Office of Public Defense
Judge Murphy advised the Board of a letter from the Office of Public Defense regarding a proposal for financial support for legislative action on defense costs in cases involving dependencies and terminations in Washington's courts. The governor's budget request included 1.4 million dollars to support such cases.
It was moved by Judge Murphy and seconded by Judge Baker to endorse the Office of Public Defense's proposal for financial support for legislative action on defense costs in cases involving dependencies and terminations in Washington's courts and recommend to the legislature the appropriation requested in the governor's budget. The motion passed unanimously.
REPORTS AND INFORMATION
Best Practices Committee
Ms. Pettus reported the first meeting is scheduled for January 29. The Committee will have a report for the February 16 Board meeting.
Ms. Pettus advised the Board that the final report of the Pierce County Performance Audit will be presented to Pierce County on January 18. She further advised that the audit had been performed by Justice Management Institute and the OAC.
Judge Kessler stated the separation of powers doctrine can be raised up and lowered when we want. He continued, other branches of government have a right to know the business of the courts and check and balances are necessary.
The Board briefly discussed the audit. The Board requested a presentation on the final report at the February meeting.
Judge Murphy advised that both the SCJA and DMCJA took a position against the proposed rule changes. Proposed changes include having fewer than a quorum of Commission members present during the presentation of evidence. Further, proposed changes allows the Commission to make determinations of fact with the participation of panel members who have already made findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a decision without a single Commission member having been present for the presentation of evidence. The same applies if a special master has been appointed.
The motion passed unanimously.
Judge Baker reported the Legislative Committee recommends endorsement of the OAC/JIS truancy petition legislation.
It was moved and seconded that BJA support the addition of truant juveniles into the person database. This requires clerks to enter personal identification information. The motion passed unanimously.
Judge Roewe indicated that the DMCJA was comfortable with the SCJA recommendation regarding small claims appeals on the record. Judge Murphy reported the association has concerns about the quality of the tape recordings. He continued, it's just as easy to have the parties return to provide testimony. Further, the judges would just as soon continue to handle the appeals in the same manner they have been handled in the past.
Mr. Peterson stated the Bar Association took the position the small claims appeals should be left alone.
Brief discussion followed. Judge Murphy stated there's not an overwhelming desire to set aside BJA's decision, so should rain as originally decided in BJA.
Mr. Moore reported the jury fee increase, jury service (2 day/1 trial) and the new judicial position in Benton/Franklin bills have been dropped in. The Project 2001 bills are out from the code reviser. Mr. Moore will obtain the necessary signatures.
Mr. Moore continued, the focus of the session will be the budget problems. The Governor's budget recommends deep cuts in human services. The legislature will have to find $325 million in cuts.
Mr. Peterson reported the Bar's recommendations for legislative action include:
Judge Seinfeld advised the Board of a letter she received from an inmate. The inmate voiced concern over the possible cutbacks to the law libraries provided by the Department of Corrections. The Department has identified the law libraries as one of the areas to be impacted by budget cuts.
Chief Justice Alexander advised the Board that he too had received a letter from the same inmate. He continued, frequently inmates make requests to the State Law Library, so that avenue for receiving legal information will still be available.
The Chief Justice indicated that he had forwarded the letter to Justice Sanders. Mr. Peterson stated the inmate's letter had been referred to the State Bar Prison Committee. Judge Small said the ATJ will correspond with the head of the Department of Corrections.
Mr. Moore advised the Board that a letter had been drafted to the county commissioners in the six counties that are delinquent in their payment of their half of the superior court judges' benefits. Mr. Moore will also make personal contact with those counties.
Justice Madsen reported that Senator McCaslin will introduce a bill requiring Supreme Court Justices be elected from a specific district. Mr. Moore advised the bill will be heard on Thursday, January 18.
Chief Justice Alexander stated the executive committee would like one year to conduct a study of the impact of the districting bill. The Chief Justice suggested he could write a letter on behalf of the Supreme Court and Board for Judicial Administration making that request.systemu>Long-range Planning
Judge Murphy reported he is working with Rick Coplen to identify members for this committee. He continued Mr. Sailer has been contacted regarding facilitating the first meeting of the committee. As soon as Mr. Sailer is available, an agenda will be established and a meeting date set.
Access to Justice
Judge Small stated their next meeting is in conjunction with the Goldmark luncheon.
Judge Small reported the Governor gave some of the dollars saved by welfare reform to ATJ. He continued, in addition to the $10 million request, ATJ will be requesting an additional $2.4 million.
Judge Small ruined the Board that his term expires in May. Anyone interested in membership on the Board should provide their resume to Ms. Michels.
Judge Swayze recognized OAC's staff for their exceptional work. He continued, the report is a remarkable achievement given the time in which the committee had to work.
Judge Swayze stated there's considerable work to be done as far as improvements to the judicial systu. Specifically, outstanding warrants are not only burdensome to the cyst, but an area of concern to the legislators. Judge Swayze also noted that discovery reform is an ongoing project.
Mr. Steere indicated the final report was a good product. He also acknowledged the hard work of AOC staff.
Chief Justice Alexander thanked Judge Swayze and Mr. Steere for their leadership and many hours dedicated to the Commission's work.
Washington State Bar Association
Mr. Peterson reported the Bar Board of Governors (BOG) has considered and endorsed all but three of the Project 2001 legislation. Those opposed by the BOG include mandatory arbitration in district courts; portability (unanimous vote against); and small claims appeal on the record. The Board briefly discussed the Bar's opposition.
Mr. Peterson continued, the Bar's legislative priority, in conjunction with Access to Justice, will be the funding of civil legal services. Another priority for the Bar are the two jury commission proposals: 2 days/1 trial and increased juror fees.
Mr. Peterson advised the Board that Lindsey Thompson and Doug Spruance have been appointed to represent the Bar on the Jury Implementation Committee.
Mr. Peterson reported, the Bar's Judiciary Recommendations Committee had added members to achieve better diversity. He continued, to ensure the Governor considers the Bar's recommendation when making appellate appointments, the response time has been shortened to three weeks.
Other Itus of Interest from the Bar:
Mr. Peterson advised the law week program is being expanded this year. The goal will be to have a lawyer or judge in every school in the state. Additional information can be obtained via e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 206-733-5944.
Judge Kessler asked that the Board think about what role the Board should take in drug law/drug sentencing reform in Washington. The judges should be directly involved. Judge Murphy responded that could be handled through he defects and omissions in the law. Superior Court judges report annually to the Chief Justice.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.