Court Liaison Committee Annual Report
The Committee usually meets the 3rd or 4th Thursday of every other month. The meetings are well attended by Judges and Administrators. We would like to see more attendance from practitioners and members of the public.
The last year saw the implementation of a Mental Health Court in Tacoma Municipal Court. The approach emphasizes early identification of defendants that might have mental health issues. Once identified these defendants would be placed on the mental health docket. The docket has designated attorneys from the City Prosecutor’s office and DAC. In conjunction with this effort the Tacoma Police Department has instituted a program where they have mental health practitioners available to them on patrol. The goal is to have individuals with mental health issues identified at the time of arrest and and/or booking.
Pierce County District Court Probation had their first year with two mental health specialists. These specialists have been hired to assist defendants with mental health issues in navigating the complexity of obtaining resources that will allow them to fulfill the requirements of their court orders. One of the specialist has left Pierce County District Court Probation, and a replacement is being sought.
In the area of Electronic Home Monitoring, the committee was informed that legislation has been passed that will bring a measure of regulation to a previous completely unregulated industry. The legislation is aimed at providing a minimum standard by which EHM companies can operate.
There is on-going discussion to develop standard EHM orders that more fully encompasses what each Judge would like to see as the available departures, if any, from strict house arrest. By developing a more specific EHM order, it is hoped that it will reduce the need for defendants to re-appear to ask the Court for permission for specific activities, such as church, children’s activities and family outings.
Pierce County District Court has raised its civil jurisdictional limits to $100,000.00. It is anticipated that there will be an increase in the civil filings. To accommodate the increase, the Court has created a committee to look at the civil rules to see how they may be revised to streamline the civil process. Judge Frank Dacca is the rules committee chair person and he is scheduled to address the District/Municipal Liaison Committee at the next meeting.
I look forward to servicing another year as chairperson of the committee. The committee is always looking for topics and issues that affect the Courts of Limited Jurisdiction. If you have a suggestion or know of a topic for discussion, please feel free to contact me. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next meeting is scheduled for February 18, 2016, 7:30 AM at the Harvester Restaurant. All are welcome.
Karl L. Williams, Chairperson