Superior Court Process Changes Delayed due to Budget Cuts
For some years, due to a lack of resources, the Superior Court has been unable, to process and try cases in a timely manner. Despite having one of the most efficient courts in the state of Washington, non-criminal matters have routinely been continued multiple times due to court congestion. This has resulted in extra expense for litigants and unacceptable delays in giving the citizens of this county their day in court.
In an effort to mitigate those problems we launched an ambitious project to change the way we process cases in the Superior Court. With the assistance of local attorneys we have spent the last seven months reinventing our case processing system. We sought the advice of nationally recognized experts in court management. We asked for input from the public and in particular from those who have been litigants in our court.
The result of those efforts is a comprehensive change in the way we do business, scheduled to begin on January 1, 2013.
On December 10, 2012 we were advised for the first time by the Cowlitz county Commissioners that they were considering across the board five percent cuts to the entire county budget. Despite our protests those cuts were passed on December 11, 2012. Those cuts will have truly disastrous consequences for our court and those involved in litigation here.
After careful consideration we have determined, in light of the Commissioners actions we will not be able to implement the case processing changes at this time. We will be deferring the start date indefinitely. We realize that this means that many cases will continue to not be heard when they should. We realize that this means we as a court will continue to not meet our constitutional obligations. Rest assured we are working hard on alternate means of resolving this problem.
The court schedule changes set to go into effect on January 1, 2013 will still be implemented.
Stephen M. Warning