Washington Temporary Superior Court Judges, SJR 8208 (2001)

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The Washington Temporary Superior Court Judges Amendment, also known as Senate Joint Resolution 8208, was on the November 6, 2001 election ballot as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment in Washington, where it was approved. This amendment permits superior courts to bring in judges from lower courts to hear certain cases.

Election results

Washington Senate Joint Resolution 8208 (2001)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 976,417 71.18%
No395,32428.82%

Election results via the Washington Secretary of State.[1]

Text of measure

See also: Washington Constitution, Article IV, Section 7

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

The Legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on the use of temporary superior court judges (judges pro tempore). This amendment would allow superior courts to bring in elected Washington judges from other court levels to hear cases on a temporary basis, subject to certain restrictions, as implemented by supreme court rules.

Should this constitutional amendment be approved or rejected?[3]

Vote in legislature

Before being referred to the ballot, Senate Joint Resolution 8208 was passed by the Washington State Legislature by these votes:

Chamber Ayes Noes
House 91 5
Senate 39 8

Support

Arguments in favor

These arguments in support appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[4]

COURT CONGESTION COSTS US ALL TIME AND MONEY

Court cases take too long and cost too much. That’s bad for taxpayers and bad for those seeking justice in Washington courts. ESJR 8208 addresses these concerns.

JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED

Court congestion is a problem. When cases come up for a hearing, superior court judges are often unavailable because they are already busy hearing other cases. As a result, cases have to be postponed. Postponement of civil cases is a costly inconvenience. And postponement of criminal cases may result in dismissal of all charges because the “speedy trial” rule requires criminal cases to be heard within 60 or 90 days.

ESJR 8208 PROVIDES MORE JUDGES WHERE AND WHEN WE NEED THEM – AT NO ADDITIONAL COST

ESJR 8208 provides a common-sense alternative to relieve court congestion, makes efficient use of judges and courtrooms, and saves tax dollars. ESJR 8208 simply allows superior courts to use elected Washington judges from other court levels to hear cases on a temporary basis as needed. The result – more effective use of existing judges at no additional cost to taxpayers.

VOTE “YES” ON ESJR 8208

Judges, lawyers, prosecutors, legislators, concerned citizens, business and civic leaders throughout the state support this sensible approach to making our courts more efficient and getting cases heard on time. Please vote “yes” on ESJR 8208!

Rebuttal of Statement Against

Don’t be misled by the opposition statement. With ESJR 8208, only an elected judge can be assigned to a case. And each side can reject up to two assigned judges. ESJR 8208 also requires that judges have demonstrated ability and experience.

These judges will be used when cases would otherwise be delayed or dismissed – an expensive and unjust result. Without additional cost to taxpayers, this proposal improves court efficiency. Vote yes on ESJR 8208.[3]

Supporters

The following individuals signed the argument in support of SJR 8208 in the State of Washington's official voter guide:

  • Gerry L. Alexander, Chief Justice, Washington Supreme Court
  • Jan Eric Peterson, President, Washington State Bar Association
  • Adam Kline, State Senator
  • Ida Ballasiotes, State Representative
  • Stephen Johnson, State Senator
  • Patricia Lantz, State Representative.

Opposition

Arguments against

These arguments in opposition appeared in the official State of Washington Voter Guide:[5]

ESJR 8208 MAKES IT HARDER TO GET RID OF BAD JUDGES

“We, The People” have a right to elect judges from the communities we live in and in which they serve. This is an important right because those we elect sit in judgment over our lives, property and freedoms. This right ensures judges we may face in court someday live in our midst and share our values. Thus we elect judges who are accountable directly to us. If they prove to be incompetent, if they show favoritism, or if they are corrupt we can vote them out at the next election.

ESJR 8208 TAKES AWAY OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

“Pro tempore” judges are “judges” who are appointed temporarily to hear cases. Most “pro tem” judges are attorneys who have never been elected by the people. Currently, our state constitution provides that a case in the superior court may be tried by a “judge pro tempore” but only if the parties before the court agree in writing. This protects the parties and gives them the right to choose a capable and fair person to be their judge.

ESJR 8208 RESTRICTS ACCOUNTABILITY TO VOTERS

This is a bad referendum. Even though it attempts to provide some protections, it still allows a judge pro tem ultimately to be appointed even if the parties strongly oppose the person being appointed. This person may not be elected from the area in which the parties live and therefore is wholly unaccountable to the voters. The people should maintain their control over who their judges will be. It is difficult enough now to remove bad judges who sit on the courts.

PLEASE VOTE “NO” ON ESJR 8208

Rebuttal of Statement For

Most people know how frustrating the legal system is – from attorneys who don’t return phone calls to judges who don’t spend enough time in the courtroom. These are things that clog the system and waste taxpayer money. Inefficiencies and incompetency aren’t solved by bringing in judges who aren’t accountable to the people. ESJR- 8208 only enhances the same “good-old-boy” network – with all its problems – at our expense. Protect your right to elect judges. Please vote “No.[3]

Opponents

The following individuals signed the argument in opposition of SJR 8208 in the State of Washington's official voter guide:

See also

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