Superior Court

Global Menu

Superior Court

2021-2022 Proposed Local Court Rules

Proposed Local Court Rules 2021-2022

LCR Forms 2021-2022


Comments to Proposed Court Rules

From Erik Pedersen, Sr. DPA, Civil Division

Administrator West,

I am in favor of the proposals which clarify the eviction process. I believe these are not overly burdensome on the party pursuing the eviction and will further appropriate resolution of evictions.

Regarding the proposed rule regarding the firearm rights restoration petitions, I make the following suggestions which are indicated by strikethrough and redline as below. The reasons are I don’t need more than two full weeks to respond and I typically respond within days and at the very latest the Monday before the hearing. Also mental health petitions have a different burden of proof regarding the petition and my ability to process those are restricted by HIPPA. But to be able for the Court to consider and for me to process, access to that information is necessary. I intend to use this provision to encourage those to share that information with me.

1. PETITION TO RESTORE FIREARMS

(a) Petitions to restore firearm rights shall be brought under a civil cause number pursuant to the civil rules. Petitions for restoration upon a mental health proceeding sought under RCW 9.41.047 shall bear the burdens provided by statute and shall constitute a waiver of privilege to mental health information to the extent necessary for the Court to address the petition. Any information received pursuant to such waiver shall not be disclosed to others, except to the extent necessary to address the petition.

(b) A party filing a petition to restore firearms rights must serve the Skagit County Prosecutor, or his or her designee, at least 15 14 days before the scheduled hearing date. A petition that is not filed within the requirements of this rule will not be heard on the date noted for hearing.

(c) Service on the county prosecutor or his or her designee shall be made by

(i) hand delivering a copy to the office of the prosecuting attorney and leaving it with the prosecutor, a deputy prosecutor, or staff employed by the prosecutor’s office or

(ii) by mail. If service is by mail the provisions of CR5 (b)(2)(A)&(B) shall apply.

(d) The prosecutor may file a response to the petition to restore firearms rights. Any response in opposition to the petition shall must be filed and served at least two three days before the scheduled hearing date.

Erik Pedersen, Sr. DPA, Civil Division,
erikp@co.skagit.wa.us Ph(360)416-1600

From Andy Dugan, Executive Director, Skagit Legal Aid:

 I am submitting a proposed rule change to Local Rule 8.  I have attached the following:

I have also attached a proposed standing order and corresponding exhibits to create an Eviction Resolution Program in Skagit County.   

Proposed from Melissa Beaton, Skagit County Clerk:

 1.        PETITION TO RESTORE FIREARMS

(a) Petitions to restore firearm rights shall be brought under a civil cause number pursuant to the civil rules.

(b) A party filing a petition to restore firearms rights must serve the Skagit County Prosecutor, or his or her designee, at least 15 days before the scheduled hearing date. A petition that is not filed within the requirements of this rule will not be heard on the date noted for hearing.

(c) Service on the county prosecutor or his or her designee shall be made by

(i) hand delivering a copy to the office of the prosecuting attorney and leaving it with the prosecutor, a deputy prosecutor, or staff employed by the prosecutor’s office or

(ii) by mail. If service is by mail the provisions of CR5 (b)(2)(A)&(B) shall apply.

(d) The prosecutor may file a response to the petition to restore firearms rights. A response to the petition shall be filed and served at least two days before the scheduled hearing date.

 2.      ELECTRONIC FILING AND SERVICE

a)     Electronic Filing Authorization & Exception.

(1) Electronic Filing. Attorneys and self-represented litigants may electronically file (e-file) all documents using the Clerk’s online e-filing system unless this rule provides otherwise.  The nine day court rule applies.

b) Documents That Shall Not Be E-Filed. The following documents must be filed in paper form and not e-filed:

(1)    Original wills and codicils, including will only and new probate cases that include original wills or codicils;

(2)   Certified records of proceedings for purposes of appeal;

(3)   Documents of foreign governments under official seal including foreign and out of state adoption documents and judgments;

(4)  Administrative Law Review (ALR) Petitions;

(5)  Interpleader or Surplus Funds Petitions;

(6)   Documents presented for filing during a court hearing or trial including documents submitted for in-camera review;

(7)   New cases or fee-based documents filed with an Order to Waive Fees or in accordance with GR 34.

(8)  Comments: Negotiable instruments, exhibits, and trial notebooks are examples of items that are not to be filed in the court file either in paper form or by e-filing.

Comment to Proposed Local Court Rules by Alexis Fung Chen Pen

We have reviewed the proposed amendments to the Skagit County Superior Court Local Rules (hereafter “Local Rules”), and write to bring your attention to issues pertaining to Proposed Local Rule 3 of Part XI, and Proposed Local Rule 40(f)(4) of Part III.

Proposed Local Rule 3(a) provides, “All parties with Limited English Proficiency who need an interpreter to participate in court hearings shall complete the Request for Interpreter form located on the Superior Court webpage under the Forms section, and provide the form to Court Administration five (5) days before their court hearing.” [Emphasis added.]

It is our understanding that the “Request for Interpreter form” discussed in Proposed Local Rule 3(a) is the form labeled “Interpreter: Do you need an interpreter? ¿Necesita un intérprete de español que le asista en el tribunal?” on the “Superior Court and Family Law Forms” portion of the Court website.

We note that the English version of this form provides in part, “Fill out the form below and take it to the Court Administrator’s office, 2nd floor - Skagit County Courthouse. Do this 2-5 days BEFORE your hearing.” [Emphasis added.]

As Proposed Local Rule 3(a) requires the Request for Interpreter form to be provided to Court Administration 5 days before the hearing, but the form itself indicates the deadline is 2-5 days before the hearing, the adoption of Proposed Local Rule 3(a) may be confusing for practitioners. To eliminate confusion, we respectfully suggest the Request for Interpreter form be updated to reflect the 5-day deadline in Proposed Local Rule 3(a).

Additionally, we note that Proposed Local Rule 40(f)(4) provides in part, “In cases where one or more parties will appear remotely for trial, the original set of exhibits shall be accompanied by a completed Exhibit Notebook Certification form located in the Forms section on the Superior Court Webpage. All copies of the certification shall be accompanied by a copy of the Exhibit Notebook Certification.” [Emphasis added.] It appears that perhaps the phrase “copies of the certification” contains a typographical error and should instead read “copies of the exhibits.” Thus, we bring it to the Court’s attention so it may be revised, if necessary. We also note that similar language appears in Proposed Local Rule 94.04.4(f)(4) of Part V.”

 

Kelly Owen Managing Attorney, Bellingham Field Office Northwest Justice Project
Gail R. Smith Staff Attorney, Bellingham Field Office Northwest Justice Project

Dear Judge Riquelme : We appreciate the opportunity to provide comment on the proposed amendments to the Skagit County Superior Court Local Court Rules. It is apparent that the Court has devoted considerable time and effort in formulating rules that address both long-standing issues as well as lessons learned through the challenges presented during the pandemic. We believe that many of the proposed amendments will provide greater clarity for litigators on procedural matters in Skagit County and enhance access to justice. We do have some concerns regarding the impact of a couple of the proposed amended rules on both pro se litigants and other represented low-income litigants. Our concerns are as follows:

1. Proposed Rule 7 (b) (5) provides the opportunity for remote argument on civil motions, including family law motions. We applaud the Court for taking this important step. Virtual court appearances are vitally important for low-income litigants who lack transportation and child care resources, cannot afford to miss hours of work and are unable to pay for brief court appearances. The judicial system historically has not done a great job of providing ways for low-income individuals to appear remotely in the past, imposing costs on people who are not prepared to bear them, or simply causing litigants to fail to appear for lack of transportation or child care. One lesson learned from the pandemic is that virtual hearings do work. The proposed rule does not, however, fully achieve the objective of ensuring equitable access to the court system for low-income litigants. The proposed rule requires that the attorney or the unrepresented individual have clear audio and video in order to avail himself or herself of the opportunity to participate on the motion calendar remotely. This requirement results in disproportionately negative treatment of low-income litigants and particularly low-income litigants residing in more remote locations of Skagit County. We appreciate the fact that video participation greatly enhances the ability of the Court to observe and engage with the parties and is the preferred means of remote participation. Unfortunately, video capability is not universally available in Skagit County. Many, but not all, low-income individuals do have cell phones with video capacity. Finding a location in which they can be employed is often difficult and can change over time. There are many locations in Skagit County either that do not have service or where service is very unstable. For instance, it can be difficult maintaining a reliable connection with individuals located in Concrete. We have attempted to engage in Zoom meetings with clients at the East County Service Center and found the connection to be very unstable. We ultimately had to revert to use of just the phone in these instances. The lack of reliable transportation to and from the east county and other more remote locations further exacerbates the problem. One wheelchair limited client from Fidalgo Island needed either to come to Mount Vernon the night before or to arise at 5:00 a.m. and take two bus transfers with unreliable connections to make it to a 9:30 a.m. hearing. Remote participation in motion hearings should be available for these individuals even if they do not have reliable audio and video capability. We suggest that the court use this opportunity and the lessons learned during the pandemic to open the courthouse doors a little further and provide meaningful access to justice for low-income individuals. We recommend that the proposed rule be amended to provide that if reliable video and audio service is not available that the litigant may participate with audio only.

2. Proposed Rule 7 (b) (6) permits remote testimony only with prior Court approval. We appreciate the fact that one aspect of testimony is the opportunity for the Court to assess the credibility of the witness. Being able to see the individual testifying is an important element of that assessment. There are, however, situations outside the context of a trial in which the Court frequently takes testimony. In unlawful detainer proceedings, the defendant is instructed by the Show Cause order to appear at the hearing and provide reasons and testimony as to why a writ of restitution should not be entered. The defendant is not required, and indeed often does not have time, to submit evidence or declarations in advance. This proposed rule, if strictly interpreted, would require every defendant in an unlawful detainer show cause hearing to appear in person if the defendant wanted to assert any defense. Alternatively, every contested matter would have to be set for a fact-finding hearing. Similarly, with domestic relations motions, the court not infrequently makes inquiries of pro se parties on disputed factual issues. It is not possible for a pro se litigant to know in advance that testimony will be taken in this fashion and even if they knew, they cannot likely master the process to request preauthorization as contemplated in proposed Rule 94.04.2 (i).

3. Rule 94.04.2 (k) requires pro se litigants to have their final papers reviewed by the courthouse facilitator before they may be presented to the Court for entry. We suggest that the rule make it clear that the courthouse facilitator’s fee will be waived if the litigant qualifies to proceed under the provisions of GR 34. As the Court noted in Jafar v. Webb 177 Wn.2d 520, 303 P.3d. 1042, a litigant should not be denied his day in court simply because he is financially unable to pay the court fees. We are aware of litigants who have delayed the entry of final orders because of their mistaken belief that the courthouse facilitator’s fee must be paid before they can proceed. We suggest the incorporation of a statement in the rule that affirmatively states that the courthouse facilitator fee will be waived if the applicant has qualified to proceed under the provisions of GR34. Thank you for considering our comments as you finalize the local rules.

Dear Skagit County Superior Court:
My name is Leona C. Bratz. I am in private practice with LeGros Buchanan & Paul and am also a volunteer at Skagit County's Housing Justice Project. I would like to thank the Court for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Local Rule 8 changes and proposed standing order creating an Eviction Resolution Program (ERP), both of which I strongly support. HB 1236 and
SB 5160 substantially changed the landlord/tenant relationship and unlawful detainer process in Washington. I commend the Skagit County Superior Court for its significant proactive steps to ensure that tenants are able to access the protections afforded by the new laws.

The creation of an ERP will permit the Court to more effectively manage its docket while simultaneously permitting tenants to consult with local attorneys, to receive guidance about accessing rental assistance, and to negotiate with their landlords. The changes to Local Rule 8 will allow tenants in Skagit County to more effectively and equitably access legal counsel. Landlords
will also be required to explicitly plead an exception to new just cause protections, which will permit the Court and tenants to know the exact legal basis for the action. Collectively, these enhancements have the ability to keep tenants in rental properties without an eviction record and allow landlords to receive income from their rental properties.

Thank you for providing the opportunity to present these comments on the proposed changes to the Court's Local Rules. If you have any questions or wish to discuss these comments further, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Leona C. Bratz


Attorney General of Washington
[Pdf]

 


Skagit Legal Aid (SLA)


Dear Skagit County Superior Court:

On behalf of Skagit Legal Aid (SLA), I would like to thank the Court for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Local Rule changes, particularly the modifications to incorporate new procedures and technology. SLA commends the Court for its efforts to continue remote appearances beyond the pandemic. Remote appearances make it easier to recruit volunteer attorneys to represent pro bono clients in pending matters. More importantly, it has the potential to increase access to the Superior Court for people who otherwise would not be able to attend important legal proceedings.

In regards to the remote testimony provisions contained in proposed Local Rule 7(b)(5) and (6), SLA would like to raise a concern about the requirement for parties to have “clear audio and video.” This mandatory requirement to have clear video in addition to audio could have a disproportionate unintended impact on people who are typically isolated from accessing the Court’s proceedings as a result of physiological or geographic barriers.

During the pandemic, the explosion of videoconferencing technology to conduct an increasing amount of daily tasks excluded many of the people living on the margins. The closure of public places with free Wifi access effectively cut off those without smartphones from accessing modern life. The reopening of businesses and public spaces will permit people without Wifi at home to access the internet. However, this does not guarantee equitable access for individuals to conveniently access the Court’s proceedings by streaming audio and video on public networks.

As an anecdotal example, the SLA resumed its legal clinics last fall in a remote COVID-safe format at the East County Resource Center in Concrete. Prescreened clients visit the site where pro bono clients use computers set up by the SLA to meet with off site volunteer attorneys. Due to the poor internet connection, clients cannot stream both the audio and video on the computer. Rather, SLA sets up the video streaming on the computer and uses a physical telephone line to access the audio in order for attorneys and clients to talk and see one another simultaneously. This workaround would be inaccessible for most people during a remote hearing.As an alternative, SLA suggests that the Court could

1. Permit remote appearances with clear audio if the party or counsel indicates that the video streaming is not available;

2. Narrow the scope of hearings where remote appearances and testimony require video;

3. Permit pro se parties to appear by audio;

4. Establish remote courtrooms across Skagit County with Court provided computers and internet. Thank you for providing the opportunity to present these comments on the proposed changes to the Court’s Local Rules.

 
Daily Court Schedule
Video and Telephonic Hearings
Spanish

Video Hearings FAQs
Spanish
Telephone Hearing Rules

Spanish
Jury Trial Protocols
Bench Trial Protocols
Remote Proceeding
Pre-Trial Conference Summary


Exhibit Notebook Certification

Protocols
COVID-19 GUIDELINES FOR FAMILIES

LOCAL COURT RULES
Effective
September 1, 2020
Changes only

Skagit County Emergency
Local Court Rule

(Posted 1/12/21)

 Do you need an interpreter?
English and Spanish
Language Assistance Plan