October 2013 Bar Bulletin
 
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From the Desk of the Presiding Judge

Involuntary Treatment Act Court Feels Growing Pains

By Judge Richard McDermott

 

New Civil Case Calendar, Judges Also in the News

Though it does not completely follow this month's theme, I want to use this column to both report on news from the King County Superior Court and to describe for you one of the most important and fastest growing areas of involvement for our Court - the ITA or Involuntary Treatment Act Court currently located on the Harborview Campus.

First, the news. In 2011, we embarked on a process to reduce the time to trial for all general civil cases. At that time the wait was almost 18 months, something many of us feel is unacceptable. Under the leadership of now retired Judge Sharon Armstrong, Judge Palmer Robinson and Superior Court Clerk Barbara Miner, we embarked on a process that I have previously described, but, briefly stated, involves gradually reducing the wait time by double-setting trials several weeks a year.

So far, that procedure seems to have been successful and the wait time has almost been cut in half - now the wait is 15 months and the eventual goal is 12 months from time of filing to time of trial. It is anticipated that we will be continuing to employ this method for approximately another two years to reach our goal.

Earlier this year I described for you the opening of what we like to refer to as the "Courtroom of the Future." This is our high-technology courtroom located in E-854 in the downtown courthouse. So far, those who have used it have given it high reviews. It works and allows us to assist those attorneys who have technology needs. I encourage you to check it out and use it for your needs in the future.

As is our custom and practice, my term as presiding judge is three years and that term will expire at the end of this calendar year. We just completed an election for my successor and I am pleased to announce that Judge Susan Craighead has been selected to be our next presiding judge. Judge Craighead has served this past year as our assistant presiding judge and is definitely familiar with our Court's needs and issues. I am certain she will do a wonderful job as the next PJ. I will have some thoughts to share with you covering my last three years later this year in a future column.


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