WSR 03-23-018

RULES OF COURT

STATE SUPREME COURT


[ November 6, 2003 ]

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF THE AMENDMENTS TO CRLJ 14A(b) AND RALJ 1.1 )

)

)

)

ORDER

NO. 25700-A-784


The District and Municipal Court Judges' Association having recommended the adoption of the proposed amendments to CRLJ 14A(b) and RALJ 1.1, and the Court having approved the proposed amendments for publication;

Now, therefore, it is hereby

ORDERED:

(a) That pursuant to the provisions of GR 9(f), the proposed amendments as attached hereto are to be published for comment in the Washington Reports, Washington Register, Washington State Bar Association and the Administrative Office of the Courts' websites in January 2004.

(b) The purpose statement as required by GR 9(d), is published solely for the information of the Bench, Bar and other interested parties.

(c) Comments are to be submitted to the Clerk of the Supreme Court by either U.S. Mail or Internet E-Mail by no later than April 30, 2004. Comments may be sent to the following addresses: P.O. Box 40929, Olympia, Washington 98504-0929, or Lisa.Bausch@courts.wa.gov. Comments submitted by e-mail message must be limited to 1500 words.

DATED at Olympia, Washington this 6th day of November 2003.
For the Court

Gerry L. Alexander

CHIEF JUSTICE


GR 9 COVER SHEET


CRLJ 14A(b). REMOVAL TO SUPERIOR COURT



Purpose: Plaintiffs are encouraged to file civil cases in the district court, when it appears that damages will be within the jurisdictional limit of that court ($50,000.) However, at the beginning of a case, damages may not be easy to ascertain with reliability, particularly when a party is still undergoing medical treatment and his or her medical condition is not yet permanent and stable.

Under the current rule, once the plaintiff has filed his or her case in district court, the plaintiff must dismiss that case and refile the case in the superior court if the plaintiff later determines that the jurisdictional limit of the district court will be inadequate. However, if the statute of limitations has expired on plaintiff's cause of action, than this procedural remedy is not available to the plaintiff.

This rule change would allow a plaintiff the same right as other parties to transfer a case to superior court, upon the filing of an amended complaint, will encourage plaintiffs to file cases initially in the district court. Plaintiffs can file in the district court knowing that if a basis for claiming damages in excess of the jurisdictional limit of the district court should arise after they have filed their complaint, than they will have the opportunity to transfer their case to the superior court.

Having more civil cases filed in the district court will help relieve congestion in the superior courts in a cost-efficient manner, since most of the cases initially filed in the district court will remain there, and not be transferred to superior court.

Reviser's note: The typographical errors in the above material occurred in the copy filed by the State Supreme Court and appear in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.


Suggested Change

CRLJ 14A(b). REMOVAL TO SUPERIOR COURT



(a) [No change.]

(b) Claims in Excess of Jurisdiction - Generally. When a defendant, third party defendant, or cross claimant any party in good faith asserts a claim in an amount in excess of the jurisdiction of the district court or seeks a remedy beyond the jurisdiction of the district court, the district court shall order the entire case removed to superior court.

(c) - (e) [Unchanged.]

Reviser's note: The brackets and enclosed material in the text of the above section occurred in the copy filed by the agency and appear in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Reviser's note: The typographical error in the above material occurred in the copy filed by the State Supreme Court and appears in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.



GR 9 COVER SHEET


Suggested Change

RULES FOR APPEAL OF DECISIONS OF COURTS OF LIMITED JURISDICTION (RALJ)


RALJ 1.1

SCOPE OF RULES



Purpose: The suggested rule changes would implement RALJ procedures for the review of all final decisions of courts of limited jurisdiction, with the exception of the decisions of lay judges and the decisions made by small claims courts. Under the RALJ, the review of a final decision of a court of limited jurisdiction is a review for errors of law.

Under the current rule, while RALJ provisions govern most reviews of final decisions of the limited jurisdiction courts, the RALJ do not govern the review of final decisions made by municipal courts operating under RCW 3.50 and RCW Titles 35 and 35A, in municipalities with a population not exceeding 5,000 people. Final decisions of those municipal courts are reviewed de novo in the superior court pursuant to the Civil Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (CRLJ) 75.

It is unclear why the court rules specify a different method of review for municipalities under 5,000 One reason may have been that municipalities with a population less than 5,000 are permitted to have lay judges, as set forth in RCW 3.50.040, and decisions of lay judges in the courts of limited jurisdiction are always reviewed de novo. RALJ 1.1(a).

The suggested rule change would require that review of all final decisions from courts of limited jurisdiction be heard pursuant to the RALJ procedures, unless the municipal court decision was made by a lay judge or was made by a small claims court. There would appear to be no reason to require different methods of review for decisions made by a court of limited jurisdiction depending on the population of the municipality. A different method of review should only be required if the court's decision was made by a lay judge.

Requiring a review only for errors of law, rather than a de novo review, is the more-typical standard of review for decisions made by judicial officers who are not lay judges. Furthermore, a review of a court decision for errors of law, as opposed to a de novo review, which requires a new trial in the superior court, is a more cost-effective review of a decision. Finally, with the repeal of GR 8 by the Supreme Court, effective January 1, 2003, there will be fewer and fewer court decisions made by lay judges.

The other suggested changes to this rule would simplify the wording of the rule and clarify the two types of decisions by limited jurisdiction courts which would not be reviewed under the RALJ. Those decisions are small claims court decisions and decisions made by lay judges. Pursuant to RCW 12.36.055, the appeal from a small claims judgment or decision is a de novo review upon the record of the case. CRLJ 73 and 75 set forth the procedure for a de novo review on the record.

Pursuant to RALJ 1.1(a), decisions of a lay judge are reviewed de novo. The procedures for a de novo review is also set forth in CRLJ 73 and 75.

In summary, the requested rule changes would make one substantive change by making final decisions of a limited jurisdiction court in a municipality not exceeding a population of 5,000, reviewable under the RALJ procedures, so long as the decision was made by a judge admitted to the practice of law in Washington. The other suggested changes would simplify the language of RALJ 1.1(a) without making any substantive changes.

Reviser's note: The typographical error in the above material occurred in the copy filed by the State Supreme Court and appears in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.


RULES FOR APPEAL OF DECISIONS OF COURTS OF LIMITED JURISDICTION (RALJ)


RULE 1.1 SCOPE OF RULES



(a) Proceedings Subject to Rules. These rules establish the procedure, called appeal, for review by the superior court of a final decision of a court of limited jurisdiction, subject to the restrictions defined in this rule. These rules apply only to review of (1) district courts operating under RCW 3.30; (2) municipal departments operating under RCW 3.46; (3) alternative municipal courts operating under RCW 3.50 in municipalities exceeding 5,000 in population; (4) municipal courts operating under RCW 35.20; (5) all other courts operating under RCW Title 35 or 35A in municipalities exceeding 5,000 in population; and (6) any other court required by law to have a lawyer-judge. These rules do not apply to review of other courts of limited jurisdiction, do not apply to review of a small claims court operating under RCW 12.40, and do not apply to review of a decision of a judge who is not admitted to the practice of law in Washington. These rules do not supersede the procedure for seeking de novo review when these rules do not apply. These rules do not apply to and do not supercede the procedure for seeking de novo review on the record of other decisions of a court of limited jurisdiction.

(b) These rules do not apply to the de novo review of a decision of a judge who is not admitted to the practice of law in Washington and do not apply to the de novo review on the record of a decision of a small claims court operating under RCW 12.40. The procedures for review of these decisions are set forth in CRLJ 73 and 75.

(b) (c) [Unchanged.]

(c) (d) [Unchanged.]

(d) (e) [Unchanged.]

(e) (f) [Unchanged.]

(f) (g) [Unchanged.]

Reviser's note: The brackets and enclosed material in the text of the above section occurred in the copy filed by the agency and appear in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Reviser's note: The typographical errors in the above material occurred in the copy filed by the State Supreme Court and appear in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.

Legislature Code Reviser 

Register

Washington State Code Reviser's Office