The Washington State Board for Judicial Administration (BJA) presented the Innovating Justice Awards to a King County judge and technology integrator for their leadership roles in leading new programs to address access and justice issues in the courts, such as prisoners, investigating issues of the Racial Justice and More.
The Innovating Justice Awards were launched by the BJA in late 2020 to recognize leadership during the COVID crisis, promoting innovation in the justice industry, as well as responsiveness to racial justice and access to justice issues.
“There’s a lot to fear right now, but there is also a lot to be grateful for,” said Steven González, chairman of the Washington Supreme Court, who co-chairs the BJA. “It is important to stop and celebrate branch members who are committed and innovative in solving problems.”
The recipients of the BJA Innovating Justice Award in August 2021 include:
– King County Supreme Court Justice Judith Ramseyer for her tireless guidance in access to justice, racial justice and judicial recovery during the pandemic era. Judge Ramseyer became president of the Superior Court Judges’ Association (SCJA) as the pandemic and nationwide race settlement hit. The letter of several judicial officers nominating her for the award states: “In 2020, following the assassination of George Floyd, she wrote a passionate letter to SCJA members regarding the responsibility of the courts for ensuring racial justice. She called for each SCJA standing committee to actively reflect on how racial equality and access to justice could be addressed within the framework of the committee’s work, and requested that each report. She founded and assumed a leadership role in the new SCJA Racial Justice Work Group and helped set up the new nationwide Racial Justice Consortium. Judge Ramseyer, in collaboration with the Commission on Judicial Conduct, also organized a nationwide training course, Advocating for Justice: What’s a Judge to Do ?, to examine the role of judicial officers in combating racial justice. Under her leadership, the SCJA set up a working group for protection orders to deal with the streamlining and modernization of protection order processes and to improve the access of litigants to the courts. Judge Ramseyer formed the SCJA Unlawful Detainer [Eviction] Working group in early June 2020 to develop legal resources that would improve access to justice for all parties after the eviction moratorium ends. She was one of the key visionaries driving the development of the now nationally approved evictions program. She helped campaign for the implementation of a nationwide SMS program that will help reduce the number of arrest warrants issued for missed court appointments. Judge Ramseyer has unfailingly led the indictment and has done everything to stand up for our courts and access to justice at a time when unpredictable challenges have made normal business literally impossible. She took phone calls from airplanes, showed up for meetings on her vacation, and answered every single email that came in droves each day. Their work in partnership with others produced remarkable results that served the general interests of the SCJA and the justice system itself. “
– Senior Business Analyst Jamie Kammich for leading a complex, statewide effort to develop electronic filing from inmates from all eight Washington state prisons to all three sections of the appeals courts and the Washington Supreme Court.
“This is a way to help people who have a right to be heard respectfully and in a timely manner. Jamie saw through the bureaucracy and followed it tirelessly, ”said Judge González. The nomination letter states, “Because of Jamie’s work, inmates who are required to file legal documents from any of the Washington state prisons in one of the appeals courts can do so almost immediately. Given the significant disproportionate nature of our prisons, Jamie’s work has a positive impact on all colored inmates seeking access to the appeals courts. In the past, detainees rarely had access to copy services, and when they did, the prison required copies from them. Most of the inmates had to send in their originals and didn’t get them back. If these materials were lost, they had no hope that their affairs would be heard by the appeals court. Jamie worked tirelessly during the COVID crisis to make sure this electronic filing system was operational across the state. ”Kambich trained and tested processes and systems between multiple courts and institutions, almost always with employees working remotely. He continued to work through each of the major prisons to train all those involved with the inmates’ filing system. “With these files, the details matter – if the subject lines of emails from the inmate file are incorrect, they may not be submitted on time. Jamie worked with each of the librarians in each of the prisons to ensure that all legal documents were correctly identified in the subject lines of the emails and ran repeated quality assurance tests to make sure the system was working as intended. Jamie finished this project at an extremely difficult time for the courts. Despite closings, working remotely, and working with a wide variety of staff across multiple institutions, Jamie managed to get this project up and running successfully, reducing the workload of court clerks, and ensuring prison inmates have access to the courts. Without his commitment, this project would not have come about. “
The Board for Judicial Administration, comprised of judges at all levels of the state’s courts and officials from other judicial authorities, is charged with developing guidelines and running the state’s judiciary.
– Washington courts