In 2008 the Superior Court for Cowlitz County
The Court’s efforts have benefited the Court, the citizens involved in legal proceedings, and those in our care, especially children. We have greatly improved our administrative structure and improved the security of everyone who enters the Cowlitz County Hall of Justice and the Cowlitz County Youth Services Center. We have made it easier for people to access the services of the Court. In short, the 2008 long range plan has been a success .
Several factors drove the initial decision to engage in strategic planning: a growing and changing population in our community and the change in the nature of our cases based on changes in society and new directives from our legislative branch.
The Superior Court Judges decided to revisit that long range plan. Good management demands
that our long range plan be a vital and relevant document upon which we can base our decision-making. Three of four judges have joined this bench in 2011. The plan needs to be just as relevant to our Family Court, Juvenile Detention, Juvenile Probation, and Drug Court operations as it is to the Court itself.
The most compelling reason for the Court to continue to strategically plan is that we are in a state of crisis. The Administrative Office of the Courts has consistently found that, while we are
one of the most efficient courts in this state, we are also one of the most chronically and severely underfunded. We do not have the resources which are constitutionally required to allow
us to do our job. As a result, civil cases are suffering unconscionable delays before they can be
heard, if they are heard at all. We cannot provide timely solutions to problems for those with civil cases, including Family Law cases, because we simply do not have the resources to do so. Access to a forum where citizens can receive a fair, neutral decision to resolve their disputes is a bedrock principle of this country. We are that forum, and must live up to that obligation.