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CALIFORNIA JUDICIAL COUNCIL: 10 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COURTS TO BE HONORED FOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN COURT ADMINISTRATION

 SAN FRANCISCO, April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Ten Southern California courts are among 12 statewide that will receive the second annual Ralph N. Kleps Award for Improvement in the Administration of the Courts, the California Judicial Council said today.
 The award recognizes the innovative activities and exemplary projects of local courts throughout the state that improve the administration of justice. It is named for the first Administrative Director of the California Courts, who served from the creation of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) in 1960 to July 1, 1977.
 The award will be presented on April 15 in La Jolla during the 1993 Court Management and Presiding Judges Conference, sponsored by the Judicial Council of California and the AOC.
 The winners from Southern California are:
 -- Three Los Angeles courts -- the Los Angeles Superior Court, the Los Angeles Municipal Court, and the Pomona Municipal Court;
 -- Orange County Superior Court;
 -- Two Riverside municipal courts -- the Three Lakes Judicial District and the Mt. San Jacinto Judicial District, which shared a collaborative honor besides winning one award each for separate programs;
 -- San Bernardino County Superior and Municipal Courts;
 -- Two San Diego courts -- the San Diego Superior Court and the El Cajon Municipal Court; and
 -- Ventura County Superior and Municipal Courts.
 Other winners are the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District (Fresno) for its Oral Argument by Teleconference project and the Sacramento County Superior and Municipal Courts for their Consolidation and Transition Plans.
 The Southern California courts and their winning programs are listed below, by the three categories in which the award is given, courts with (1) one to two judges, (2) three to ten judges, and (3) eleven or more judges.
 CATEGORY 1 (one- to two-judge courts)
 -- Three Lakes Judicial District (Riverside County) -- Civil Fast Track Program: Working with the local bar association, the court adopted local court rules that set time standards for each civil event. The overall goal was to dispose of 90 percent of all civil cases within one year, weed out frivolous filings, and make civil case processing more efficient. The program was begun one year prior to fast track mandates.
 CATEGORIES 1 and 2 (a collaboration between a one- to two-judge court and a three- to ten-judge court)
 -- Three Lakes Judicial District and Mt. San Jacinto Judicial District (Riverside County) -- Traffic Management System: This system allows the two judicial districts, at three locations, to access all tickets on the system and, through coordination efforts, adjudicate the other's tickets, accept payments and dismissals, and set up traffic school for defendants. It allows for the centralized mail payment of all tickets and enhances the shared accounting function between the two districts.
 CATEGORY 2 (three- to ten-judge courts)
 -- Pomona Municipal Court (Los Angeles County) -- Court Collections Program: This project implements a three-phase collections program: Phase I, imposition of a civil assessment on traffic failures to appear; Phase II, collection/reimbursement for indigent defense costs; and Phase III, collection of regular fine payments on criminal actions. Beginning with Phase I, the court contracted with a collections agency, which provides an employee at the court for face-to-face contact with clients. The program uses the court's automated traffic system and the outside agency employee and their resources, equipment, and databases to track cases, notify clients, and collect assessments.
 -- Mt. San Jacinto Judicial District (Riverside County) -- Work Simplification: After the court hired an industrial engineer to prepare a flow-chart for each task in each department, classes were held for employees in business procedures, problem analysis, and development of time standards. The project cost $205,035 and generated a $908,000 savings in two fiscal years. One-third of the management positions were eliminated. The court traded vacancies, created as a result of the study, for computer programmers, eliminating the need for outside or contract programmers.
 -- El Cajon Municipal Court (San Diego County) -- Court Coordination: This project totally coordinates the civil and criminal calendars of the El Cajon Municipal Court and the East County Branch of the San Diego County Superior Court through the use of cross-assignments of those courts' judges. It also expands the number of judges available to process the combined municipal and superior workload of the East County courts.
 CATEGORY 3 (eleven-judge or more courts)
 -- Los Angeles County Superior Court -- Domestic Violence Clinics: The court saved $200,000 in fiscal year 1991-92 by establishing domestic violence clinics for victims seeking restraining orders who could not afford adequate legal assistance (and would thereby tax the court's resources through inadequate legal preparation). The clinics utilize a partnership between public and private organizations to help solve a legal and social problem.
 -- Los Angeles Municipal Court -- Traffic Interactive Payment System (TIPS): This project uses touch-tone technology to allow the public to find out about traffic tickets and make payments.
 -- Orange County Superior Court -- Flat Fee Arrangements for Indigent Defense in Homicide Cases: This program regulates and controls the cost of indigent defense representation. An attorney from a court-approved Homicide Panel assigned to a case, upon appointment, must submit a signed declaration and proposal that includes the attorney's projected time and cost. A panel of judges reviews the proposal, determines a flat fee for the case, and advances the attorney one-third the amount.
 -- San Bernardino County Superior and Municipal Courts -- Trial Court Consolidation: This coordination plan was implemented in stages: (1) court administration -- duties/titles redefined, existing personnel reallocated to new countywide positions, support staff reorganized into criminal and civil teams; (2) regional courts assigned to either a criminal or civil team and three specialty departments; and (3) physical relocation and consolidation.
 -- San Diego County Superior Court -- "Consider the Children" Parenting Classes: San Diego Family Court Services counselors created a unique interactive parenting education course to help divorcing parents address their children's needs. The 12-hour class, spread over six weeks, incorporates parent effectiveness, communication, and child development, among other issues, to help parents see how their behavior affects their children. The voluntary program is so effective that 90 percent of its graduates felt it should be a mandatory prerequisite to appearances in family court.
 -- Ventura County Superior and Municipal Courts -- DMV/Courts Interchange: The Ventura County Superior and Municipal Courts and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have engaged in a pilot project that allows a court clerk to work in the DMV office assisting clients with court services and a DMV clerk at the court to provide DMV services to defendants.
 Award recipients, selected by the Judicial Council's Court Management Committee, were judged on the following criteria: (1) improvement of the administration of the courts and/or fulfillment of the intent of at least one of the adopted Judicial Council priorities for the year, (2) innovation, and (3) transferability to other courts in the state.
 -0- 4/14/93
 /CONTACT: Karen Ringuette, public information office of the California Judicial Council, 415-396-9118/


CO: California Judicial Council ST: California IN: SU:

LH-BR -- SF001 -- 5697 04/14/93 12:03 EDT
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