Commission on Justice, Efficiency and Accountability
April 29, 1998
April 29, 1998
The meeting was called to order by Mr. Douglas Beighle, Commission chair.
Ms. Pettus reported that the subcommittee had agreed upon the definition of efficiency at its last meeting. That definition is:
1) increase timeliness;
Ms. Pettus continued, the subcommittee has established the following three critical outcomes: 1) develop some standards and measures; 2) develop a process for continuing improvement; and 3) recommend 10 best practices for all courts. At its next meeting the subcommittee will be reviewing the Trial Court Performance Standard to determine how they should be used.
Judge Grosse indicated concern that Mike Planet and Lish Whitson were attempting to set up a court improvement fund. He said the legislature will be looking for efficiencies with money tied to them.
Mr. Beighle said this is a long-term process, which should be from the bottom up not the top down. He questioned whether the focus groups set for June were premature. He continued, the main thing to report is that the process is on-going. The Commission briefly discussed whether to delay holding the focus groups. This discussion was postponed until later in the meeting.
Judge Berschauer advised the Commission of the uneasiness among the members of the superior court judges association. They are concerned they will loose local control, i.e., no longer have the ability to go to local officials for funding. The judges do not want to deal with a statewide body over their budgets. It is imperative that the judges are educated and kept informed.
Judge Derr stated that resistance to change, and fear of the unknown comes down to an education issue. The focus groups should provide a forum for input.
Judge Agid said her subcommittee tried to be as draconian as possible in establishing the core functions. The noncore functions are those courts are not required to do. She continued, the county clerks were concerned about the classification by Function 5: Judicial Administration. The clerks feel their functions are separate from the judicial functions. They are responsible if something goes wrong and they are the ones answering to the public, if for example, records are not maintained.
Judge Agid explained the noncore functions were those courts were not required to perform, but permitted to do such as some family court services. Core functions are those required by the constitution, statutes or court rules.
The Commission agreed the next step is to review each function to determine whether they could be accomplished by using administrative law judges or court commissioners. The functions should also be reviewed to ascertain if they might be accomplished less expensively by another entity and whether any value is added by having the courts perform these functions.
Judge Grosse stated: 1) the justice system as a whole is under funded; and 2) courts are underfunded, particularly at the local jurisdiction level. He continued, there will probably be no new money for the justice system and it will be necessary for courts to demonstrate efficiencies.
Judge Grosse said that the uneasiness is not just on the part of the courts, but also the prosecuting attorneys. He noted the justice system is not ready to name the dollar figure required to improve the system. The Commission briefly discussed
Mr. Beighle stated he thought it would be best to postpone the June focus groups until he was able to meet with the boards of each of the associations. The Commission members agreed to reschedule the focus groups sometime in the fall. Mr. Beighle also agreed to do a presentation on October 5, 1998 at the Fall Conference.
Mr. Beighle advised the Commission he has created another subcommittee comprised of Judge Berschauer, Betty Gould, Walt Howe and Paul Steere. That group will not meet until after Mr. Beighle has met with the association boards.
The Commission was reminded that the next meeting was scheduled for June 22, 1998 beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Two Union Square.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
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