SAN FRANCISCO—During the second day of a two-day meeting, the Judicial Council voted unanimously today to allocate up to $3.36 million from the Trial Court Trust Fund to assist the Superior Court of San Luis Obispo County in acquiring a new court case management system.
The council recognized that the San Luis Obispo court needs to replace its two failing 30+ years-old case management systems which have no vendor support, suffer from intermittent failures, and could fail permanently at any time.
The San Luis Obispo court had volunteered to be one of the “early adopter” courts for the California Court Case Management System (CCMS) and spent a significant amount of time and resources preparing to implement the system. But the Judicial Council had to cancel CCMS in March 2012 because of budgetary constraints.
Funds previously set aside to reimburse the Superior Court of Ventura County for costs it would have incurred in the deployment of CCMS will now go to the San Luis Obispo court for a case management system. The court will be responsible for maintenance and operations costs.
“This court has gone out on a limb three different times in terms of case management systems only to have that limb sawed off, not through any fault of their own,” said Judge James E. Herman, chair of the CCMS Internal Committee in explaining its recommendation.
The council rejected the notion that the allocation is a gift to the San Luis Obispo court and will open the door to requests from other courts with failing case management systems.
“I don't view the approval as a gift to San Luis Obispo,” said council member David H. Yamasaki, executive officer for the Superior Court of Santa Clara County. “I view it as a partnership, a partnership for the entire branch to move forward past CCMS.”
Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst of Los Angeles noted that the case management system to be developed for the San Luis Obispo court will serve as a “template” for other courts looking to replace their case management system. Other council members agreed.
In other Judicial Council business:
Plans for Improving Court Technology—The council’s Technology Committee (formerly the California Court Case Management System Internal Committee) informed the council that it has created a new working group that will work on developing a roadmap for case management systems, e-filing, and other court technology. The committee’s survey of California trial courts revealed that 6 courts need new case management systems now and 22 more will need new systems in one to five years. The working group—made up of judges, court executive officers, and IT specialists—is also working on leveraging technology from the shuttered California Court Case Management System (CCMS) by identifying if parts of the system can be used by courts or purchased by vendors.
Court Executive Officers from State Help San Joaquin Court Identify Efficiencies—As part of its agreement to provide emergency funding to the Superior Court of San Joaquin County in December 2011, the council instructed the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to assist the court in identifying how the court could reduce costs and increase revenues. The AOC enlisted five volunteer court executive officers from California’s trials courts to visit the San Joaquin court and offer best practices and recommendations to improve court operations. The best practices and recommendations will become part of a statewide depository that will benefit other courts seeking to deal with decreasing budgets and resources.
In the meeting yesterday, the Judicial Council accepted the report by the Strategic Evaluation Committee and created a process to consider the recommendations. The council also postponed a motion to adopt the first four recommendations of the report, which deal with Judicial Council oversight of the AOC. That motion will be discussed at a Judicial Council meeting scheduled for August 30-31. Invitations to comment on the report are posted here.