State Revenue and Appropriations
Funding Principles for Judicial Administration
1. The technology has allowed attorneys and citizens to access information about the case hearing schedule and the designated courtroom. The Automatic Order of Protections in Domestic Violence Cases has expedited the issuing of protection order and maintains statistical information about the number of petition and orders issued by the courts.
Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times
Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses:
Service Reductions: In the coming year, the courts in Puerto Rico will delay filling vacancies in judicial support positions. They are also reducing the amount of temporary employees, freezing reclassifications and the hiring of vacant positions and reducing private service contracts and consultants.
Efficiency Measures: The courts of Puerto Rico have implemented and will continue to implement an electronic document management system, an enhanced case management system and a virtual web-based information center to provide public access to records. In the coming year, they will implement e-payment of fines and fees, will update the electronic library system, will introduce videoconference technology to allow technical resources from the Forensic Science Institute to appear in court and to allow technical resources from the Diagnostic Clinic to appear in court, will extend the Unified Case Management Administration System (SUMAC) in civil matters to additional judicial regions, and will complete the For The Record (FTR) system in the Superior Court, and courtrooms for preliminary hearing and alimony cases.
Restructuring: The Puerto Rican courts have reallocated judges and staff to districts based upon weighted caseload and have changed venue to share judicial workload. To reduce operating costs, courthouses with a minimum workload have been closed and relocated. The court has reengineered some work process to increase efficiency and expedite workflow. This has been implemented specifically in the court clerk’s office. Flexible work schedules have been implemented in the investigation unit to provide after hours services on nights and weekends.
Business Processes: The Puerto Rican courts have implemented an enhanced caseflow management program, and have transitioned to digital recording of court proceedings. The courts will in the coming year introduce remote videoconferencing of incarcerated defendants and use remote videoconferencing of detained juveniles.
Commissions: The Coalition to Preserve Puerto Rico’s Justice System was formed to present a unified front at the Legislature for purposes of seeking/maintaining funding for the justice system to ensure access to justice.
The Puerto Rican courts are in a better position than in FY09 to provide access and timely justice. The Judicial Branch has implemented projects to increase efficiency, to improve access to justice and work performance. An intensive maintenance and improvement plan for the court’s building structure have been implemented. The repairs have enhanced accessibility to the physically impaired, and the distribution of office space to provide for privacy and adequate office space. Investments have also been made to provide for waiting areas and the implementation of security technology to guarantee the safety of employees and visitors. In addition, citizen educational programs and plaintiff orientation have been implemented to improve access to justice.
Reports and Articles