State Revenue and Appropriations
Funding Principles for Judicial Administration
Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times
Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses: Over the past four years, the number of judges has increased by 1% while the number of trial court staff has been reduced by 9% and the number of central office staff has been reduced by 15%; trial court operating expenses were reduced by 4%. The budget for central office staff is expected to increase by 3% in the coming year to fund a state wide self service center in the state law library.
Compensation: With the exception of a 1% cost of living increase in FY2013, salaries for judges and staff have been frozen.
Service Reductions: Over the past four years, the Utah courts have had staff layoffs and have delayed filling judicial vacancies and vacancies in the clerks’ offices and in judicial support positions.
Efficiency Measures: The Utah courts have implemented efficiency measures (e.g., electronic record) and alternate business practices (e.g., moving to an all digital record in place of court reporters) in order to avoid service reduction. They have increased the use of senior judges to cover judicial vacancies, and to address any backlogs. They have initiated case management improvements to avert delay. Performance measures indicate improved system performance over FY 2008.
Restructuring: The Utah courts have reallocated judges to districts based upon a weighted caseload, have changed jurisdiction to share judicial workload, have expanded the jurisdiction and use of subordinate judicial officers, consolidated clerk management positions and have reallocated staff.
Business Processes: The Utah courts have implemented an enhanced caseflow management program, have implemented “in-court updating” for docket entries and sentencing orders and have transitioned to digital recording of court proceedings. The courts use remote audio conferencing of interpreters for persons with limited English proficiency.
Outsourcing: The Utah courts outsource electronic filing. It is based on a model in which private sector vendors, if certified by the Administrative Office of the Courts, market to attorney e-filing services which interface with the AOC case management system.
Centralization: The Utah courts have a centralized payable center and centralized collections processing. E-payments are available for all levels of courts, including juvenile. E-payments are processed as a banking transaction, eliminating cash receipting and reconciliation by the clerks staff. Juror summoning and qualification have long been centralized.
The Utah courts are in a better position than in FY09 to provide access and timely justice. This has been accomplished by changing their business model, accelerating implementation of the electronic record, taking reductions where direct services were not impacted or where caseloads reductions warranted (juvenile probation), moving judicial and staff resources to where the need was greatest, and putting increased emphasis on management information and case management practices. These steps have resulted in improved performance, despite downsizing.
The Utah courts are trying to position their operations to their allocated budget and reduced staffing levels. When and if the budget situation improves, additional funds would be used primarily for addressing future growth or new initiatives, rather than restoring cuts.
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