State Revenue and Appropriations
Funding Principles for Judicial Administration
1) A judicial technology improvement fund of approximately $4.5 million is included in the Judiciary’s appropriation to be used for technology innovations at the trial courts. These include the development of an upgraded case management system, e-filing, e-ticketing, a judicial data warehouse, and video conferencing. The Judiciary is developing requests for additional funding in FY 2014 to accelerate the progress on these projects.
1) The Judiciary has been working with the Michigan Departments of Corrections, Human Services, State Police, and Community Health to reduce travel between prisons and mental health facilities and courts through video conferencing and to more effectively share information between agencies and the courts. A new and better-organized web site debuted October 2012 to provide better access to information. A self-help web site was also introduced in 2012. The citizens have benefitted by being able to pay traffic tickets on-line. Attorneys have improved access to courts who have implemented e-filing.
Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times
Over the past four years, the number of judges has decreased 1%; the number of central office staff has increased 3%.
Service Reductions: State Judicial Branch employees had six unpaid furlough days in FY 2009.
Compensation: Over the past four years, the state-funded courts have frozen the salaries of judicial officers and court staff and furloughed court staff. The last salary increase for judges was effective 1/1/2002. State Judicial Branch employees received a 2% salary increase effective 4/1/2007 and did not receive another increase until 10/1/2013 (3%). Employee contributions to health insurance costs have increased from 5% in FY 2008 to 10% in FY 2009 to 20% in FY 2013. In the coming year, salaries of judicial officers will remain frozen.
Efficiency Measures: The Michigan courts have begun implementing e-filing and an enhanced case management system. They enable law enforcement to file e-citations. Persons can make e-payment of fees. The courts have created virtual self-help centers. In the coming year, the courts will begin to implement an electronic document management system and continue to expand the other technology efficiencies.
Restructuring: Over the past four years, Michigan has consolidated the number of districts and reallocated judges to districts based upon weighted caseload. They have made changes to jurisdiction to share judicial workload.
Business Processes: The courts are implementing videoconferencing of incarcerated defendants and detained juveniles. In the coming years, they will implement an enhanced caseflow management program.
Centralization: The courts are in the process of centralizing traffic citation processing.
Special Commissions: In 2009, the State Bar of Michigan formed a Judicial Crossroads Task Force including 28 lawyers and judges. The task force issued a report in 2011 which included recommendations to reduce judgeships where needed, create specialized dockets such as business, and putting in a standardized statewide computer case-management system. An Indigent Defense Advisory Committee has recommended new standards and increased funding for court-appointed criminal attorneys.
The Michigan courts are in a better position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice. The financial situation in the state appears to have stabilized. Steps taken to improve efficiencies, particularly through technology and the use of performance measures, leave the courts better positioned to provide access and timely justice.
Reports and Articles
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