Client: A Mid-Sized California Superior Court

The Challenge: Through an assertive case management process, the court excelled at disposing of civil cases within established timeframes. Nonetheless, the Civil Division wrestled with:

  • an ineffective structure organized by case type (e.g., limited versus unlimited civil cases) rather than function (e.g., calendaring), despite unification of the Superior and Municipal courts a decade earlier,
  • complaints from judges that files were incomplete,
  • processing backlogs,
  • unclear workload standards, and
  • high employee turnover.

The court was looking for structures and systems to reduce backlogs and measure performance. It also sought an evaluation of appropriate staffing levels once organizational improvements were made.

Our Approach:

In the course of the analysis, we:

  • Interviewed Civil Division judges, managers, supervisors, lead workers and staff.
  • Observed work processes. diagrammed workflow and measured backlogs.
  • Benchmarked the court’s organizational structure, work practices and performance against those of other California courts with a similar ratio of civil filings to judicial positions.
  • Evaluated the division’s financial controls and use of the capabilities of the automated system.

The Results

  • A recommended functional organizational structure and redistribution of work assignments.
  • Increased responsibilities and opportunities for lead workers.
  • Elimination of unnecessary tasks.
  • Workload standards and mechanisms for reporting about timeliness of work.
  • Improved financial accountability by reducing the number of staff handling payments.
  • Increased training in use of the automated system.
  • A recommendation to reevaluate staffing needs against workload standards in six months.

Consultants: Kate Harrison and Phyllis Smith

If you'd like to know how you can achieve these types of results in your agency, please visit our website at www.kateharrisonconsulting.com or call Kate at (510) 524-2154. For more information about this project, please click here to request the Executive Summary.

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