Client: A Large California Superior Court

The Challenge: The court wanted to enhance its collections program to ensure greater and faster compliance with court orders, help judicial officers make informed decisions about defendants’ financial circumstances, ensure consistent sanctions across multiple locations and generate revenues for the county, court and state. The potential for expansion of collections efforts in the California courts is large, as they do not use many available practices or actively collect on many case types and lack the needed staffing or technological infrastructure to expand their programs.

Our Approach:

We began by facilitating a session with court managers and staff to identify current collections practices and barriers to increased enforcement. We estimated the number of potential cases for which sanctions could be enforced. We then evaluated the practices of effective California collections programs. While these programs differ in scope and approach, they share a common philosophy and many common elements:

  • Bench officers, the executive office, operations staff and finance staff concur about the appropriate steps to be taken and the collections’ unit is closely integrated with operations.
  • Each of these courts uses as many available techniques as possible.
  • Defendants are sent directly to the collections unit from court to establish payment plans. Bench officers determine only whether the party can pay in full or requires a payment plan.
  • The court obtains and verifies litigants’ identifying information each time they contact the court.
  • The court does not discharge accountability for fines due.
  • Warrants and collections are not mutually exclusive; the court continues to pursue collections when warrants are issued.
  • The collections unit uses private vendors to generate notices/courtesy envelopes.
  • The unit has adequate internal technological tools and staffing.

The Results

The court expects one-time revenue collections of nearly $30 million, half to accrue to the court. On an ongoing basis, the court can expect to collect an additional $4.7 million per year in court retained revenues. The study also resulted in a new organizational structure for the collections’ unit, with eight staff added. The cost of these staff will be more than offset by expected increases in revenue collections.

Consultants: Kate Harrison and Jessica Fiske-Bailey

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.

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