To our Trial Court Colleagues,
Who says summer is our slow season? In reviewing the status of the 50 or so “Launch Phase” tactics at our August 22nd meeting, we remain very impressed with the progress on so many fronts. Each month the Strategy Leadership Team (SLT) rates the status of each tactic as “red” (delayed) or “green” (moving forward), and we are glad to report that they are all green at this point.
It is often hard to step back and see this progress in our day-to-day activities. We realize that for many of our colleagues it may feel as though nothing is changing. However, when you see the overall progress on many issues, you get a great sense that we are creating our future step by step. A few examples:
- Greenfield and Brooke courthouse teams are working on cross-department Court Service Center pilots to lessen the burden on all of the departments in these court houses. Once the pilots are completed, the goal is to initially roll out such centers in the largest multi-department courthouses using the lessons learned.
Dignity & Speed
We know how stretched court staff is across the state. As we focus on operating with Dignity and Speed – moving cases through the system as efficiently as possible – staffing and technology issues are critical. Much is being done:
- Critical hires – since January 159 people have been hired, 247 promoted, and 31 applied to positions in other offices and transferred. We anticipate some additional critical hires and continued hiring to address steady attrition.
- E-mail access has been substantially increased, e-filing pilots are starting, and MassCourts is being implemented in the Superior Court. We have just hired a video-conferencing manager to help us more effectively use our video equipment. Work is progressing on development of a new Records Retention policy that should allow more scanning and reduce the volume of stored files. Slowly but surely, technology is helping us improve the way we conduct the work of the courts.
- Many other process improvements also are possible. The BMC will pilot use of a central call center to alleviate call volumes in Clerks offices. Probation is investigating new ways to do indigency reviews that now take too much time. And court divisions in all departments are piloting staggered scheduling or extended hours to better meet the needs of court users and balance workload.
- Staffing Model 2.0 – which will include Probation, Security and Facilities, as well as Clerks’ offices and Judges’ lobbies – is now being developed with teams already formed in each court department and soon in Probation, Facilities and Security.
Our work environment needs to be dignified too. We are pleased to report that:
- Facilities Management under the leadership of John Bello is getting great reviews on its responsiveness to maintenance requests received through the new online system. Now, there is a simple way to report a problem and get a resolution or update on your request! Already 69 requests have been submitted with 41 completed, 24 pending and 4 outsourced.
- Maintenance work to paint walls, replace worn carpet and broken chairs, and fix HVAC systems is underway in needy courthouses across the state.
- Efforts are underway on our long-range capital plan, working with the Commonwealth's Division of Capital Asset Management & Maintenance (DCAMM). This will encompass a review and planning for all facilities in the court system.
And some projects also face challenges. The re-design and conversion to a new platform for a Judiciary-wide, public web-site, for instance, is turning out to be much more time consuming than anticipated, and the December launch may need adjustment. Imagine recreating hundreds of pages of detailed legal opinions with all of those citations. And collecting shared content from multiple sources and assigning it to be available primarily by topic – not by department – since that is what public users know. But the team is very motivated, making steady progress and forging ahead.
Looking across the entire system, we see an organization that accepts responsibility not only to do its day-to-day work but also to continuously modernize and improve. Just as important, we are shedding our traditionally reactive posture and becoming more proactive – to become the Trial Court you described in the planning surveys and focus groups.
We hope that the ongoing local court meetings to discuss the strategic plan will help demonstrate leadership commitment and build your support and involvement in these efforts.
Please feel free to contact any SLT member with suggestions or questions.
Strategy Leadership Team Members
Hon. Paula Carey, Chief Justice of the Trial Court
Harry Spence, Court Administrator
Paul Burke, Deputy Court Administrator, Housing Court
Craig Burlingame, Chief Information Officer
Hon. Terry Craven, First Justice, Suffolk County Juvenile Court
Mark Conlon, Director of Human Resources
Edward Dolan, Commissioner of Probation
Hon. Michael Edgerton, Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court
Hon. Judith Fabricant, Associate Justice, Superior Court
Hon. Dina Fein, First Justice, Western Division Housing Court
Chris Fox, Associate Court Administrator
John Gay, Clerk-Magistrate, Springfield District Court
Daniel Hogan, Clerk-Magistrate, BMC Central Division
Tara DeCristofaro Melo, Register, Middlesex County
Richard O'Neil, Probation Supervisor, Probate and Family Court
Mary Rafferty, Senior Assistant for Administration & Communications
Cynthia Robinson Markey, Legal Counsel, BMC
Michael Sullivan, Superior Court Clerk of Courts, Middlesex County
Hon. Maureen Walsh, First Justice, Holyoke District Court
Kim Wright, Senior Assistant for Judicial Policy
Jill Ziter, Deputy Court Administrator, Land Court