To our Trial Court Colleagues,
When we entered the initial Launch Phase of our strategy in July, we were all apprehensive of the enormity of the task in front of us. Now that we are more than three months into it, the Strategy Leadership Team (SLT) is truly impressed with progress on many fronts and is increasingly confident that most goals set for this initial phase seem within reach.
Some examples of further progress:
- One of the Trial Court goals is to educate the public and build more confidence in the court system. Now, court visits by Chief Justice Carey and Harry Spence are being used to obtain positive media coverage of work done in local courts. In addition to that coverage, two papers have invited them to submit an article about the strategic planning effort. Public Information Officer Jennifer Donahue also has begun to provide media training to expand the effective voice of the court in the external environment.
Internal communication uses the intranet, newsletters and other channels of information. Increasing the steady stream of information to you is critical to keep all staff informed, engaged and focused. Efforts such as identifying new employees, posting significant positive media coverage on the website, and expanding the use of broadcast emails are avenues being used to expand employee communication.
Similarly, regular dialog with the Legislature and Executive Branch is expanding and improving. While we have much more to do, these are big steps in building public and community leadership confidence in and understanding of the work of our courts.
And if you are aware of an upcoming event or activity that you think would communicate a positive message about the court and our work here, please email the Public Information Office at email@example.com, or advise any SLT member. You do good work, so let's make it known.
- Staffing Model 2.0 is gaining momentum with work groups now underway in all court departments, Probation, and Facilities. Work groups are digging into the analysis in a comprehensive and detailed way. The work has slowed some but all subcommittees are fully engaged and making progress. Our consultants, The Ripples Group, have recommended moving the target completion date out 30 days to January 2014. And a new work group will begin shortly in Security under the leadership of new Director Jeff Morrow.
- Transparency has been a key concern identified by employees. The names and departments of new Trial Court employees now are published on the intranet. A list of all those hired this year was posted and new lists will be published monthly. Similarly, development of the Staffing Model includes wide involvement throughout the organization with even more planned in the coming weeks. The resulting models will be available for review, comment, question and feedback before the working model is finalized. This will be a valuable way to broaden understanding of the model and to explain how this tool will inform resource planning and allocation, as the Trial Court continues to shape and refine its mission and work.
- September 30th was an important day for Specialty Courts. The Trial Court's Steering Group and the Inter-agency Steering Group (formed to enhance drug courts) met for a day-long session to develop a first draft of a long-term approach to drug, mental health, veterans, and other types of specialty, or "problem solving," courts. The draft sets a deliberate direction to mainstream specialty courts in the Trial Court and will be refined and finalized in the coming weeks. This effort highlights a deep collaboration by the Trial Court, the Department of Public Health, Department of Mental Health, treatment providers, and other interested participants.
- Probation has been piloting new approaches to streamline indigency reviews, including testing the improved Department of Revenue online access system. This four-court pilot is expected to last a number of weeks and will inform the functionality and process going forward. Its dual goals are to increase accuracy and reduce the work and complexity of this Probation function.
- Facilities Management leaders have developed standards for enhanced building cleanliness and maintenance that will be finalized by November. The department also has appointed regional managers to create an organizational infrastructure necessary to manage court buildings across the Commonwealth. Meanwhile, work continues on the planning of an electronic signage pilot with six vendor proposals currently under review.
These are just some examples of changes happening around us. When we began our work as an SLT in May, we did not expect the Trial Court to complete all that has been accomplished to date. A significant amount of work certainly has taken place.
We are tracking the deadlines for tactics identified in the plan and a number of tactics are very close to being "green lighted" – or designated on-time and on-track. We are close to achieving 80% green, a reasonable target. But we are being careful in our assessment so that we can help identify areas needing resources and attention.
The list of initiatives with green or close-to-green status is impressive. To name just a few: the Innovation Grant program, development and use of metrics by the Office of Court Management, a new, user-friendly website, MassCourts expansion and training, expanded use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), expansion of specialty courts, research on juror management practices, and more aggressive pursuit of grant funding.
As always, we encourage you to contact any SLT members listed below with questions, suggestions, or ideas for positive news stories.
The Trial Court Strategy Leadership Team:
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