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The Way I See It!

I am an Ultra-Conservative, Alpha-Male, True Authentic Leader, Type "C" Personality, who is very active in my community; whether it is donating time, clothes or money for Project Concern or going to Common Council meetings and voicing my opinions. As a blogger, I intend to provide a different viewpoint "The way I see it!" on various world, national and local issues with a few helpful tips & tidbits sprinkled in.

Transcript of 05/05/09 Personnel Meeting when John Zodrow was in front of the personnel committee

Court, Cudahy, Meeting

(TRANSCRIPT REGARDING PART-TIME COURT SYSTEM CLERK)

Personnel Committee:  05/05/09

                                                                                                         

Discussion and appropriate action regarding part-time help for court system:

 

The challenge that we face is that we do not have an adequate clerical staff to keep up with the volume of work that the court has to do.  This has been an ongoing problem for well over 10 years.  The court was behind in some respects when I took office 10 years ago and when I went before the Court personnel committee back then that first year to try to prevent the loss of the experienced court clerk from burn out from overwork I did not get the help I asked for.  In the meantime for a variety of reasons the workload has increased significantly and there is no way we can keep up with one court clerk.  The fact is that other courts with lower case loads then us have more clerical staff. South Milwaukee has either 1 ½ to 2 clerks they generally have about 2/3 of our case load.  Oak Creek has about 1 1/2 times our caseload they have 2 ½ clerks to our one.  We are also in a position where we are significantly out of compliance with the directive of the chief judge of Milwaukee County because we have a parking clerk in the police department who is defacto the court clerk of parking cases which is totally improperly.  I do have a copy of the relevant portion in the letter that was just passed to the committee members I think some of you may have seen that before, that situation is totally improper.  It is also totally improper for all of the computer records telling whether a court case has been adjudicated or not are in a [po0lice department computer that the court has no access to.  By state law I am the custodian of court records and I don’t even have the records, at least not the computer records.

 

I think some of you have seen a letter I wrote a few years ago detailing about 20 problems with the parking computer setup.  So, basically, what we need is another clerk and without that, we simply are not going to be able to do what we need to do.

 

Pavlic:  Any questions for the judge?

 

Otto:  What ideally would you need to be adequately staffed?

 

Judge:  I would say probably at least 1 1/2  more likely 2.

 

Otto:  I understand we are going through a computer upgrade, correct?

 

Judge:  We went live with our new computer records management system on August 1st of last year.

 

Otto:  So we are fully implemented?

 

Judge:  I don’t know if fully implemented would be the right term.  We are substantially I would say we are still adapting to it still getting forms into it piecemeal. Substantially, in some respects it has helped tremendously in that it has far more advanced capabilities then the prior system which was a dos based system dating back to the early 1990’s which in some way s was less advanced then a manual typewrite.  Increased efficiency unfortunately, the increase in efficiency has been offset by additional data entry.  Previously the court and the PD shared the Enforcer computer software package.  We are not on the same system anymore which in many ways is a good thing because the prior setup was not proper for a variety of reasons.  But, since we are not on the same system that means the court clerk has to do work she didn’t have to do before, mainly every single ticket that comes to court, she has to type in all of the data into the computer so that pretty much offsets the increases in efficiencies that the new system has given us.  In the long run, that will probably not be the case forever because I understand that the police department awhile back applied for a grant, to implement I think is called a track system which is computerized issuance of parking tickets, not parking tickets, all of the tickets.  If and when that is implemented that will relieve the court clerk of that burden because when the PD electronically transmits those tickets to Madison, our system is already set up and we can retrieve that data from Madison.  Until that happens we have that additional burden because somebody has to enter all of those tickets into the computer.

 

Otto:  You talked about potential conflict with the parking.  If there was an additional staff member is that what they would be working on, would that be a parking ticket clerk?

 

Judge: Ideally we would have enough personnel number one that every parking ticket that came to court could be entered in the court computer so we would have a record of it so we would be able to tell when a ticket was a court case or not, whether there was a judgment or not.  The parking ticket information we get is still from the old Enforcer System.  Parking computer system downloads the data into Enforcer which is where we get access to it too and the information is very sketchy.  IF we would get a ticket in there it doesn’t tell us has there been a plea, has there been a judgment.  IF the party shows up in Court should I be asking how do you plead or when are you going to pay this judgment.  It just doesn’t give that data.  Now from the years of experience we can make educated guesses from the fragmentary information that I sin there.  If I want to know for sure whether there is a judgment, I have to dig up the paper files or ask Jill in the police department.  In addition I would hope that we would also have adequate staff to help out the court clerk with data entry and various other tasks because, for one thing, she puts in a lot of overtime, which is I think expensive.

 

Chief Poellot:  to the judges point on enforcer that is an obsolete system at this point.  We are coming to the end of even entering data into that system. It is my understanding what he would need at that point is people who enter a not guilty plea for these parking violations just as other tickets he would need someone to enter that data into his system.  So at the point that they do become a court record at this point I don’t believe that Janet has the time available unless she would do it on overtime that she could even enter that data into her system.

 

Pavlic:  I don’t have a record of how much this person has.  There was some discussion on raising some fees to compensate to provide some type of help; one was to get you over the hump on the new computer system.  Is that a shift from the police department, not entering the tickets?

 

Chief Poellot: We would still need to keep track of everything.  What he is talking about is once they plead not guilty…

 

Judge:  Even if the party pleads guilty, we would need to have that because then it is a court case and we would then have to deal with setting up payment plans and so forth.  Somebody gets a ticket and just pays it without coming to court.  We don’t really need that information, in a hyper technical sense it is a court case because the payment is a no contest, as a practical matter we don’t have to keep track of that.  If the party enters a nonguilty plea even guilty or no contest please either in person or in writing then that is a court case and we have to deal with it.  As to your mentioning the fees, there was some discussion about perhaps raising the court costs.  When I started as judge, the court costs were $20.00 and the statutory maximum was $23.00.  About a year or two after I took office the state raised one or the other surcharges that gets added to most non parking tickets by $1.00 so we had to redo all of our deposit schedules so I guess as long as we have to redo them all, it’s just as easy to raise them by $4.00 instead of $1.00.  I was indulging in the hope that the extra $3.00 would be used to help pay for a clerk.  The common council back then approved the increase but I guess the money just went to the general fund, every since that extra $3.00 a ticket hasn’t come back to the court for clerical help.  The maximum is now $28.00 and we are still at $23.00.  Although I am not enthusiastic about raising that amount I would be willing to do it if the money would help pay for a clerk.

 

Litkowiec:  Would that expedite some of the payment or the court cases.  They are going to pay the fine, fact that you don’t have the information means you can’t turn it around quick enough right.

 

Judge:  It certainly slows it down.

 

Litkowiec:  Or is it just going to be …

 

Schissel:  If it went to $28.00 what potentially are you looking at as this lump sum fund for this extra person.  What would that give you per ticket?  What would be the kitty for that extra person, potentially?

 

Judge:  In most non traffic tickets, in most non parking tickets it’s currently $23.00 paid for court costs, if we bumped that up to $28.00 that would be $5.00 per ticket.  That would be say 3,000 tickets times $5.00 a head, now I don’t know if 3,000 is right... a lot of our cases are parking tickets especially since we have gotten the army of Community Service Officers to scour the City every night.

 

Schissel:  So this is basically a part-time position that you are looking at.  I know you are looking at a full time, but this was stipulated as part time

 

Pavlic:  I think we should try to go part time if we can if it’s two people splitting hours for data entry

 

Judge:  Another thing they could help with for example would be is covering the court office while court’s on so for example somebody calls in Monday morning and says my car won’t start, what can I do.  Half hour later they leave another message and half hour later they leave another message and 2 hours later the court clerk has a chance to check the messages.  And ideally, at some point there is a doorway that goes from the court clerk’s office to the police department lobby, ideally that should be made into a payment window so that she could actually take payments or at least answer questions from the public because right now the court clerk is totally isolated from the public there is no public access to the court clerk which is far from an ideal situation.  If we had another person or combination of part time persons we could have coverage for that, coverage for vacations, illnesses and well sooner or later the court clerk is going to quit or retire and there would be somebody already trained who could keep the thing going instead of starting from scratch.

 

Pavlic:   I’m not an advocate of adding someone and then I’m not going to collect more money just to break even or lose money.  If it’s hire someone for $7.00 and collect $5.00 I’ll tell you right now I won’t do it. It doesn’t seem like any value added to me.  If the intention is to collect more turn around more and obviously bring more money into the general fund, it is probably worthwhile going after that because if the ticket lapses your chances of getting that money is….

 

Judge:  I think anyone in the business of collections will tell you the older the debt is the less likely it is to be collected.  My goal would be that when the due date comes and goes that we give the defendant a grace period of two to three weeks and then start doing something about it.  Right now sometimes it’s months sometimes it’s years because we don’t have the staff.  To get on every past due ticket. Somebody comes under a new ticket we will hit them up on the old ones, but if he never comes in again and doesn’t pay that ticket will sit for years before we get to it and I don’t think that is a good situation.  We may put it into tax intercept but if the party does not get a tax refund or some other governmental unit is ahead of us in line.  The tax refund intercept is not that much work now with the new system.

 

Mikolajczak:  there was an audit done in your department and number 4 of the audit said the City should consider at least part time temporary clerical assistance to help you out and it did mention here raising the fees from $23 to $28.  However, it does have other things in here too such as creating a schedule of the outstanding tickets are going to be taken care of, working with the city attorney to process signed please negotiated and filing citations.  Is there a chance this might be done?

 

Judge:  If we don’t get help, probably not.  If we do, probably.  There are some nice suggestions in there but frankly most of them were things that would have been done years ago if we had the man hours to do it.

 

Mikolajczak:  How much of this is going to require a temporary system could take care of and how much of it would be maybe having another judge help you with the overload.

 

Judge:  We don’t need another judge, we need clerical help.

 

Joe:  This other person would be allowed to sign you signature to things to move it along.

 

Judge: I don’t understand what you mean.


Mikolajczak:  In the audit it mentioned there is a lot of money sitting on your desk and some of this may include more then just having another assistant it may include getting on some of these cases a little earlier which might help.  Once again, I see you here quite often and I’m not going to say you have a bad work ethic but I’m just kind of curious how much more work is going to have to be put in by other people to get this done. 

 

Ideally if we had the equivalent of two full time clerks that would be the ideal. I would say 1 ½ would be the bare minimum, I’m not sure that would be enough but a place to start.  As to things sitting on my desk I am not going to claim to be perfect there are things that sit there longer then they should on the other hand considering that the court clerk is so overburdened that several other people have to do part of her job.  I don’t have much of an incentive to clear stuff off my desk when a lot of it is just going to sit on hers for an extended period of time.  Quite frankly if we had additional staff it would encourage me to do more work faster because I see a point in it.  I don’t really see the point of moving things from one desk to another.

 

Litkowiec:  You had said that you weren’t sure about raising from $23.00 to $28.00 what would be your hesitation to not raise court costs. When you say you are in favor of it if we use it for getting extra help, don’t you think that would be kind of a deterrent if these people know they are going to be paying higher court costs, you don’t have apathy for these people do you?

 

Judge:  The court clerk tells me that she has been having to set up more payment plans then ever before which tells me that people are having difficulty paying things at the current amount on account of the cool economy so I’m not in any hurry to make it more difficult for people to pay.   If it’s what it takes to get the help, I will go along with it but just doing it for the sake of the city making more money and the court getting nothing out of it I don’t see the point in that.

 

Litkowiec:  So there is a little apathy, they are still committing the same amount of crime if not more with the recession, there still committing the same amount of crime if not more, so don’t pay, go to jail.

 

Judge:  That’s easy to say, but if we send them to jail the City pays again.  Let’s say somebody ahs a ticket for $100 and does not pay it.  He sits in jail for 3 days, he doesn’t have to pay the $100.  We pay about $62.00 for room and board plus $35.00 commitment fee, just about $100 out of pocket plus not collecting the $100 he would have paid, so we lose twice.  I don’t hesitate to do it, but it’s not a money maker all it is is a deterrent.

 

Litkowiec:  The current system doesn’t work since crime is going up.

 

In theory the City can bill those people for the cost of the incarceration, but that’s not the court’s responsibility.  I suppose the City could do it, some other department and if they don’t pay that maybe send it to tax refund intercept if the city does that, I’m not sure if they can do that.  We do actually spend quite a few thousand dollars a year for housing people in the house of correction.  In non traffic cases that’s what we normally do.  For one thing we no longer have the option of suspending a driver license4 for non traffic.  If they don’t pay, we send them a summons, if they don’t’ show up we sign the commitment, when they get picked up they either pay or go to jail.

 

Litkowiec:  How many call-ins let’s say, if they can’t make it to court because their car doesn’t start or something can they stroke out a speeding ticket for like seven years.  How long do you let this stuff slide and say hey, wake up for court a five hours earlier and walk here if you have to.

 

 

Judge:  If the party asks for a new court date, we generally give it to them maybe once or twice, we don’t adjourn it forever.  Usually it’s maybe twice before they have to come to court and ask rather then just doing it over the phone with the clerk.

 

Litkowiec:  You’ve let this guy go two times, if you can’t prove that my kid was in children’s hospital with the measles, here’s the thing… you are creating your own work letting them go a couple times, you’ve got to lay the iron fist down.

 

Judge:  We don’t get that many of those.  If it’s a matter of somebody who has a judgment that he owes and he comes to court for time to pay, normally I’m going to give it to him.

 

Litkowiec:  Yeah but he showed up, I’m talking about the people who call up and say hey, my car didn’t start.  Too bad…

 

Judge:  You mean for the initial appearance.

 

Litkowiec:  Yeah, or the second appearance whatever.  That seems like an extra step for you or the clerk to take.

 

Judge:  No those go on the docket for the following week or thereafter, they don’t sit.  However, if we are too aggressive in not giving people an adjournment then we generate more motions to reopen cases and those are more work then an adjournment.

 

Litkowiec:  Do they have to get lawyers to reopen these?

 

Judge:  No.  And it’s more work and more time consuming to handle one motion to reopen then it probably is to handle a dozen adjournments. The amount of work involved in those is mini um.

 

Litkowiec:  I just grew up learning that if you get a ticket and don’t show up in court, you’re done, you pay.  I didn’t know I could just call up and say I don’t’ feel well….

 

Judge:  I think that’s pretty much standard practice in municipal courts around the state.  For one thing state law does say that default judgments are disfavored and if the party has any half way decent reason and you just go ahead and default immediately you just generate more motions to reopen.  I don’t think it gets u ahead any, I think it’s a wash if anything.  Now, if somebody doesn’t call, yeah normally he’s going to be defaulted that day.  If he calls and says my car doesn’t start or I’m sick or whatever, we put it off to the follow Monday.

 

Schissel:  Do they have to prove their excuses.

 

Judge:  If somebody offers a halfway decent reason or even a quarter way decent reason for asking for an adjournment for a week or two, I’m normally going to give it to them without putting them on the ropes; I’m not going to put it off for six months.

 

Schissel:  What is a halfway decent reason?

 

Judge:  Pretty much anything that passes the giggle test.  If I hear the excuse and I start giggling.

 

Mayor:  If someone has an initial plea day and they don’t show up at all don’t call are they just found guilty.

 

Judge:  Normally, unless the ticket was mailed instead of served because then we do not have the authority to do a default judgment, in those cases we would normally issue a warrant.  Unless it was a juvenile case in which I require mandatory appearances.

 

Mayor:  When you first started here there was no bailiff right.

 

Judge:  I don’t specifically recall.

Mayor:  I remember the court clerk coming to me and saying we’ve got to have a bailiff for security reasons for efficiencies and such.  So I worked with the police department common council personnel committee and presented CSO to serve as bailiff and save a lot of money.  One of the things I was told in doing that is that it would create efficiencies because the court clerk currently answers a lot of questions from the public so she can’t work.  What are the efficiencies that have been created since we got the bailiff...  I was told that it would be a 50% increase in productivity because half the person’s time in court is dealing with the public and if you have a bailiff they won’t have to deal with it.

 

Judge:  If you were told that there would be a 50% increase in inefficiency then somebody misspoke or you need to have your ears cleaned.  Because, 50% is off by at least an order of magnitude.

 

Mayor:  Let me quantify, in court.

 

Judge:  That’s what I am referring to.  Maybe it saves me 15 minutes on a Monday, maybe ½ hour but I think that would be pushing it.  The main reason for having a bailiff there is for security. 

 

Mayor:  Then I was misled.

 

Judge: I don’t know who told you that because that is so far divorced from reality I can’t believe anybody would say that.

 

Schissel:  That’s the bailiff’s primary function, security?

 

Judge”:   As far as I’m concerned, the primary function is security, the secondary function would be assisting… for example – somebody pleads guilty we give them a notice with the amount.  If we don’t have a bailiff the clerk has to get up out of her chair, walk down to the copy machine take it to the party come back up.  If there is a bailiff there, she can go on to the next case; he takes it out of the machine and hands it to the party.

 

Mayor:  I believe the Personnel commission was under the assumption as well, the efficiency.

 

Judge:  It definitely helps – I’ve been in court with a bailiff and without a bailiff it more efficient with a bailiff.  We get people in and out quicker.

 

Mikolajczak:  It would determine how many cases you do in a night or in a day.

 

Judge:  No, we do however many cases are there.  If it’s 20 cases we do 20 if its 225 we do 225.

 

Mikolajczak:  I mean based on efficiency and somebody helping you out.  If there is 20 cases he’s helping that if there is 200 cases he’s helping that which means it’s more efficient.

 

Judge:  When the efficiency is greater we can be finished sooner which means the clerk can get back in her office and do work instead of sitting in the court room.

 

Chief Poellot:  I have one point.  All police and court records were co-mingled the judge would be in the police department going through police files to get court records.  At this point we have separated those records.  There needs to be a representative from the police department in there at this point so that we can track and document what is taking place in court and bring that information back to the police department to keep our records straight.  Minus that court liaison officer at this point we would have no mechanism to do that other then to take somebody off the road and put him in to court.  On days that we don’t have a court officer that is exactly what happens, a sergeant or other police officer goes in there.  At this point we have also put a mechanism in place to insure that everything scheduled for court that day is acted upon that day.  The judge acts on every single case if he needs to see the report it is given to him by the bailiff or the CLO and the judge makes a ruling on it and at that point the bailiff takes that information back and notes what the ruling was on that case.  So at this point there is a vital need for that CLO and minus that we would have no way to exchange information between the court and the police department.  He needs the version of the officer of the incident to make a ruling in the case; he needs to see what happened.

 

Mayor:  Would your clerk concur with your assessment that you need another clerk.

 

Judge:  I’m sure she would, you can ask her if you want to.

 

Mayor:  I haven’t.

 

Schissel:  How huge is the backlog.  Are we a week behind, are we two weeks behind, what are we talking about?  It would appear to me that if I broke the law and I had a ticket, I would have a certain timeframe to clean that mess up.  I think we give too much leeway to people to come forward and do the right thing.  If you gave them 2 weeks or whatever the amount of time to pay their citation, when we have gotten parking tickets in the past, we had 10 days and I’m on it.  If you are a responsible citizen… this idea of payment plan doesn’t work for me because I have scruples, family values and everybody else in the City has the same fire to hold up to.  I don’t understand how you go back to a case and give a couple more weeks and couple more weeks.  If you are told to be there on a date, you should be there.  When people are given an out, they are going to take an out.

 

Litkowiec:  You pay now; if you can’t you have to have a judgment.  Nowadays they run you on CCAP, when it starts affecting your personal life that’s a deterrent.

 

Judge:  Our cases do not go on CCAP.

 

Litkowiec:  Somebody will find out if you have a judgment for money.

 

Judge:  It depends on the type of case.  Some cases you can find out from other sources and some you can’t, unless you check with us.

 

Litkowiec:  why aren’t we on CCAP.

 

Judge:  CCAP is for circuit court.

 

Schissel; Milwaukee has a municipal cite.

 

Judge:  Milwaukee also has unlimited resources and has a whole department to handle that sort of thing.  We don’t even have half the staff we need, we are not looking for extra work.

 

Mayor:  I think what would be good for us if the judge would be willing to up the fine.  He stated that we will have to go to 742 to negotiate what we are going to pay this person because it probably will have to be a union person. 

 

Judge:  The current court clerk is a union person and I’m not entirely persuaded that that is entirely proper.  I just heard recently of a court in Fon du lac where the union agreed to take the court clerk out of the union because they agreed it was not proper.

 

Mayor:  I think if the judge agrees to have a $5.00 surcharge it needs to be at maximum cost neutral to off set this person.  You said that could be accomplished?

 

Judge:  I’m not going to make any guarantees, but I think so.

 

Mayor:  it simply has to be that way.  We are looking at massive cuts from state government like 5% shared revenue cut $300,000 cut on top of the $50,000 this year; they continue to snowball so we are going to have a shortfall.

 

Judge:  Maybe if you spend a little less money on remodeling half the offices in the building.

 

Mayor:  That’s not on the tax roll.

 

Judge:  I just find it a little hard to swallow when I see all kinds of unnecessary remodeling going on when something we really need…

 

Mayor: It wasn’t unnecessary.

 

Pavlic:  I agree with the mayor.  I think we need the $5.00 I think we have to agree on 20 hour week part-time whatever.  I think we have to get 742 to agree.  If they disagree and they have some outrageous, the deal is off.  It’s not that it’s what you want, if all three do not come together it’s dead in the water.  It has to pay for itself, we can’t be running a deficit, we might as well not hire anyone.

 

Mikolajczak:  If it was a temporary position, would we have to go to them? 

 

Pavlic:  I think we need to ask.

 

Mikolajczak:  the recommendation from the audit was a temporary part time position.  When we are looking at what is 742 going to ask for in the way of wages and looking at the extra $5.00 times how many cases is that going to be enough.

 

Pavlic:  3,000 tickets x $5.00

 

Mikolajczak:  They said an average of 4,000 cases a year.

 

Litkowiec:  What is the backlog at?  What is it?  Are we still trying cases from a couple years or a couple months ago?

 

Judge:  Some are relatively recent; some have been around for awhile.  It depends on the type of case.

 

Litkowiec:  I mean like would this person basically let you catch up or would you still be just a little behind with this person.  Would you catch up and now we can start churning out more and more case?

 

Judge:  My hope is that we will process things more expeditiously.  Not only current cases but also enforcement of past due cases.

 

Otto:  I think everybody on the committee is open to the idea of possibly hiring somebody.  I think I would like to know the expectation of the benefits.  How would it benefit the court system?  It has to be cost neutral.  We have to look at what is the benefit.  Are we going to make some headway on our backlog?  Are we going to process things faster?  Whatever you feel how it would benefit the court system I think would give us some indication.

 

Mikolajczak:  Auditor said there should be a schedule created of when these would come through.

 

Judge:  That doesn’t make any sense to put a schedule if you don’t’ have the people to keep up with the schedule.  As far as I’m concerned that’s useless busy work.  The time we spend screwing around with stuff like that is less time we are actually doing the real work.

 

Litkowiec:  You should be able to make an educated guess out loud….

 

Judge:  Alright, one of the things we could do, well depending on how much extra man hours we get would be to reduce overtime expenses.  Another thing we could conceivably do and we probably would would be to get enforcement action done quicker when people miss their due dates.  I don’t like it if the court clerk brings me a commitment summons on a case and the due date was 5 ½ years ago.  That’s not typical but it has happened a couple of times.  I’d rather see it a couple weeks after the due date not years after the due date.  I would also think we need to look at taking care of the parking issue we discussed earlier when we don’t even have the parking tickets in the court for our court cases.  I think by having more people available to answer phones, the court clerk spends less time listening to the same phone message 3 or 4 times from the same person because the party did not bet an answer the first time.  Filing would be done quicker and make it easier to find things when we need them.  There is any number of way s we can be more efficient if we have the manpower to do it.  Overall I think it would help us to cut costs and overtime as I said and when you enforce judgments faster you are more likely to collect them.

 

Litkowiec:  What kind of questions are these people calling and asking? 

 

Judge:  they will be asking things like, I can’t make it to court today for whatever reason, what do I do, can I come later, can I reschedule.  A lot of these people it is their first time dealing with the court system they don’t know what’s going on.  Let’s face it a lot of them are not too bright, they don’t know what’s going on.  The language on the back of the ticket is not that reader friendly.  If somebody calls up and says my kid is sick, I have to take them to the hospital, what do I do, do I come later, when is the next court date, what do I do.  I would rather have somebody there who can answer the phone and say ok can you come in this afternoon or can we reschedule you for next week.

 

Schissel:  Is our backlog comprised of one timers or repeaters?  What is the stack comprised of?  If they haven’t paid by now, 2 years old, they are not going to pay.  We shouldn’t have waited this long for the backlog to grow that big. I don’t’ understand and have we had this backlog for 10 years?  You said something about 10 years ago.

 

Judge:  Because we don’t have the man-hours to do what needs to be done.  We didn’t have it 10 years ago and it’s worse now because it’s been accumulating for 10 years. 

 

Schissel:  If we told them to pay 10 years ago and they didn’t pay on January 10, we wouldn’t have to worry a bout it, they would either have been in jail, tax intercept.  If we had dealt with it we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about this.

 

Judge:  10 years ago, when I took over, the court was understaffed.  There were current with the adjudications they were months behind on the enforcement, it was typically anywhere from 6-9 months after a due date before anything was done.  They were not doing tax refund intercept and they were cutting a lot of corners to keep up to where they were including not keeping accurate records of convictions in the computer and including violating several laws wholesale.  People’s rights under state law were being violated weekly.  People were being thrown in jail for not paying judgments that were null and utterly void.  They didn’t have the staff to keep up with things so they were having to cut legal corners to try to keep u p.  I decided not to cut those legal corners and that put us further behind.  In the meantime, we had state laws passed that increased the amount of paperwork we had to do especially in juvenile cases as well as various types of other things we needed to check and we had a greater proportion of more time intensive cases.  When I started we hardly had any truancy cases, we started getting a lot of them.  We hardly had any cases for overdue library materials, once the new library was built and they were finished dealing with that and they started going through their files, we started getting racks of tickets for overdue library materials which take more time then usual because they want restitution.  Every one of those tickets involves generating a restitution sentence holding a restitution hearing, it’s more time consuming.  And of course we’ve had an inundation of parking tickets.

 

Schissel:  Is the majority, bulk of tickets parking tickets?

 

Judge:  A few weeks ago I happened to think boy t his is an awful lot of parking tickets for pre trial.  I counted them, there were 86 cases at pretrial and 60 were parking.  We get a lot of parking tickets, a lot more then we used to and we haven’t had any extra staff to process those parking tickets either.  These are people who actually have come to court on their parking tickets.  Some are contesting, some are hoping to work a deal, some are just playing the system to buy time.  Set the ticket for $25.00 go down to the police department fill out the form you get a date for pretrial conference you don’t show up for pretrial conference you get a bill.

 

Litkowiec:  Your pile is getting high, but you are in no hurry because her pile is high – two unmotivated people is a flaw.

 

Judge:  I will say that my motivation would be higher to get things done quicker if I thought it would have more of an effect then just moving piles from one table to another.  I never said, she lacked motivation…..I will say what I sometimes fear is that if we end up with a court clerk who quits because she’s burned out from overwork and we’re back at square one having to start over with someone with no training or experience it could take months or a year to get back where we were because there is so much to learn.  I’ve been through this before.  When I came on board 10 years ago, we had an experience clerk who’d been here for years and I could tell within weeks that she was getting burned out from overwork.  I went to the personnel committee, of course back then I got before them in I think three or four weeks instead of having to wait a year and a half like I had to this time.  I didn’t get the help.  The following year she quit and we were stuck.  We had to start over with a new clerk who had no experience and there was a lag time where there was no clerk at all.  Police Chief secretary was filling in in court but for doing paperwork it was just piling up.  I don’t want to see that happen again.  I don’t want to have the court clerk to think it is never going to get better, it’s just going to get worse why am I staying here when I could work somewhere else.  I want her to see a light at the end of the tunnel that she can be reasonably sure is not an oncoming train.  I would rather have additional personnel because sooner or later she is going to leave, I would rather have other people who are already trained.  At least one, preferably two.  I would rather have someone here who can fill in for her if she’s going to be on vacation so we don’t end up cancelling a court date.

 

Chief Poellot:  In concept I do, as chief of police, support the idea that he would get more help there.  According to the audit 37.5% …

 

Judge:  I don’t’ put much stock in those numbers because they were so screwed up royally.

 

Chief Poellot:  It would have helped if you had helped with it.  The 37.5% of all the tickets being written weren’t even making it into court; we are talking about a number of about $800,000 potentially hanging out there that hasn’t been collected. $400,000 of that since 2004 that hasn’t even made it to court.  By meeting with the clerks, the judge and the City Attorney we have been able to implement some processes working cooperatively that we have been able to make some serious headway on some of that.  There are other things that have been suggested that we still haven’t implemented.  I haven’t given up hope that the judge is going to consider the community service program that I personally developed and have experience working with for many years.  The City Attorney I know is on board with that.

 

Judge:  I told you the changes you need to make for me to consider it.

 

Chief Poellot:  I would also suggest that maybe you wouldn’t spend a half hour 45 minutes or an hour on initial appearances with juveniles.

 

Judge:  Here we go again.

 

Chief Poellot:  Yup, those are serious ways to save time.

 

Judge:  I am so tired of hearing this whining about supposed 45 min to an hour session that if it happens 3 times a year is a lot.  The fact is, if it takes an hour to handle a case, that’s how long it’s going to take.  I’m not going to rush through it because you want me to.  It’s going to take as long as it takes.

 

Otto:  It sounds like the Personnel Committee has to investigate if the union is interested.

 

Pavlic:  Make sure we get everything aligned.

 

Otto:  I want an expectation; I want to see the light at the end of the tunnel as well.  What is the expectation going to be if we hire a person and I want specifics.

 

Pavlic:  If we have a backlog of what’s there and we need to build a level of progress.  Otherwise, I’m not going to through money unless it does something.

 

Judge:  In terms of the trip program with our new system, it takes very little to do.  It does it all electronically.  The clerk instructs the system all of the cases eligible, look to see if any need to be deleted and they all go.  It is practically not time at all.

 

Pavlic:  I need to summarize what this means and I guess

 

Otto:  He needs to summarize the benefits

 

Judge:  It seems to me I’ve already run through those at this meeting.

 

Pavlic:  Benefits, fee increase, get in contact with 742 and this is just the first step – if I had this I would get this.  WE would go from there?  Asked the judge to figure out if a part-time person were hired for 20 hours a week, project what that will do for your backlog.

 

Judge:  So you want me to pick some numbers out of the air to make it sound good.

 

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