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.
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.
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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