At its public meeting on March 24 in San Francisco, the Judicial Council approved $23.5 million in grant funding to support programs to make local courts more efficient, accessible, and easier to use.

“These grant-funded programs will yield extraordinary results—not just for individual courts, but for the judicial branch and most importantly, the public we all serve,” said Judge David Rubin, chair of the council’s Judicial Branch Budget Committee, which oversaw the grant process. “Many of our courts have responded to branch budget cuts by being innovative and resourceful. But there is a limit to how far we can go—and at some point―innovation requires investment.”

The council approved 53 grants in 29 courts. In accordance with guidelines outlined in the state Budget Act, the council allocated most of the funding to collaborative courts, as well as self-help, family, and juvenile court programs.

Those grant-funded court programs include: a program to enable litigants in Placer County to access the court via videoconference from any location; a veterans court that will partner with a VA treatment facility in Contra Costa County; and a new approach to family and juvenile proceedings in El Dorado County that will use a triage process to link related cases through its case management system. All grantee courts will be required to report back on their progress and results on a quarterly basis. Watch

Other items on the March 24 council meeting agenda included:

New Resource for Immigrants: A judicial branch workgroup appointed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye highlighted a new online directory that will aggregate information and resources on immigration issues. The directory will include information on how a California state court case may affect immigration status, what to do when a parent is separated from a child, and where to find an immigration lawyer and avoid immigration scams. The directory will not provide legal advice or counsel. Watch

Court Technology: The council approved an update to the judicial branch’s Tactical Plan for Technology. The updated plan includes an analysis of existing technology plans, as well as the need for new initiatives. These include projects related to case management systems, document management, remote video services, e-filing, digital evidence, and other technology initiatives. Watch

Updates From Council Liaison Visits to Local Courts: The council heard liaison reports on the superior courts in Los Angeles and Mendocino Counties (liaison reports are subject to change). These reports give council members information on a court’s operations and challenges, as well as its solutions to increase efficiency and effectiveness in how it provides access to justice for the public. Watch (Mendocino report) — Watch (Los Angeles report)

An archived videocast of the entire meeting broken out by topic will be available on the council’s meeting information webpage.