News Release

Council Approves New Formula for Ranking Judicial Need

The formula forms the basis of the Judicial Needs Assessment, which estimates California needs an additional 173 judges.
Sep 24, 2019

SACRAMENTO—The Judicial Council at its September 24 business meeting approved an update to the formula to determine judicial workloads around the state. The council in July asked for additional analysis to ensure the proper representation of variously sized courts. The updated model recognizes the unique environment in small courts, while also reflecting the efficiencies found in larger ones.

The formula relies on three main factors to determine judicial need: the number of case filings in each superior court, the types and complexity of those cases, and the amount of time a judicial officer has to work on cases per year.

The formula forms the basis of the Judicial Needs Assessment, which prioritizes judgeship needs in counties around the state. The study estimates California needs an additional 173 judges. Watch

Other items on the council meeting agenda include:

Judicial Diversity Toolkit: The council saw a new online toolkit designed to increase the diversity of applicants for judicial appointment in California. The toolkit for judicial officers and courts includes models of mentorship programs, seminars, and other educational events to help them reach diverse communities in their counties. Watch

Fresno’s Human Trafficking Court: The council heard from Fresno court leaders about the court’s project to help the growing number of trafficked youth, as well as runaway, homeless, and other vulnerable children at risk of exploitation. Fresno presenters explained how each participant in this special court has a personalized safety plan and goals to help them rebuild their lives. The council also heard from a recent graduate who expressed her appreciation for the court and for the personal interest the program coordinators took in her success. The project is one of 50 programs supported by the Court Innovations Grant Program to promote court innovations and efficiencies. Watch

Increasing Language Access in Courthouses: The council created a new grant program to disburse $2.55 million each year for language access signs, technology support, and equipment needs for the trial courts and the Judicial Council. Specific tools include electronic signage and audio/video remote solutions to assist limited English proficient court users. Watch

Interpreter Credential Review Procedures: The council adopted standards and requirements for interpreter discipline at the credentialing level, as well as a new process for receiving and addressing complaints filed against California certified court and registered interpreters concerning their performance as an interpreter. The council’s action aligns the profession of court interpreting with the majority of professional level occupations that have standards of professional conduct and disciplinary procedures in place. Watch

Ensuring Qualified Appointed Counsel in Probate Conservatorships and Guardianships: The council updated court rules on the qualifications and education required for counsel appointed to represent wards and conservatees in probate proceedings. The changes help ensure effective representation and simplify the certification process.

Supporting Collaborative Justice: The council allocated nearly $1.2 million for collaborative justice court programs. These programs—which include drug, veterans, DUI, elder, truancy, and mental health courts—are also known as problem-solving courts that combine judicial supervision with rigorously monitored rehabilitation services.

Simplifying the Service Process for Clearing Criminal Records: The council adopted a new proof of service form and accompanying information sheet for petitioners wishing to clear their criminal records. The new materials use plain language and aim to simplify the process for people without attorneys.

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