The Judicial Council at its July 27-28 business meeting will consider proposed updates to part of the model used to determine how the state’s 58 trial courts are funded.
The council uses the Workload-Based Allocation and Funding Methodology (WAFM) to decide how much funding each trial court receives annually, based on the workload at each court. The council will consider a proposal to update the Resource Assessment Study model, which is used as part of WAFM to weigh both the number and type of cases handled when determining a court’s workload. A traffic infraction, for example, takes far fewer resources and staff than does a complex felony, and is given less weight in the calculation.
The council last updated the resource model in 2013, realizing that ongoing adjustments would continue to keep up with policy changes that affect work in the courts. Proposition 47, Assembly Bill 109, and Assembly Bill 1657 are all examples of recent initiatives and statutes that have altered court workload.
Other items on the July 27-28 council meeting agenda include:
Requesting Adjustments to Workload-Based Allocation and Funding Methodology (WAFM): The council will consider revisions to its procedure for requesting adjustments to its funding methodology for the trial courts. The proposed revisions are mostly technical changes related to timing of the process.
Providing Legal Representation in Civil Cases: Pursuant to the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act, the council will consider grants for pilot projects that provide legal representation for low-income litigants in civil cases affecting basic human needs. The council will also consider a progress report to the legislature, the first to measure the impact of pilot programs that have provided legal representation to 27,000 people facing landlord/tenant matters, highly conflicted child custody cases, and guardianship and conservatorship matters.
Court Technology Update: The council will receive an update on its Court Technology Governance and Strategic Plan and current technology issues in the trial courts. The update will also highlight recent changes to the council’s Information Technology office that better aligns its structure with the business needs of the branch.
Courthouse Closures or Reduced Hours: Per statute and its normal meeting procedures, the council will receive a report on which trial courts have closed courtrooms or clerks’ offices or reduced clerks’ office hours because of budget challenges. Since the previous report, 5 superior courts—San Diego, San Joaquin, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, and Tulare Counties have issued new notices of closures or reductions.