Courts Help Californians Save Millions With Online Tool for Requesting Fine and Fee Reductions
VIA VIDEOCONFERENCE—The council at its March 24 business meeting will receive a report on the MyCitations program, an online tool that allows people with infraction violations to request a reduction in what they owe. Nearly six out of every ten court filings in California are infractions, and more than 95% of those are traffic cases.
The MyCitations tool launched in April 2019 and as of January 1, 2023:
- More than 45,000 litigants had submitted over 66,000 ability-to-pay requests, accounting for more than $41 million in outstanding fines and fees
- Courts had granted more than $20 million in fine and fee reductions
- Nearly 46% of litigants who used the tool had reported they receive public benefits and just over 88% reported incomes at or below the poverty line
The MyCitations report also contains results from the program’s pilot period, which ran from April 2019 through July 2021. That evaluation found litigants are more likely to repay in full as the amount ordered decreases—cases granted a reduction had a 61% success rate for full repayment, while cases denied relief had only a 29% success rate.
Since January 1, five additional courts have come on board, bringing the total to 21 courts using the online tool. The council anticipates adding the remaining 37 superior courts and achieving statewide implementation by June 30, 2024.
Other items on the March 24 council meeting agenda include:
Funding to Help Public Listen to Courtroom Proceedings: The council will consider a recommendation on how to allocate funding to support Assembly Bill 716, which requires an audio stream or telephonic means for listening to courtroom proceedings when the courthouse is physically closed to public. Per the funding proposal, 28 courts would receive funding to make audio upgrades to courthouses built before the year 2000, which accounts for approximately 1,775 (or 85%) of courtrooms in the state.
Terms of Commitment to Secure Youth Treatment Facilities: The council will consider the adoption of a rule of court to implement Welfare and Institutions Code section 875(h), which requires the council to create a matrix of terms of commitment meeting the developmental and treatment needs of youth. Judicial officers would choose from this matrix when ordering youth to a Secure Youth Treatment Facility (SYTF). Input on the proposed matrix was gathered from a diverse working group of stakeholders that included attorneys, probation, behavioral health, and youth advocates and service providers.
The complete meeting agenda and council reports are posted to the California Courts Meeting Information Center. A link to a live webcast of the meeting will be on the California Courts website on the day of the meeting.