Courts Using Data to Improve Services
A recent gathering of nearly 200 California court leaders and research staff focused on how data can help shed light on operational challenges and solutions, and ultimately improve court services for the public.
The May 26 event, hosted both in-person and virtually by the Judicial Council, was the next step in the judicial branch’s work to build a statewide court community around data management and analytics.
“Many courts are very active with data analytics but want an opportunity to collaborate with one another on shared issues,” said Leah Rose-Goodwin, manager of the council’s Office of Court Research. “The council’s role is to help foster the data community and provide support to any courts that may need assistance.”
Local Courts Show How They’re Using Data
Attendees heard directly from three superior courts using data to improve their operations and efficiency:
- Alameda County: The court collects data on multiple items related to jury service, including how many jurors are called each week, juror zip codes, and who reports and is able to serve. The court found differences in reporting rates among jurors who were summonsed for the first time, who voluntarily deferred service, and who previously failed to appear, and used that information to adjust its summonsing practices.
- Placer County: The court may not be one of the largest courts in the state, but it’s not short on data. For example, the court uses the latest web apps and tools to track, present, and act on data related to new case filing trends, use of e-filing and related processing times, remote appearances, and its self-help and online chatbox services.
- San Bernardino County: The county is the largest in the state by geography (20,000 square miles). The court is enhancing their data analytics tools to better gauge resource and staffing needs. By looking at its current number of judicial officers, filings, and which courthouses hear certain case types, the court is working to refine the system developed by the Judicial Council to maximize their existing resources countywide.
Said Nancy Eberhardt, court executive officer for the San Bernardino Superior Court: “Measuring goes toward our accountability to the public, the legitimacy of our work, and an ability to quantify our need.”
Innovations Spurred by Judicial Council Grant
Orange County Superior Court was among the first courts to build a cloud-based data warehouse, using funds from the Judicial Council’s Court Innovations Grant Program instituted in 2016.
Fifty other projects across 30 trial and appellate courts statewide received innovation grants to create new tools and programs that could be replicated statewide. The early success of the Orange court’s data project inspired a branchwide framework focused on data governance.
Building on that momentum, the council recently established a Data Analytics Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the council on judicial branch data and information strategy. The workgroup will analyze and share data to better inform judicial branch decision making and enhance public access to court data and information.