News Release

Judicial Council Approves Funding to Continue Modernizing Court Operations and Services

Technology projects include advancing the use of online and remote tools.
Sep 20, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO—The council at its Sept. 20 meeting distributed $12.5 million from this year’s state budget to continue modernizing trial court operations, improving online and remote services, and increasing access to justice for the public.

“We’ve demonstrated that the judicial branch can make great use of technology funding,” said Judge Kyle Brodie, who helped present the technology funding proposal as chair of the council’s Technology Committee. “Our projects have dramatically increased the level of service to the public.”

Ongoing state funding for court technology has expanded voice-to-text translation in clerks and self-help offices, electronic filing, hearing reminders, access to court records, and other technology services.

For example, the council heard about:

  • The Virtual Customer Service Center pilot on the judicial branch’s online self-help portal, which has processed 65,000 chatbot questions from 46,000 visitors about small claims, name changes, and family law since March 2021, and has also served 4,200 live chat users—the service will soon be available on local court websites and be expanded to handle eviction, traffic, and fee waiver questions.
  • The Placer Superior Court pilot of the branch’s Hearing Reminder Service, which sent out nearly 20,000 reminders so far—by this fall, 8 trial courts will be using the service, which provides an option for reminders in Spanish, with 4 more languages coming soon
  • The branch’s eCART software, which automates the process of compiling a clerk’s transcript and produces an electronic record that can be securely transmitted to the appellate court—used in 31 trial courts so far, the software helps simplify a normally complex and time-intensive process

“Collaboration between the council and the courts is delivering solutions to the branch, understanding that we are better together than separate,” said Heather Pettit, director of the council’s Information Technology office. “That is something we have modeled over the last several years.” Watch

Other items on the September 20 council meeting agenda included:

Funding to Backfill Loss of Fee Revenue: The council allocated $10.3 million from this year’s state budget to backfill the loss of fee revenue to trial courts due to the repeal of civil assessment fees authorized by Assembly Bill 177. Watch

Update on State Budget from Department of Finance: The council received a briefing from Somjita Mitra, chief economist with the California Department of Finance, on the state of California’s economy and the outlook for the state’s finances in the future. She noted the state’s low unemployment rate, quick job recovery, and expected decrease in inflation bode well for staving off a possible recession. But Mitra also reported that the rising average age of the state’s residents, declining birth rate, and disappearing middle class could hinder economic growth. In addition, a recent decline in tax collections could necessitate the need to dip into the state’s $33 billion rainy day fund going forward. Watch

Council’s Administrative Director Receives Chief Justice Award: Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye presented Administrative Director of the Judicial Council Martin Hoshino with the Award for Exemplary Service and Leadership, which honors an individual or organization for outstanding service to the judicial branch. Hoshino is only the seventh recipient of the award during Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s tenure.

The complete meeting agenda and council reports are posted to the California Courts Meeting Information Center. An archived webcast of the entire meeting broken out by topic will be added to the center as soon as it is available.