Briefing from the Judicial Branch
COMMITTEE ON JOINT JUDICIARY
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02:51 PM -- Briefing from the Judicial Branch
Jerry Marroney, State Court Administrator, explained the handouts that he distributed to the committee (Attachments A, B, and C) and introduced the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. Chief Justice Mullarkey discussed the function of the court. She explained that the district courts handle felonies, but also half of the filings in district courts have to do with family issues. She discussed the strong accountability measures of the court. Mr. Marroney discussed the role of the state judicial branch. He provided an overview of the staff and roles of the Judicial Branch. He explained that the Judicial Branch consists of the Judicial Department, the Public Defender, and the Alternate Defense Counsel. He discussed the information contained in the powerpoint overview (Attachment A). Mr. Marroney indicated that 750,000 court cases are filed each year. Currently, civil cases make up the majority of the filings. For criminal cases, he noted that the court sees 200,000 traffic cases, 75,000 misdemeanor cases, and 40,000 felony cases each year. He discussed the importance of treatment courts in trying to reduce recidivism.
(Attachment C is a DVD and can be viewed at Archives)
Mr. Marroney discussed the workload for the probation department. He explained that probation is the largest corrections agency and resides within the Judicial Branch. He stated that 63,000 people are placed on probation each year. He also noted the importance of restorative justice for probation. Mr. Marroney provided an overview of the resources used by probation as compared with the number of probation cases. He also discussed the intensive treatment programs conducted by probation which keeps offenders out of the prisons. He discussed a survey that they have been conducting to see what the public thinks of the court. From this survey, they found that people are interested in seeing increased hours for the courthouse, being able to complete their business in less time, and a more useful web site. Mr. Marroney explained that the Judicial Branch is 4 percent of the state budget.
Representative McCann asked about e-filing and whether that would bring in revenue. Chief Justice Mullarkey explained that the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) has asked them to study this possibility. Mr. Marroney noted that the JBC just approved a supplemental to undertake this and the estimate is that Judicial might bring in $14 million from bringing e-filing in house. Representative Gardner noted his concerns with this initiative. He believes that the e-filing system in this state has been cutting edge and he hopes that the system will continue to work after the transition. Representative Gardner discussed the recent increase in the filing fees. Mr. Marroney noted that they are in the middle for states in terms of fees, so much of the feedback has been that the fees are not as high as in other states. Justice Mullarkey noted that the changes in e-filing are three to four years away. Senator Newell asked about successes from the mediation services and the mental health courts.
Representative Miklosi asked about training for judges who handle family law cases. He indicated that individuals sometimes complain about the knowledge of the judges who handle family matters. Mr. Marroney discussed some difficulties concerning family law. Representative Miklosi asked about what kind of partnerships the Judicial Branch engages in without external nonprofit groups. Chief Justice Mullarkey discussed several areas where outreach is conducted. Senator Renfroe asked about a computer initiative with the Weld County District Attorney's Office that may save money. Mr. Marroney explained that the initiative is called e-citation. Representative Levy asked about the costs of probation and how they handle probationers who can't pay for probation. Representative Levy also asked about the costs of transcripts and how the court reporters get paid. Mr. Marroney discussed the changes that were made in costs for transcripts in previous years. He also explained that court reporters pay for all of their equipment and much of the transcript work cannot be done during the workday.