Seven Ways To Fix Slow Courts

Published: 17th August 2015
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During this relatively new court financial cutbacks, most civil courts no longer place enough priority on completing writs or abstracts of judgment for creditors. Some civil courts may take 6 months to process such requests.

My articles are my opinions and are not, legal advice. I am a judgment broker, and not a lawyer. When you want a strategy to use or legal advice, you should contact an attorney.

I read that it can now be more than a year to get a judgment renewal done by mailing it. Although I've heard that lines have not ever been as long at many California (and most other State) civil courts, I don't advise mailing anything to the average courthouse.

During the current climate of layoffs and reduced hours in most California civil courts; clerks have the constant worry about getting laid off, and just like many workers, now are constantly getting more work for identical pay.

Many courts are now letting paperwork stack up because they have fired many very qualified and experienced workers. They have been replaced with just a few new hires; most often at greatly reduced wages, and shorter hours, so those new workers won't get any benefits.

While the long-term fix could come with electronic filing, not all judgment-related documents are simple enough for electronic filing without a human checking things; at least probably not during the next decade. Certain paperwork requires issuance from the court, like a judgment renewal or a writ of execution; and both require a lot of court clerk "thinking time".

Why do fully paid-for civil court clerk desks remain empty while the lines at the clerk windows continue to grow? Here are seven ideas for solutions which may help solve slow court turn-around times:

1) Have the courts furnish a certain type of license or permit, to a few retired or ex-clerks, and offer those people a chance to start their own business. That new business could be to allow judgment creditors to hire them to go into court and complete whatever needs to be done at the empty workstations, doing the work they know how to do.

Creditors could pay the business a price premium, so the business is able to earn a profit; and then that business would then pay the court the regular charges. The court would then be freed from the backlog they're now going through; and folks that don't wish to wait, can decide to spend extra, to have things done fast.

2) Civil court document service by drive-up windows. A similar type of service is already happening in Texas. In Austin, the Travis County Clerk, has a drive-through window for several kinds of documents. While the Austin drive-through may not process all documents, they process registration renewals and vehicle title transfers.

Perhaps drive-up service is one of those ideas way too wonderful to ever be implemented by an agency of the government. But, However, folks can be married through a drive-up window; so they ought to be able to file certain court paperwork or have them issued by drive-through service. The technology to do this is popular and proven.

For a long time already, there are tube-based installations where one loads their paperwork onto a vacuum pipe canister and then boom; it nearly instantly appears in front of a clerk behind glass. Cash, credit cards, and legal papers could be put into it; credit card receipts (to sign), or change can be sent back, having court-stamped documents.

A drive-through court clerk window should have several advantages. Banks often have one clerk, that are able to handle two traffic lines at drive-through windows. Although one clerk can work, 2 clerks would work even better. Because of technology, it really doesn't matter what place the drive-up is, if there are official court file stamps, a network-connected computer hooked up to the firewall (or a VPN over wireless) and the drawer for change; the clerks will be able to perform the work.

Most folks would really prefer to stay inside their cars; than pay to park, and then wait in lines. While they are waiting in cars, folks are able to listen to music, eat, let their baby sleep, and do some other things they can't do as they wait in line at the clerk's window.

Whatever court which starts a drive-through clerk service would soon get noticed nationally for the court's clever way to help the current constipated court situation.

3) Pay court clerks at least partially on commission. Maybe a dollar and a half per paper correctly filed, and $2.00 per paper issued correctly. The court's quicker clerks with the most experience would earn more than the slower or newer clerks.

4) Expand the use of "Express" windows in civil courts courts. Some examples could be windows for up to 2 transactions, or Judicial Council forms only, cash or credit cards only, etc. I am amazed the amount that clerks write onto checks, and inspect identifications; because if any check "bounces", they are able to simply reject the already filed document.

5) Expand the use of "Self-Service" windows, desks, or boxes. With a networked system, people could type in a form on a screen, pay the fees, and endorse and conform their own paperwork. Of course, later a clerk might undo that transaction (perhaps offering no refunds) when there was a mistake.

6) Have courts add an option for fast processing option, for forms which usually take at least days or weeks to process. By paying an (perhaps $25) premium, one could have forms worked on while they waited. After their documents are ready, the clerk might display your name or case number on a display or read it on some loudspeaker; or provide you with a beeper, like certain restaurants use after they are ready to seat you.

7) An express incoming mail system with a code, where you can order (for perhaps $25) and place the code on your envelope. When you mail out the envelope to that court having the correct code, they will process it fast.

The more paperwork courts get done, the more money the courts receive. These kind of suggestions will likely require changes in the laws. To make such ideas succeed, requires people with some contacts and clout. Perhaps legal groups/organizations or the Bar Associates might become interested in this kind of thing?


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